In 2020, the United Arab Emirates was ranked by the World Bank as #16 in ease of doing business, coming ahead of many of the newly favoured EU growth economies like Latvia and Estonia, and even outranking advanced top-ten economies like Canada and Germany.
More about the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven separate states: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The currency is the UAE Dirham, which is worth approximately 0.25 euros. According to the World Bank, the population in 2021 was 10 million and GDP in 2020 was $358.9 billion.
With the tremendous flow of revenue from its reserves of oil and gas, the UAE has transformed itself into a world-class economy, and is a model of modernization. The population has grown from around four million in 2005 to roughly ten million in 2020, with the great majority coming from resident workers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines.
At the same time as it remained true to its culture and traditions, it introduced full equality for women in business and government, job growth for citizens and residents, advanced healthcare and education for all, and enjoys a fair and just legal system.
How do the individual Emirates rank?
Of the total population, Dubai is home to nearly 36% and Abu Dhabi to 17%. The UAE has a unique population structure, since only approximately 12% of the total population are citizens of the country. The rest are residents who have visas granting them resident status for a specific number of years.
Dubai has the most advanced economy in the UAE, and it provides foreign investors with a wide variety of commercial prospects. It is thought of as the home of business in the UAE. Over the years, Dubai has grown to be a global centre for technology and business. It has developed vast areas of specialised collections of buildings clustered around a park.
For example, the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) is one of the best known areas in Dubai. It is a fully integrated technology park where people play, live and work. Its main participants are companies dealing in the IT sector, as well as trade and consulting in high-tech and engineering. There is also the Dubai Technology Entrepreneurs’ Campus (Dtec), which is the largest tech entrepreneur centre in the region, occupying 10,000 square metres of space, and providing startups with the perfect environment from which to start and scale.
Silicon Oasis provides investors with programs of training, mentorship and networking opportunities, the largest Intel® Internet of Things Ignition laboratory in the Middle East/North Africa region, as well as Dubai Smart City Accelerator.
Abu Dhabi is the political centre of the UAE and one of the main economic centres. Thanks to the revenue that flows from the exploitation of the country’s vast oil and gas reserves (estimated to be around ten percent of the world’s total reserves), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is now the fifth-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, with vast reserves of gold and foreign currency assets.
How can GBO help you when setting up a business in the UAE?
GBO can guide you step-by-step when you are looking to register a company in the Dubai. The total cost will depend a lot on which emirate you are selecting as your base. In some free zones, a company license can cost between 5000 and 8000 euros.
In free zones like the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) in Dubai, the regulations permit 100% foreign ownership. In other cases, you may need to have a local resident holding a majority stake in the company and acting as your sponsor for the visa.
We strongly advise getting professional help from consultants at GBO to take you right through the processes, which include
- Deciding on the sphere of business activities
- Selecting the legal structure
- Finding and reserving a trading name for your company
- Finalizing the documentation and applying for business licenses
- Renting shared, virtual or dedicated office space, warehousing or manufacturing facilities
- Opening your corporate bank account in UAE
GBO is here to help you with all of these steps, to get approvals, get your license and register your company.
What services can investors benefit from?
The UAE for years has been using their vast income from oil and gas to develop a well-regulated and stable business environment. The long-term investment has focused on these facilities :
Modern infrastructure : power and telecommunications
Transport : Freight forwarders and shipping companies get all of the facilities and infrastructure that they need to compete with European and Far Eastern ports.
Trade : The UAE trades with more than 180 countries.
Banking : The largest banks that offer services to investors are:
- Emirates National Bank of Dubai (ENBD.
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)
- Dubai Islamic Bank.
- Standard Chartered.
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)
Exhibition and conference facilities : Each emirate has a specialised and highly advanced exhibition facility. These include:
- Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), which is a great location for your events, providing total of 45,000 square metres of flexible space that can be subdivided in the South Complex with 28,000 square metres divided into nine halls, and the North Complex (home of Expo 2020 Dubai) with 17,000 square metres divided into five hall. Meeting rooms and suites are suitable for workshops and seminars.
- Dubai International Convention & Exhibition centre (DICEC) is one of largest event venues in theUAE and is located just 20 minutes from Dubai International Airport. DICEC has had over three million visitors every year since opening, offering more than 111,000 square metres of exhibition area.
Healthcare and hospitals : Healthcare is administered by separate regulatory bodies in each emirate, like the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Expat residents with insurance plans can even get the same level of treatment at the same cost as citizens, depending on their insurance plan. In both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, foreign companies are required to provide health insurance to their employees. The terms differ slightly. It is the duty of an employee to insure their dependents. Other emirates, like Ajman, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Umm Al-Quwain do not require employers to provide health insurance to their employees.
In Dubai, employers can opt for a private healthcare plan or the Essential Benefits Plan (EBP).
Education and schools : The UAE has attracted major universities from all over the world like New York University (NYU), American University in Dubai, Michigan State University, Rochester Institute of Technology and New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) which are fully-accredited branches of U.S. universities. Université Paris-Sorbonne has also opened its first campus abroad in Dubai. Dubai is also home to universities from Pakistan, India, and the U.K.
How do companies operate in the UAE?
Most foreign investors coming to the UAE are benefitting from the special facilities provided in the Free Zones established by several emirates. It is not necessary to invest in physical resources in the UAE. It is possible to rent office space in any one of the 40 free zones in Dubai or other Emirates.
Companies can be set up by foreign investors in a free zone tax haven. For such companies, there is no customs or sales levy, zero tax on profit and dividends paid to shareholders. This makes the UAE a highly sought-after location for new enterprises which can earn better returns on their capital.