Dubai is a place where you can spend as little as AED 1,500 or as much as AED 100,000 or more to register your company.Also, you may get confused while searching online for low cost business setup options, as there are so many different offers and sometimes with a huge disparity in services offered and costs.
So, anybody who wants to start a business in Dubai will struggle to find an answer to these questions: what is the real cost of setting up a business in Dubai and what is the most cost-effective option out there?
In this article, I will try to shed some light on the cost of registering a business and license in Dubai, and find out which one is the cheapest one. For clarification, I am going to cover only Dubai in this article and exclude other Emirates. I will cover these in my upcoming posts.
First, let us talk about business incubators. There are several business incubators in Dubai Free Zones where you can setup your business for nominal costs.
One of the incubators is In5 Innovation Hub launched by TECOM Group, where you can register your business, obtain your UAE residency visa and rent a space for very nominal fees. For instance, the license fee is AED 1,000 annually and co-working desk price starts from AED 1,000 per month. You can also rent an exclusive office at In5 premises for just AED 2,500 per month.
Residency visa is also issued at a reduced fee of AED 1,500 per visa and up to 4 visas can be applied under one start-up.In5 supports start-ups in three different sectors: Technology, Design and Media. Nevertheless, for setting up your start-up in In5 you need to pitch your idea in front of experts and be accepted. To qualify, your need to have an idea that would bring innovation, creativity and value to the marketplace.
Another interesting start-up hub in Dubai is Dtec (that stands for Dubai technology entrepreneur centre). Dtec is located in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) Free Zone. Dtec accepts applications for start-ups in the technology sector and offers substantially discounted business setup prices. Company registration and yearly license fee is AED 5,000 and you can rent a shared Flexi-desk starting from AED 7,500 per annum. There are other costs involved such as security deposit for the flexi-desk or office and company closure fee that you need to pay at the time of setting up your business. Also, Dtec requires a company to have at least AED 10,000 share capital.
DIFC FinTech Hive
If you have an innovative solution in FinTech and want to test your idea at a minimum cost, you can try your luck through DIFC FinTech Hive. DIFC FinTech Hive is a wing of Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), the region’s most prestigious Financial Free Zone. DIFC FinTech Hive can help accelerate your start-up through its dedicated accelerator programmes, minimized company setup costs, flexible co-working spaces and access to investors and other players in FinTech and financial services sectors.
The company registration application fee for a FinTech company is AED 375 (USD 100) and the license fee is AED 5625 (USD 1,500). There are additional fees for renting a co-working space, office, event space or meeting rooms in DIFC FinTech Hive.
If you do not need a company and prefer working solo, there are options available to obtain a Freelance permit. By the way, for any kind of services that you are offering for a fee (even privately), you need to have a business license or permit. Some of the Free Zones that offer Freelance permit and residency visas are TECOM Group (under its business units Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Park and Dubai Media City) and Dubai South Free Zone.
There are other Free Zones in different Emirates that offer Freelance permits, but remember in this article we are discussing about cost-effective business setup options in Dubai only. 😊TECOM Group issues Freelance permit in Dubai for AED 7,500 per year. This is just a cost of the permit and if you want to obtain a residency visa, then the cost of the establishment card and the visa starts from AED 4,700. Freelancer permit under TECOM Group allows you to provide professional or consulting services in Information Technology, Education and Media sectors.
Freelance permit in Dubai South costs as low as AED 7,000 per year. Establishment card and residency visa cost starts from ~ AED 4,600.
If you are neither looking for a business incubator where you need to meet certain criteria to qualify nor satisfied with Freelance options, you can setup a full-fledged company either onshore or in one of the Free Zones in Dubai.
Here are the list of some of the most cost-effective Free Zones in Dubai and the price range to setup a normal trading or service company with a co-working desk (also known as a Flexi-desk). Fees can increase depending on the business activity and office facility.
- Mainland/On-shore: starts from AED 28,300.
- Dubai South: starts from AED 29,960.
- Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC): starts from AED 52,655.
- Dubai Internet City (DIC): starts from AED 51,770 plus minimum AED 10,000 share capital has to be deposited.
So, Dubai is a place where setting up your business can cost you peanuts or can cost you a fortune. It all depends on your business idea and how you want to structure and run your business.