How to Start Your Own Commercial Brokerage Firm in the UAE

How to Start Your Own Commercial Brokerage Firm in the UAE

June 03, 2024

Commercial Brokerage

So you want to start your own commercial brokerage firm in the UAE? We get it - the opportunities here are huge with all the trade going on. But it's not as simple as just hanging up an 'Open for Business' sign. There's licencing and regulations to navigate, fees to pay, staff to hire - it can get overwhelming fast. But don't let that stop you. We're here to walk you through the key steps and considerations so you can turn your dream into a reality. With the right info and some strategic planning, you'll be networking, sealing deals and growing your firm in no time.

This guide will cover everything from choosing your legal business structure to marketing your services. So buckle up and let's get started - your new venture awaits!

Understanding Commercial Brokerage in the UAE

To start your commercial brokerage firm in the UAE, you'll first need to understand how the industry works. Commercial brokerage firms act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers of goods and services. They help facilitate transactions in industries like manufacturing, retail, technology, and more.

Types of Commercial Brokerage
The two main types are merchandise and business brokerage. Merchandise brokers work with tangible goods, connecting manufacturers and wholesalers with retailers. Business brokers focus on facilitating the sale of entire businesses. Within these categories, you can specialise in industries like food and beverage, healthcare, finance, and transportation.

Licencing and Regulations
In the UAE, commercial brokerage firms must obtain a licence from the Department of Economic Development. The specific requirements depend on which emirate you want to establish your business.  You'll also need to determine if you want to set up in a free zone or on the mainland. Free zones offer tax and duty incentives but have more restrictions.

Building Your Business
With the proper licencing in place, you can focus on building your brokerage firm. Start by defining your niche and target clients. Build a professional website to help establish your brand. You'll need to actively market your services through social media, email campaigns, networking, and advertising. Don't forget to provide excellent service to keep existing clients and gain referrals. With hard work and perseverance, you can build a successful commercial brokerage firm in the UAE.

Types of Commercial Brokerage in the UAE

In the UAE, commercial brokerage encompasses various sectors due to the country's diverse economy and growing business landscape. Here are some common types of commercial brokerage services:

Real Estate Brokerage: This includes leasing, selling, and buying commercial properties such as office spaces, retail outlets, industrial warehouses, and land parcels.

Retail Brokerage: Specialises in leasing, selling, and managing retail spaces such as shopping malls, standalone retail units, and shops within mixed-use developments.

Office Brokerage: Focuses on leasing and selling office spaces, including corporate headquarters, co-working spaces, and serviced offices.

Industrial Brokerage: Deals with leasing, selling, and managing industrial properties such as warehouses, factories, distribution centers, and logistics facilities.

Hospitality Brokerage: Specialises in buying, selling, and leasing hospitality properties such as hotels, resorts, serviced apartments, and leisure facilities.

Investment Brokerage: Facilitates investment transactions in commercial properties, providing advisory services to investors and connecting them with suitable opportunities.

Land Brokerage: Focuses on buying, selling, and leasing land parcels for various commercial purposes, including development projects, agriculture, and infrastructure.

Retail Franchise Brokerage: Assists in franchising retail businesses, helping franchisors find suitable franchisees, and guiding franchisees through the process of acquiring and operating a franchise.

Consultancy Services: Provides advisory services to commercial clients on market trends, investment strategies, property valuation, feasibility studies, and regulatory compliance.

Steps to Obtain Your Commercial Brokerage Licence

Apply for an initial approval
The first step is to apply for initial approval from the Commercial Licencing Department at the Ministry of Economy. You’ll need to provide details about your proposed brokerage firm, including its business activities, location, capital, and ownership structure. The ministry will evaluate your application and supporting documents to determine if the proposed firm complies with regulations.

Obtain pre-approval and required attestations
If granted initial approval, you must then obtain pre-approvals and attestations from various government entities. These attest that your office space, company name, and emergency safety standards meet official requirements.

Submit required documents
Next, gather documents like your pre-approvals, attestations, company registration certificates, and copies of partners’ passports and visa pages. You'll submit these, along with the initial approval, to the Commercial Licencing Department to obtain your brokerage licence.

Complete mandatory training
Finally, as a brokerage firm owner, you must complete a training course approved by the Commercial Licencing Department. This ensures you understand your legal obligations and responsibilities. Once the course is finished, you can officially begin operating your brokerage firm in the UAE!

Building Your Brokerage Business Plan

A solid business plan is crucial for any new brokerage. This will help you outline your goals and the steps to achieve them. It’s also essential for obtaining funding and licences.

Define Your Vision
What type of brokerage do you want to build? Will you focus on certain industries or provide a range of services? Outline your long-term vision and mission to guide your decisions. For example, you may aim to become a leading brokerage firm for logistics and shipping in the Middle East within 5 years.

Conduct Market Research
Analyse your target market and competitors. Look at trends in the industries you want to serve. See what services other brokerages provide and at what fee. This will help you determine realistic growth targets and set competitive rates. You may find opportunities in fragmented markets or to provide niche services.

Build Your Team
Hire experienced brokers and support staff to get your business off the ground. Look for candidates with strong networks and knowledge of your target sectors. Offer attractive commissions and benefits to recruit top talent.

Apply for Licencing
Obtain the necessary permits and licences to operate your brokerage legally in the UAE. This typically requires forming a local company, obtaining trade licences, and broker certifications. The requirements vary depending on the types of transactions you will facilitate, so check with relevant authorities.

Set Sales and Marketing Plans
Outline how you will promote your services and generate new clients and deals. This may include networking, email campaigns, social media, advertising, and participating in industry events. Build a professional website to establish your online presence. Set targets for new clients, deals facilitated, and revenues to aim for in your first year of operations and beyond.

With diligent planning and execution, you can build a successful brokerage business in the UAE. But remember, the key is starting with a solid plan to navigate this complex market.

Key Services Provided by Commercial Broker Firms

As a commercial brokerage firm, your core business is connecting buyers and sellers to facilitate transactions. Some of the major services you will provide include:

Market Research and Analysis
Conducting research into specific industries, commodities, and market trends allows you to gain valuable insight into opportunities and challenges. You can then advise your clients on optimal buying and selling strategies. Continuously analysing the market also helps you stay ahead of shifts that may affect your clients’ businesses.

Sourcing and Matching
A key role is identifying and vetting potential parties who may be interested in a transaction. You work to source suitable buyers or sellers, evaluate their needs and objectives, and determine good matches. Making the right connections and facilitating introductions is instrumental to brokering successful deals.

Valuation and Pricing
Providing an objective valuation and determining a fair price for the assets or goods in a transaction is important. You can evaluate the market value through analysis of similar recent transactions. Your pricing recommendation should satisfy both the buyer and seller.

Negotiation and Deal Structuring
Once potential parties have been matched, you facilitate negotiations to reach an agreement. This includes determining the type of deal—whether an asset purchase, stock purchase or merger—and structuring the optimal terms. Your goal is to broker a deal that benefits all parties involved.

Transaction Management
Managing the entire transaction process, from initial discussions through to final closing, is key. This includes drafting letters of intent and contracts, conducting due diligence, securing financing, and ensuring compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements. You oversee all steps to push the deal through to completion.

The Advantages of UAQ FTZ Licence for Commercial Brokerage Firms

Starting a commercial brokerage firm within the UAQ Free Trade Zone (FTZ) offers several advantages:

100% Foreign Ownership: Foreign investors can have full ownership of their commercial brokerage firm without the need for a local partner or sponsor. This provides autonomy and control over the business operations.

Tax Benefits: Companies established within UAQ FTZ are exempt from corporate and personal income taxes, providing a favourable tax environment for business operations. This can lead to increased profitability and cost savings for the brokerage firm.

Strategic Location: UAQ FTZ's location in the United Arab Emirates offers strategic access to global markets, especially the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. This facilitates international business transactions and networking opportunities for the brokerage firm.

Business Support Services: UAQ FTZ provides a range of business support services, including administrative assistance, licensing support.
Modern Infrastructure: The free zone offers state-of-the-art infrastructure, including office spaces, communication facilities, and transportation networks, enabling efficient business operations and client services.

Flexibility and Ease of Setup: Setting up a commercial brokerage firm in UAQ FTZ is relatively straightforward, with streamlined procedures for company registration, licensing, and visa processing. This simplicity and flexibility reduce bureaucratic hurdles and time-to-market for the business.

Reputation and Credibility: Operating within a reputable free trade zone enhances the credibility and reputation of the commercial brokerage firm, instilling confidence in clients and stakeholders.


What exactly is a commercial brokerage firm?
A commercial brokerage firm helps facilitate business deals between buyers and sellers. As a broker, you act as a middleman to connect clients and help them navigate transactions. Rather than dealing with residential real estate, a commercial brokerage focuses on office spaces, retail units, industrial warehouses and more.

What licences and permits will I need?
To start a commercial brokerage in the UAE, you'll need to obtain proper licencing from the Department of Economic Development. The specific licences required depend on the types of transactions you want to facilitate. For most brokerages, a commercial brokerage licence will suffice. For commercial brokerage firms operating in the United Arab Emirates, the UAQ FTZ Commercial licence offers a crucial framework and a platform for entities facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers across a range of industries. Although these companies can work in industries except for real estate, like services, stocks, bonds, and finance, they are not allowed to trade directly for them. 

What fees and commissions can I charge?

As a commercial broker, you can charge clients in several ways:

-Commission based on a percentage of the transaction value (typically 3-6%)
-Retainer fees for advisory services
-Hourly rates for specific projects
-Flat fees for overseeing certain types of deals from start to finish

The fees you charge will depend on the types of services you provide and what is standard for the industry. Be sure not to undercharge, but also remain competitive to win new clients. With experience, you can increase your fees over time as you build up your reputation and expertise.


So there you have it - the key steps to getting your own commercial brokerage up and running in the UAE. With the right business plan, licences, office space and staff, you'll be on your way to tapping into the many opportunities this industry offers. Just remember to thoroughly research the market, comply with regulations, and provide top-notch service to your clients. If you stay focused and determined, your new venture can thrive. The potential rewards make all the hard work worthwhile. Go for it!

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