How to Start an Online Business in UAE: A Step-by-Step Guide
Online business ideas in the UAE
Online services are part of the digital revolution phenomenon that defines the way we live today. The medium may be virtual, but the opportunities are very real and almost limitless.
Conducting your virtual business in the UAE brings considerable benefits, and this up-to-date guide walks you through them. It covers the practicalities of doing business in the region and offers some ideas for the areas you could work in, covering the following topics:
- 15 online business ideas to start in the UAE
- Steps to starting your online business in the UAE
- Benefits of starting an online business in the UAE
15 online business ideas to start in the UAE
If you’re still looking for online business ideas in UAE, a good starting point can be found in your CV. What have you done in the past, and what are your main interests? The fact is that almost all skills can be translated into an online service.
These 15 examples of online business opportunities in the UAE might provide the inspiration you’re searching for.
- Archiving, bookkeeping and data entry. Not many people enjoy these tasks, but many businesses need them.
- Consultancy. The market for giving professional advice in the UAE is vast. Whatever your expertise, you could become the go-to online consultant. Green consultancy, in particular, is an increasingly lucrative area.
- Digital marketing. All businesses need professional marketing. If this is your area of expertise, the sky’s the limit in the UAE.
- Fitness coaching. Health and fitness are big business in the UAE, and there are great opportunities for online fitness instructors.
- Food delivery. An online food delivery service can work in two ways – you can bring food providers together on your website or take bookings and collect and deliver the food yourself, taking commission as you go.
- IT repair and maintenance. Services such as computer maintenance and repair are in constant demand, and that demand can only grow. You could combine your callout service with a tech blog, offering tips while promoting your company’s brand and services.
- Recruitment. Recruitment agencies are possibly even busier than IT services. There are thousands of UAE businesses seeking new hires across all sectors, and the demand for top talent is certainly not going to disappear anytime soon.
- Recycling. Despite many things moving online, there is still a mountain of business, household and construction site waste. A recycling guru can make a lot of money in the UAE.
- Social media marketing. Marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, but social media is probably the cutting edge right now. Luckily for you, not many people know how to harness the power of social media marketing – and that’s where your skills come in.
- Tourism. Millions of people visit the UAE every year, and tourism is set to grow and grow. Your online platform could provide information on local attractions and events, vehicle and equipment hire and, of course, ticket sales, earning a commission each time.
- Translation. The UAE has become a magnet for business people from across the globe. An estimated 80% of UAE residents come from overseas, so there is a huge demand for translation skills. English and Arabic are the obvious pairing, but if your skills lie with other languages, you have the chance to corner a niche translation market.
- Tutoring. Whatever your main skill is, you can teach it. There is a huge audience out there for music lessons, arts and crafts, academic work, writing skills, new tech – you name it, you can tutor it.
- Video editing. Video is the present and future of online interaction and marketing. Many people want their videos to look professional, often to promote their own business services. Your video creation and editing skills are just what they’re looking for.
- Virtual assistant services. VA's are rapidly outstripping PAs as companies continue to outsource remotely. All those jobs that used to be labelled ‘Admin Assistant’ can now be done virtually.
- Web design. This is another area that covers pretty much all businesses and professional services. A good website is a company’s window to the world, and if you’re that kind of window dresser, there are rich pickings to be had.
Steps to starting your online business in the UAE
To start an online business in the UAE, you need to decide on the sectors you wish to work in, to ensure your licence matches your requirements. Once you’ve decided this, there are five basic steps to follow in the application process:
Step 1: Select a company name along with two alternatives. This is in case there are issues with your first choice. At this stage you should also clearly state your intended business activity and required licence type.
Step 2: Submit the required documents to the UAQ Free Trade Zone Authority. This will include a completed application form and a scanned, clear colour copy of your passport.
Step 3: Sign and send the original business incorporation documents to the FTZA.
Step 4: Once the documentation has been approved, submit the full payment.
Step 5: Get ready to launch your UAE online business – you won’t have to wait for too long, as applications can generally be approved and processed in under 48 hours.
Benefits of starting an online business in the UAE
Business owners in the UAE are among the most fortunate in the world. Zero-tax rates are just the beginning, as you will also benefit from a lack of bureaucracy and a satisfyingly no-nonsense approach to business. There are no strings attached after setting up your business here, and you will enjoy 100% ownership of your company.
Here are a few other at-a-glance benefits.
- You will not need capital proof, a bank letter or an audit report when you apply for your licence.
- Shareholders do not have to be physically present during business setup or at any point of the licence application process.
- You can collect your establishment card free of charge.
- It’s possible to use and extend your existing visa, with no requirement for a specific UAQ visa.
- All visa holders, investors and employees alike can sponsor their families.
- There is no requirement for an NOC when setting up a company in the UAQ Free Trade Zone.
- There are no restrictions on foreign employees, so you can hire whoever you like.
If you’re looking at the UAE, check out UAQFTZ
Despite its small size, Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone matches the best of the rest in terms of high-tech and modern infrastructure. When you establish your company in UAQFTZ, you enjoy a winning combination of zero taxes, low living costs and excellent facilities.
The FTZ is close to Dubai International Airport and has its own seaport. Register your business here, and you will also benefit from 100% company ownership, repatriation of all capital and profits, and no foreign exchange controls or currency restrictions.
It’s true to say that an online business can be established anywhere. But when you look at the benefits of UAQFTZ, where else in the world would you and your business rather be?