Start a software company in the UAE

Start a software company in the UAE

July 17, 2022

Start a software company in the UAE

The number of new software companies in the UAE has risen dramatically over the last decade. Software has become the engine room of pretty much any industry or sector you care to mention.

Perhaps you’re considering setting up as a software developer with a portfolio of apps. Or maybe you’re pitching your new technology company as a solution provider for big business. Whatever your specialism, there’s never been a better time to start a software company in the UAE.

This up-to-date guide shows you how to establish your company and presents some short case studies as food for thought, covering these areas: 

  • Why start a software company in the UAE?
  • Steps to start a software company in the UAE
  • Successful software companies in the UAE
  • Why choose UAQFTZ?


Why start a software company in the UAE?

The market for software companies in the UAE is huge, with businesses benefitting from the region’s diverse economy and its active investment in all facets of business. The region also offers expertise when you’re looking for tech staff, and there are many investors who could back great ideas such as yours.

The UAE welcomes entrepreneurs from across the globe, bringing countless potential software customers to your doorstep. The UAE free trade zones are the perfect launchpads for businesses, offering low setup and maintenance costs and fantastic digital infrastructure. The relatively low costs give new businesses a breathing space, allowing you to spend more time and money on marketing and selling your software.

This is a crucial detail for a new business facing its initial financial hurdles. Low costs mean that you reduce your risk of being overstretched at the outset, while your company establishes itself and invests in areas such as marketing, websites, hiring, and special introductory offers to make your software offering leap out from the competition.

Steps to start a software company in the UAE

Setting up a company in Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone is a very straightforward process. It takes as little as one day to incorporate a company in UAQ FTZ, and the application process involves minimal red tape.

Step 1: Select your company name for approval and state your intended activity and required licence type.

Step 2: Submit all required documents to the UAQ Free Trade Zone Authority. This will include your application form and a colour copy of your passport.

Step 3: Incorporation documents should be signed and submitted to the FTZA. These should be originals, not copies.

Step 4: Submit your payment as soon as the documentation has been approved.

Step 5: Receive your e-commerce licence and get ready for the launch.

Documents needed to get your UAE e-commerce licence

The following items will be required when applying for your e-commerce licence: 

  • Three proposed names for the business you wish to establish, listed in order of preference. The names will need to conform to UAE regulations and must not have been used by any other company or trader.
  • A clear colour copy of your passport (along with copies for any other shareholder).
  • Proof of residence – this should be a recent utility bill featuring your name and address, or your last UAE entry stamp or visa.


Successful software companies in the UAE

There are many software and app success stories in the UAE. The following examples illustrate some of the subtly different approaches entrepreneurs have made to crack the market. 

  • Careem is one of the most celebrated software companies in the region. It has expanded the ‘super app’ notion to cover diverse services, including ridesharing and food and pharmaceuticals delivery. It currently serves more than 100 cities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. In 2019, the company was purchased by Uber, becoming the first unicorn startup company in the Middle East outside of Israel.
  • The Entertainer creates loyalty and rewards schemes for companies in all sectors. At one end of the scale, it creates apps branded in whatever corporate style a company desires, and at the other it sells off-the-shelf app solutions pre-loaded with rewards for a company’s customers or staff. The Entertainer also offers an embedded option that integrates a loyalty and rewards solution into a firm’s existing app.

  • Xicom specialises in mobile app, software and ecommerce development, along with IT consulting. The company now works internationally, its many success stories including Fitfix, an app for personal trainers; Notch, which delivers special offers and vouchers from countless companies worldwide; and WeBild, a worksite communication tool for builders, contractors, interior designers and everyone else in the construction and renovation business. Xicom’s key has always been its cutting-edge tech expertise – IoT, Big Data, Blockchain, AI, Cloud, the works.

  • Azkatech has built a reputation as an indispensable software solutions company that can be embedded in any organisation. It found its niche by ignoring what it describes as ‘short-term hit and run projects’, aiming instead at bespoke software development created collaboratively as part of a long-term relationship with the companies it partners. Azkatech backs up its promise of excellence with an all-important 24-hour availability to provide technical support.

  • Souq vividly illustrates how attracting investment can launch a software company into the stratosphere. It began operations in Dubai in 2005, and in October 2015 its e-commerce platform was valued at around $1 billion, attracting 10 million visitors monthly. Amazon tracked this bright star on its path through the e-commerce firmament and bought the company in 2017. Souq was officially closed down in September 2021, subsumed by the global giant. But what a journey!


Why start your company with UAQFTZ

UAQFTZ is a UAE free trade zone, and despite its small size it offers unbeatable high-tech and modern infrastructure. Umm al Quwain is perfectly placed, being close to Dubai International Airport and with its own seaport.

When you establish your company here, you benefit from zero taxes, low living costs and excellent facilities. As a software company owner, you will also benefit from 100% company ownership, repatriation of all capital and profits, and no foreign exchange controls or currency restrictions.

Business setup in the UAE is simple, but setting up a company in UAQ Free Trade Zone takes simplicity to the next level. You don’t need capital proof, a bank letter, an audit report or a no objection certificate (NOC), and shareholders don’t have to be physically present when creating the company and applying for a licence.

Furthermore, the establishment card is free of charge, and you can keep your existing visa without having to apply for a specific Umm Al Quwain visa. Shareholders and employees alike can also sponsor their families.

The whole process of company incorporation in UAQ Free Trade Zone can be conducted remotely, and you will benefit from the region’s astonishingly low-cost approach to business. So, if you’re thinking of starting a software company in the UAE, your first move should be to contact UAQFTZ for a personalised quote. There’s an eager software and app market waiting for your services.

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