While romance and tradition may be at their core, there’s no doubting that weddings are big business. Particularly here in the UAE which is rated as a top wedding destination for couples from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
On the whole, the Middle East’s breath-taking scenery and palatial hotels bring in so much business that it accounts for 5% of the global destination wedding market which is valued at AED 330bn.
Such a vast market presents numerous opportunities for the entrepreneurs within it – from wedding planners to photographers, videographers, musicians, DJs, outfitters and more.
If you think you have something to offer the vast wedding market, getting started is simple. Here’s everything you need to know.
The first step to starting any business in the UAE is to outline your business activities. This will have a bearing on the type of license you need and the most suitable type of setup for your company.
In the wedding industry there are many potential business activities to choose from including event management, wedding party organising, photography and so on. It is important that you list every activity that you wish you carry out when making your license application.
Next, you need to decide on a company name. This takes a little more thought in the UAE than in other parts of the world because the UAE has a strict, yet easy to follow, set of naming conventions. An expert in company formation can help you make sure you adhere to them.
In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e. Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.
The next and final step before making your license application is to decide whether you wish to establish your business in a free zone or on the mainland.
There are many advantages to both. Free zones such as Fujairah Creative City offer benefits such as a quick and easy incorporation process, ongoing business support and financial incentives such as tax exemptions and zero currency restrictions. Mainland setups, on the other hand, allow you to trade directly with the UAE market.
The setup that’s right for you will depend on the nature of your business. Again, a company formation expert can advise on the best approach.
Applying for your wedding planner license in Dubai, the UAE
With your name, activities and setup type decided upon, you can now apply for your wedding planner business license in Dubai and the UAE.
There is not a specific wedding coordinator license or wedding planner license in the UAE. Instead you will need to apply for a professional services license.
You can make your license application either directly to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or direct to one of the UAE’s many free zones.
Free zones are often the most straightforward and cost-effective way to start a company, and offer many attractive benefits including zero percent personal and corporate income tax and 100% exemption from customs tax. Also, unlike in many other countries, UAE free zone businesses also benefit from the freedom of being able to repatriate all invested capital and profits. There are also no foreign exchange controls or currency restrictions.
If you do not wish to start a wedding planning business but instead plan to provide photography or videography services for weddings, the license application process is much the same.
Again, there is no videographer license in Dubai or freelance photography license in Dubai per se. In this instance you would either need to apply for a professional services license from the DED or a free zone. Alternatively, you could apply for a freelance business license.
The cost of setting up as a wedding planner or wedding services provider such as a photographer will depend on factors including your business activities, company size and location. In most cases, however, start-up costs are usually low.
The approximate cost for setting up as a wedding organiser with an events management license in Fujairah Creative City as a single shareholder with eligibility for one visa, plus use of the co-working space would be AED 20,575.
Should you need more employees, Fujairah Creative City offers a range of office space. Its flexi-desk package – which affords entrepreneurs the use of business facilities such as desk space, mail services and internet and phone use – comes with an eligibility for up to six employee visas.
Freelance packages, suitable for photographers or videographers, also come with eligibility for up to six visas.
The major attraction of starting a company in the wedding industry is how straightforward it is. Setting up in a free zone carries minimal upfront costs and licenses are usually issued within three working days.
Setting up in a free zone such as Fujairah Creative City also allows you to make use of virtual or flexible office packages which include a prestigious addresses, great facilities, access to a professional assistant and much more.
The free zone is also home to a modern, fully equipped business centre that provides a round the clock service. These services include meeting room access, fast speed internet access through Wi-Fi and LAN, printing and copying services, café access, receptionist cover, telephone and fax services and a maintenance and cleaning service.
While the steps needed to start a business in the UAE are not overly complex, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your business application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.
To help you ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist when establishing a new company in the UAE.
As well as handling your license application, a company formation expert can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
Many also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visa applications that are required to trade in the UAE.
In short, company formation experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to concentrate on what you do best.