How to start an IT company in DubaiBlog
It should come as a surprise to no one to learn that the global IT industry is a multi-billion-dollar business. The IT services market alone is estimated to reach USD 748bn in revenue by 2020.
It’s no wonder why the industry is so popular with entrepreneurs looking to stake their claim in such a vast market.
Here in the UAE, IT can be just as lucrative. Our USD 8bn IT market is only expected to grow in coming years. So much so that it is ranked as the most attractive IT market in the MEA region according to Fitch Solutions’ recent regional IT index.
And a burgeoning market is far from the only reason to start an IT company in Dubai, UAE. An attractive zero percent tax regime, a strategic global location, a welcoming and supportive business environment are among the many other benefits.
What’s more, with the right guidance, it can be easy to start an IT company in this part of the world.
Want to open an IT company?
If you want to open an IT company in the UAE, there are a few tasks that you’ll need to check off before you come to applying for your license.
The first is to choose your business activity. There are many IT-related business activities permitted in the UAE. A company formation specialist can help you choose the ones that best align with your intended business model. It’s important that you decide this upfront as it may have a bearing on the type of setup that’s best for your business.
The next step is to choose a company name. When making this decision, you’ll need to keep in mind that the UAE has a set of somewhat idiosyncratic naming conventions.
As a guide: Your company name should not include any offensive or blasphemous language or make reference to known organisations and corporations.
If you are going to include your personal name in your business name, it must be in full – no abbreviations or initials. You must also check that your chosen business name is available to be registered. A company formation expert can do this for you as part of the license application process.
With these important decisions out of the way, it’s time for another – do you wish to set up in a free zone or in the mainland?
There are advantages to each setup. If you establish your business in the mainland, you are free to trade directly with the local market, without using the services of a local agent. You can also bid for government contracts.
If you set up in a free zone, you can take advantage of 100% exemption from customs tax. UAE free zone business owners also have full freedom to repatriate all invested capital and profits. There are also no foreign exchange controls and currency restrictions.
Applying for your UAE IT license
If you have chosen a free zone setup, you should make your license application to the relevant managing authority. If you have opted for the mainland then you can apply to the Dubai Department of Economic Development or equivalent in your chosen emirate.
In both cases, the application process follows the same basic steps. Whether making your application yourself, or through a company formation agent, you are usually only required to provide a few details and some standard documentation, including:
- Completed application form
- Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
- Two colour passport size photos
Best free zone to start an IT company
Many overseas entrepreneurs choose to do business from UAE free zones due to the easy incorporation process, affordable licensing packages and tax advantages.
If you choose to go down this route, it is important to find a free zone that meets your needs and your budget.
Each free zone offers its own unique set of advantages. Fujairah Creative City, for example, allows you to establish your business from outside the UAE and offers a range of business services to help you get up and running. The free zone’s on-site concierge can assist with visa applications, document attestation, and bank account opening.
What is the cost of setting up an IT company in Dubai?
The exact costs of launching an IT company in Dubai will depend on both the nature and size of your business, as well as your company location.
If you are looking for a ballpark figure, Fujairah Creative City is a good example. An IT services license here, with eligibility for one visa, costs just AED 22,000. Add use of the on-site coworking facility and that figure rises to AED 24,775.
Setting up your IT company in Dubai
If you’ve got the right skills and are armed with the right knowledge, setting up an IT company in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complex.
That being said, 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 license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.
To help you to ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ) when establishing a new company in the UAE.
We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.
As well as handling your license application, BIZ can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visas applications that are required to trade in the UAE.
In short, our 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 get on with running your business.