Dubai is one of the most popular places for British expatriates to live and work. With a huge British population, decades of cultural links between the UAE and the UK, and a great quality of life, it’s no surprise that hundreds of thousands of UK citizens have moved to Dubai. But can Brits do business in Dubai? If you are a British citizen who would like to launch your own business or start a branch of your company in the United Arab Emirates. In that case, you will need an understanding of things like visas, residence permits, and other information on how to start a business in Dubai.
In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know about how Brits can do business in Dubai:
Advantages of starting a business in Dubai
Tens of thousands of British citizens have set up companies in Dubai, UAE. But what draws UK entrepreneurs to this Gulf nation?
Top benefits of starting a business in Dubai for British citizens
Low or no tax: Dubai is a business-friendly jurisdiction – it offers very low tax, or indeed 0% tax for companies setting up in free zones. Compared to setting up a business in the United Kingdom, you can retain far more of your profits. If you set up in a free zone such as Meydan Free Zone, you will pay 0% income tax, retain 100% ownership of your business and are free to withdraw your investment whenever you wish.
Location: Besides being a major market in and of itself, Dubai is also a fantastic location for companies to reach many markets in the rest of the world. Dubai is a gateway to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, not to mention the fact that there are almost two billion people living within just a couple of hours’ flight of the emirate.
Hub of diverse industries: Dubai has an extremely diversified economy, with countless businesses working in sectors as diverse as energy, fashion, architecture, tourism, retail and so much more. This diversity offers enormous opportunities to start a business and thrive.
Strong UK connections: The UAE and the United Kingdom have strong social, economic, and political ties. As global allies and major trading partners, starting your business here makes a lot of sense.
English Widely Spoken: While Arabic is of course the official language of the UAE, English is widely spoken, which makes things easier for expats from the United Kingdom wanting to do business.
Can A British Citizen Do Business In Dubai?
Yes, British citizens can do business in Dubai and have been doing so successfully for decades. Thousands of British citizens are employed by companies working in the UAE and many have set up their own companies, retired here, or invested in businesses in the emirate. The application for getting a residence visa and starting your company here is relatively straightforward and the government is very welcoming to expats from around for world starting companies in the emirate.
If you are interested in setting up a business in the UAE, here are all the steps to launching your company.
- 1. Select A Business Activity
The first thing British expats need to do to start a company in Dubai is to choose the suitable business activity for their business idea. There are thousands of license types you can apply for, so there is almost no limit to what you can do.
- 2. Choose A Trade Name And Location
British entrepreneurs in Dubai must select a trade name that complies with certain rules. For example, your business name must describe what your company does, while avoiding any language that could be considered offensive or blasphemous.
You’ll also need to select a business location. Many British expat entrepreneurs choose to launch from Meydan Free Zone because it offers a 0% tax rate and 100% foreign ownership. Our location in central Dubai, close to the central business district and airport, means you won’t have to travel far for client meetings.
- 3. Complete Your Application And Pay Fees, And Open A Business Bank Account
Next up, you’ll need to complete your application form and provide a range of documents and paperwork. While the UAE uses English extensively, some of the paperwork may be in Arabic, so working with our multilingual consultants at Meydan Free Zone is helpful.
Once your license has been approved, the final step is opening a business bank account, so you can make and receive customer payments.
Entry Requirements For A British Citizen In Dubai
The entry requirements for British citizens in Dubai are straightforward. You do not need a visa to travel to Dubai, but you must collect your 30-day visa on arrival in the emirate. If you plan to set up a business in Dubai, it usually is best to apply for a residence visa, an investor visa or, if you plan to work as a remote company in the country, a remote work visa.
Frequently asked questions
At Meydan Free Zone, we can advise you on selecting the right visa type for your situation and business idea. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked:
Can I live in Dubai with a British passport? Yes, British citizens are welcome to live in Dubai on a British passport. You will need to apply for a long-term residence visa if you are planning to set up your own company in the emirate.
Do UK Citizens pay tax in Dubai? The UK and the United Arab Emirates have a double taxation agreement which means that you will not be taxed twice on your income. If you have set up your company in Dubai and have a residence visa in the emirate, you may pay no income tax at all if you set up your business in a free zone. You will of course have to pay some other taxes such as VAT on purchases.
Can I retire in Dubai from the UK? Yes, Dubai has a number of schemes designed to allow UK citizens to retire in Dubai. Most common is the Golden Visa system. You are expected to purchase a property worth a certain value, then have leave to remain for at least five years.
How many British expats live in Dubai? Statistics suggest that are about what 240,000 British citizens living in Dubai, so you will feel very much at home living in the emirate as a British expat.
Why Meydan Free Zone?
Meydan Free Zone, located in central Dubai, is the perfect place to launch a business in Dubai. Our free zone is based close to the central business district, airport, roads and leisure facilities. It provides 24/7 access, high quality internet connections and all the technical support you need to run your company. Our experienced consultants can support you with all aspects of business setup in Dubai, which means you can focus on starting your marketing agency – and leave the admin to us.
Join thousands of other British expats who’ve launched successful companies in the UAE, and contact Meydan Free Zone today!