Can you start a business while still being employed in Dubai?
Yes, you can start a business in Dubai while being employed if you get a license from select free zones, like Meydan Free Zone. Thanks to changes in UAE law, many free zones do not require employed individuals to provide permission from a current employer.
When approaching a free zone, they will inform you of whether you require a no objection certificate from your current employer to obtain a license.
For easy and immediate business setup, contact the team at Meydan Free Zone for a personalized quote.
In this blog, we’ll discuss:
Can you start a business while still being employed in Dubai?
Yes, you can start a business while being employed in Dubai, providing you get your business license from select free zones like Meydan Free Zone that don’t require a no objection certificate. However, if you are considering setting up your business in a free zone that requires one, you will need to make sure you have your current employer’s permission.
Asking your current employer for a no objection letter in Dubai can raise certain difficulties. In some industries – and depending on the nature of the work you do – employers may refuse your request.
In some companies, for example, employers will be unhappy about providing a no objection certificate because of concerns about competition, trade secrets, or compliance and security. If your current employer fears that you may quit their business and take some of their customers with you, they may refuse to provide your no objection certificate.
If your current employer refuses to provide a no objection certificate, you may simply have to leave your job and start your business once you are no longer working for them. If so, you’ll need to check what this means for your visa status if you are a foreign national.
However, most employers are reasonable and will understand that you are following a personal dream when setting up a company – especially if it won’t be in competition with them (e.g., someone leaving a software company to start their dream coffee shop). Many employers will be supportive and happy to provide a no objection certificate.
UAE labour laws
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation overhauled existing labour laws in the UAE to align the region with international best practices. These include an extended probationary period of 14 days, a new law offering protection for employees against bullying and sexual harassment and 60 days maternity leave.
The UAE has also introduced new legislation around part-time and flexible working. Under the new rules, part-time employees are expressly recognised and entitled to vacation leave on a pro-rated basis. It also acknowledges that an employee can work remotely or start a business with the employer’s approval.
Under the new legislation, resigning employees are also entitled to a full end-of-service gratuity, providing they have completed at least one full year of service. Before this, employees were only entitled to the money after five years of service. You can read the full laws here, https://www.mohre.gov.ae/en/laws-and-regulations/laws.aspx.
Why Do Entrepreneurs Choose Meydan Free Zone?
Meydan Free Zone is a business hub in central Dubai, right by the Meydan golf course and racecourse. Besides major financial incentives to launch your business at our free zone (including a 0% tax rate and 100% foreign ownership), we also provide a variety of other forms of support, including:
- MoFA Approved:Our business licenses are approved by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE making your business ownership legitimate.
- Meydan Pay: Our easy-to-use banking solution which gives you a bank account and IBAN instantly to start sending and receiving payments.
- Easy Payment Plans: We have partnered with reputable banks to help spread the cost of starting your business. A number of banks have partnered with us, including ADCB, Commercial Bank of Dubai, FAB, and Emirates Islamic.
- Meydan Commerce: Our unique support service helps businesses start selling products online via websites like Amazon and Noon. Powered by our tailor-made solution, you can benefit from perks such as product listing optimization, onboarding, marketing, vendor management, store setup and Amazon prime listing and delivery.
Contact our business advisors for more information about the benefits of setting up and scaling your business in Meydan Free Zone.
How to get a Meydan Free Zone license?
Getting a Meydan Free Zone license is very straightforward. Once you have received your no objection certificate from your current employer, you simply need to complete the following steps on our website to begin your free zone application:
- Step 1: Submit your application, along with a completed Know Your Customer (KYC) form
- Step 2: Wait for security and government approvals – which typically takes just one or two days
- Step 3: Your license is issued with your banking IBAN
Frequently Asked Questions
Read our FAQs to learn more about starting a business while you are employed by someone else in Dubai, UAE.
Can I start a business if I am already employed?
Yes, you can start a business if you are already employed by someone else in the United Arab Emirates. If you decide to set up your business in select free zones like Meydan, you will not need to obtain an NOC.
For example, an unemployed woman on a husband’s visa can start a business without an NOC. She can remain on her husband’s visa while running her company too.
Can I do business on a work visa in Dubai?
Yes, you are allowed to do business while on a work visa in the UAE, provided you have a license from select free zones like Meydan Free Zone. If you have chosen to do business in a freezone that requires permission from your current employer, you will need to ensure you have an NOC.
Can your employer stop you from starting a business?
It depends. If you decide to start your business in select free zones such as Meydan Free Zone that do not require an NOC, you will not require permission from your current employer. They may refuse this request because of concerns about competition, trade secrets, or other security or compliance reasons.
That being said, they cannot stop you from starting a business if you decide to leave the company – although you will need to first check how this will affect your current visa situation.
Starting a business while still employed in Dubai is made easier in select free zones, like Meydan Free Zone. In other free zones, so long as you have a no objection certificate, starting a business is completely legal. If you are unsure about any of the steps involved in getting a no objection certificate for Dubai, or need support with your application, contact Meydan Free Zone today for advice on business setup in Dubai.
Our highly experienced business setup consultants have worked with many entrepreneurs like you who have started businesses while still employed by someone else. This means we can guide you through this process and help you start your business fast.