As anyone who has gone through the process will tell you, setting up a legal, registered business in the UAE is not an intuitive exercise. There are various significant hurdles that can be overwhelming to new entrants to the market.
If you operating outside of a Free Zone (we will write a post on Free Zones in the future), then identifying a suitable Emirati national as a majority shareholder ranks as the single most important issue you must address. As in any business in any part of the world, partnering with people who provide complimentary skills, relevant professional experience and compatible personalities is critical. However, in the UAE this is hyper-critical as your Emirati partner will have majority voting rights to your commercial entity upon which your residency visa will be linked. Said differently, find the right partner and avoid future headaches.
A close second in importance and complexity is the logistical challenge of legally registering your entity and receiving a Trade License. This licensing is a mandatory prerequisite for your business to operate in a commercial capacity within the country and is also the source of your residency sponsorship. There are a number of bureaucratic gates you will need to cross that will vary slightly based upon your commercial activity. Be prepared to spend a lot of time filling out paperwork and waiting in lines. If you have high blood pressure, bring your meds. If you have anger management issues, start meditating now.
Once you have navigated the above, things start to get marginally better. You can now apply for residency for you and any accompanying family members, and you can/must obtain health insurance. This is good news, right? Yes, except for the fact that you will now be spending a lot of time filling in new paperwork and standing in different lines. All in, these combined processes can take a minimum of a several weeks to several months.
While this can sound unpleasant, and just writing about it is making me anxious, there is an upside; GlassQUBE will manage this entire process for you as a turn-key service for our business center, incubator and qualifying accelerator Members (coworking Members will not be eligible for legal reasons that we will discuss in future entries). This includes a Concierge Partner Origination service where GlassQUBE will match compatible Emiratis and Expats seeking to create a business with a like minded partner.
So as an Expat entrepreneur seeking to start a business in the UAE, you simply become a Member of GlassQUBE and gain access our 100,000sf custom built business center + incubator + accelerator and coworking facility, and we will do the rest for you. Literally a plug + play start-up option.
This is just one of the many ways that we will differentiate ourselves from the crowded market. As a best-in-class business ecosystem, we will help your business grow through various in-house incubator / business development programs, access to a robust network of local and regional mentors and partnerships, and qualified Members can apply for our Accelerator program for funding of up to AED40,000.
Abu Dhabi entrepreneurs and SMEs, we can't wait to get started and help your business grow and succeed. Let us know if you have any ideas on how we can innovate together.