The Ultimate Guide to Residing and Starting a Business in the UAE

Discover Why the UAE is the Top Choice for Entrepreneurs and Expats Alike
UAE happy businessman on the background of flag of United Arabian Emirates
Shutterstock | MillaF

In recent years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as a beacon for entrepreneurs and business magnates worldwide. Its strategic location, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and business-friendly environment make it an enticing destination for those seeking to expand their ventures. The allure of the UAE extends beyond its economic prospects; the lifestyle, cultural richness, and safety also play significant roles in attracting expatriates. Securing a UAE residence visa is often the first step for many aspiring entrepreneurs eyeing this Middle Eastern powerhouse.

Navigating the New Visa Rules in the UAE for 2024

In 2024, the UAE introduced several changes to its visa policies, making it more accessible for business owners and investors. The new UAE residence visa rules aim to streamline the process, offering longer-term options for various categories, including business owners, freelancers, and skilled professionals. Understanding these new regulations is crucial for anyone considering relocation.

Key Changes in Visa Rules

  • Golden Visa: The Golden Visa now offers 5 to 10-year residency for investors, entrepreneurs, and specialized talents. This visa is particularly attractive as it eliminates the need for a local sponsor.

  • Freelancer Visa: Aimed at the growing gig economy, this visa allows freelancers in various fields to live and work in the UAE.

  • Retirement Visa: This visa is designed for retirees over 55 years old, provided they meet certain financial criteria.

These visa options underscore the UAE's commitment to attracting and retaining top talent and investment, solidifying its status as a global business hub.

Understanding Business Tax and Registration Requirements

Starting a business in the UAE involves navigating through its unique tax and registration landscape. The country offers numerous free zones, each with specific benefits, such as tax exemptions and full ownership rights for foreign investors.

Taxation in the UAE

  • Corporate Tax: Corporate Tax: The UAE implemented a corporate tax regime in June 2023, with a standard rate of 9%.expand_more However, free zone entities can continue to enjoy tax benefits as long as they comply with specific regulations.

  • Value Added Tax (VAT): Introduced in 2018, the VAT rate in the UEA is currently 5%, applicable to most goods and services. "Businesses must register for VAT if their taxable supplies and imports exceed AED 375,000 annually." UAE Federal Tax Authority

  • Personal Income Tax: One significant advantage of living in the UAE is the absence of personal income tax, making it an attractive destination for high-net-worth individuals.

Business Registration

Registering a business in the UAE involves several steps, including choosing a business structure, selecting a trade name, obtaining necessary licenses, and fulfilling capital requirements. Understanding UAE business setup procedures can save you time and resources. It's essential to conduct thorough research or consult with a local expert to ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements.

Finding Business Setup Professionals

Engaging with experienced business setup professionals, tax advisors, and legal advisors is vital for navigating the complexities of how to start a business in Dubai and anywhere in the UAE. These experts can provide invaluable insights into UAE business setup and help ensure compliance with UAE tax regulations. Legal advisors can assist with contract law, labor laws, and other legal matters essential for a smooth business operation.

Choosing the Right Free Zone

The UAE offers more than 40 free zones, each tailored to specific industries and business needs. Free zones such as the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) provide excellent infrastructure and support for businesses.

Considerations When Choosing a Free Zone:

Industry Focus: Some free zones cater to specific industries, such as technology, finance, or healthcare.

  • Location: Proximity to clients, suppliers, and transport links can influence your choice.

  • Costs: Evaluate the setup and operational costs, including licensing fees and rental expenses.

Building a Network and Understanding the Culture

Networking is crucial in the UAE's business landscape. Attending industry events, joining business councils, and connecting with local and international professionals can open doors and create valuable opportunities.

Cultural awareness holds significant value. It is essential to comprehend and honor the customs and traditions of a specific region. The UAE is a diverse society, and it is vital to follow local norms, especially in professional environments.


Starting a business in the UAE in 2024 presents a wealth of opportunities bolstered by favorable visa policies and a dynamic economic environment. By staying informed about the latest regulations and leveraging the benefits of the UAE's business ecosystem, entrepreneurs can set the stage for success in this vibrant market. Whether you're drawn by the promise of tax advantages or the allure of a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the UAE offers a compelling destination for ambitious business leaders.

UAE happy businessman on the background of flag of United Arabian Emirates
Waldorf Astoria Residences Dubai Downtown to Mark First Standalone Residence Outside of the U.S.

Become an Insider!  Step into the world of luxury with RESIDENT Magazine. Click here to subscribe to our exclusive newsletter and gain unparalleled access to the latest in luxury lifestyle, high-end real estate, travel exclusives, and so much more.

Are you interested in advertising with Resident? Email us at to learn more.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Resident Magazine