Doing Business In UAE


Despite the impact of the global nancial crisis resulting in an inevitable contraction in 2009, the UAE economy remains robust, shielded by signicant overseas nancial assets garnered during the era of high oil revenues.

Substantial public expenditure, made possible by those assets, allied with strong fundamentals and sound scal policies, has served to minimize the impact of the crisis and receding petrodollar income on the UAE's economy, and is expected to speed up its recovery in 2010.

In particular, the government has pledged to maintain its investment budgets at high levels, especially for core long-term infrastructure projects, in order to rekindle growth.


1. Robust open and competing economy

The UAE has a vibrant free economy, a signicant proportion of its revenues arising from exports of oil and gas. Successful efforts have been made to diversify away from dependence on hydrocarbons and a solid industrial base has been created, together with a very strong services sector. The establishment of free zones has been an important feature of this diversication policy and reform of property laws gave a major boost to real estate and tourism sectors.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked UAE as 25th in the world for competitiveness.

2. Security and stability

Since its establishment in 1971, the UAE has enjoyed an enviable degree of political stability, unequalled in the region. This has enabled the implementation of consistent sound economic policies and the reinforcing of the country’s social structure to produce one of the most tolerant, prosperous, secure and safest societies in the world. Dubai and Abu Dubai have been ranked the top two cities in the Middle East region for quality of life, according to the latest edition of a global survey. Long-time investors include a wide range of multinational companies headquartered across the globe.

3. Tax-efficient business environment

Special economic zones and free zones offer 100 per cent ownership, repatriation of prot and capital as well as exemptions from taxes. Outside of these areas, signicant incentives are being offered to investors and corporate governance provisions ensuring transparency and accountability are being enforced. Corporate taxes are reserved only for branches of foreign banks and oil-producing companies. A negligible 5 per cent tariff is imposed on goods imported from non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, although tobacco and alcohol products are subject to 50 per cent customs duties.

4. Proximity to growth regions

The UAE’s strategic location between Asia, Europe and Africa is a major advantage to investors, particularly the country’s proximity to some of the world’s fastest growing economies in Asia.

5. Intellectual property protection

Intellectual property, including patents and trademarks, is legally protected in the UAE and considerable efforts are being made to implement these laws. The country is also a member of international bodies, treaties and conventions that safeguard intellectual property.

6. Solid infrastructure

Infrastructure in the UAE is second to none. Telecommunications, including mobile and xed telephony as well as Internet access is on par, if not better, than the world’s largest international business hubs. The road network is constantly upgraded and ports and airports are of world-class standards. In addition, the UAE is creating one of the world’s biggest and most efcient cargo handling centre’s.

7. Multi-national human resources

Investors benet from an abundant supply of human resource skills, courtesy of professionals migrating to the emirate from nearly every country in the globe, as well as the increasing number of UAE nationals that are joining the private sector.

8. Efficient government services

E-government websites, free zone authorities as well as chambers of commerce and industry provide new entrants with helpful information and guidance.


All businesses, whether industrial, professional, trading or services, must be licensed to operate in the UAE. Licensing procedures vary from emirate to emirate and the relevant details are available from the individual Chambers of Commerce.

The Commercial Companies Law and the Trade Agencies Law constitute the primary federal legislative framework controlling commercial activities in the UAE.

These instruments can be downloaded from the Ministry of Economy web site at:

* Source: Ministry of Economy UAE

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