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International Entrepreneurs: Opportunities in the UAE


Sunny weather, towering skyscrapers and flashy sports cars aside, what reasons are there for an entrepreneur to relocate to the UAE? Indeed, a growing number businesses – from start-ups to massive corporations – are moving their headquarters to places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi; but what is it about the small Gulf state that makes it so popular with companies and entrepreneurs? Here’s a brief overview:

Tax-Free Living

Perhaps the biggest incentive for entrepreneurs considering relocating to the UAE (Dubai in particular) is the opportunity to live and work (mostly) tax-free. Not only is there no personal income tax, no VAT and no goods and services tax, there’s also no corporate income tax for most companies in the UAE.

On top of these unprecedented tax incentives, the UAE is also home to a growing number of ‘free zones’ – such as Dubai Internet City, Rak Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone and Khalifa Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi. Each of these ‘free zones’ are government-backed, tax-free business areas dedicated to a specific sector. Businesses that relocate to one of these free zones benefit from massive tax breaks and, in many cases, the use of state-of-the-art office and warehouse facilities.

Thriving Sectors

As more start-ups, SMEs and corporations relocate to the UAE, the country's economy continues to diversify. Specifically, there are growing opportunities in the following sectors:

Finance – The tax incentives available to those working in the finance sector make the UAE a particularly attractive prospect for entrepreneurs hoping to rapidly grow their businesses. Specifically, the Dubai International Financial Centre is the ideal headquarters for companies that specialize in financial services, including trade banking and import financing, insurance, capital markets and asset management.

Retail/Fashion – Dubai’s fashion industry continues to grow and looks set to become a major player internationally. In August 2013, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, signed a decree uniting public and private sector businesses in the shared goal of expanding the emirate’s fashion industry.

Construction – In any economy where new business is thriving, the construction industry receives a subsequent boost. With new public and private sector projects springing up constantly, the need for high-quality, innovative construction companies is on-going.

IT – The UAE is a particularly attractive prospect for Internet-based tech, eCommerce and IT companies that don’t rely on a local, bricks and mortar business to reach their audience. With the local free-zones catering to these types of digital companies, tech start-ups in Dubai are able to save more on taxes and put those savings back into their businesses.

So much of business success comes from spotting valuable opportunities and not letting them pass by. For entrepreneurs convinced that their idea the ‘next big thing’, the UAE may be the ideal habitat in which that idea can develop and grow.

Image by Ryan Lackey, used under Creative Comms license


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