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Five key considerations for businesses to focus on when expanding in the UAE
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Five key considerations for businesses to focus on when expanding in the UAE

There are rules foreign investors must consider while evaluating the prospects of operating and investing in the UAE – ranging from the economy, regulatory framework, human resources, and tax issues. The UAE is one of the most liberal trade regimes in the Arab region, making it a preferred business hub.

The UAE focuses on economic diversification by promoting trade in sectors like logistics, banking, real estate, and tourism while providing opportunities in all of the industries. It also provides a safe and secure family environment and boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the world, making a safe home for expatriates of over 200 nationalities.

The UAE also features a well-established infrastructure and a tax-free haven. Despite a modest population, the U.A.E. is a leading commercial center serving the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, with over 85% expatriates, making it an encouraging location for SMEs.

If you are interested in branching out to the UAE, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Understand the country: The UAE is in the Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It has an open economy with a high per capita income. The UAE comprises a federation of seven emirates: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Umm Al-Quwain, and Ajman. Each emirate has departments that can help you with the initial documentation and in understanding the process but also has business regulations you must learn beforehand.

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2. Know the culture and business etiquette: UAE is an Islamic country. Be aware of cultural differences such as greetings and clothing.
3. Know the incentives for foreign investors: The UAE’s investment landscape is enabling for foreign direct investors (FDI) and the private sector. It would be beneficial if you understand the category of your business and the possible benefits it may entail for you.
4. Intellectual property rights and local sponsor: The UAE is a leader in the protection of intellectual property rights, with the enforcement of copyright, trademark, and patent laws that you must know. Another aspect you must explore is that in most sectors, foreign firms within the U.A.E. markets are required to have a local sponsor or agent. The element of the minority ownership position needs greater clarification and prior knowledge.
5. Free trade zones: Free trade zones are a lucrative and inexpensive option to set up operations. A free trade zone is a geographical area that has been established by the government to encourage investment. Currently, there are over 30 free trade zones in the UAE, most of them being in Dubai.

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