With its breathtaking skyline, Dubai is one of the most beautiful cities in the world which makes it an attractive destination for foreigners in terms of tourism, as well as investment. Dubai’s property market is on its way to sustainable growth which is a feature resourceful entrepreneurs know how to leverage. In view of this, here is a guide on how to start a real estate business in the alluring city of Dubai.
Step 1: Choose your company’s business model
Keep in mind that, as a foreigner entrepreneur, if you wish to be the sole owner of your business, you would need a free zone license. Otherwise, in the rest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), most businesses need to be 51 percent owned by a UAE national. As for business structures in Dubai, there is a couple of them to choose from.
The first business model would be sole proprietorship – in this case, there is no minimum requirement for business capital and there can only be one manager; the second type is one-person limited liability company – the owner’s, i.e. the shareholder’s liability is limited to the value of owned shares; the third type is civil company – this group of professionals can be of different nationalities but if there are no UAE citizens, then they would need a local service agent; the fourth type is limited liability company – a 51 percent ownership by UAE nationals is mandatory; the fifth type is partnership company – UAE nationals must be general partners, while foreigners can be limited partners and there are no restrictions on share of ownership.
Step 2: Register your company and obtain licenses
You would have to start with a name, and it would be wise if you could incorporate ‘real estate’ or ‘broker’ since that would give a clear notion of your company’s field of operation. You will need to register your company and reserve that trade name with the Department of Economic Development (DED).
Next, you will have to re-submit the initial documents and add new ones in order to get the final approval. To get the real estate license, you would also need to complete a mandatory course via the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). Different real estate activities require different licenses, so it’s best to check the RERA website. Since Dubai is a different ball game when it comes to the property market, for setting up a business in Dubai successfully, you might consider hiring an agency to help you with the registration process, visas and licenses, and all the bureaucracy. They can also offer advice on the business model, so as to reduce risks and potential costs.
Step 3: Set up a professional company office
This step is important since the physical presence of an office will give credibility to your business, having in mind you are a foreigner with no reputation in the UAE world and who is just getting started. This office should include a landline and not just a mobile phone number.
You can either rent or purchase office space in the free zone in Dubai. You have a choice between a space of 20-30 sq. meters to offices on multiple floors of 2,000 sq. meters each. For starters, if it matches your budget better and your needs, you can begin with a flexi-desk, and the main advantage is that you can use it on a part-time basis while you have a full-time physical address. This could be a convenient temporary solution until the business and your finances become more stable and the need for a full-time office and employees emerges. If you are not certain as to the choice of location, you can also consult one of the Dubai-based agencies.
If you have some experience in the real estate market, and you have the budget and the desire to set up a business in UAE, Dubai is definitely an excellent choice. Its ultramodern architecture is breathtaking, among which the most famous view is from the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, which towers over Dubai from 828m of height. This and many other architectural jewels are evidence of the steady development of construction, and with that, the real estate market in Dubai. This is the perfect opportunity to come aboard a fast-growing industry.