How To Start an Ecom­merce Busi­ness In Dubai? One of the many won­der­ful fea­tures of the Inter­net is that it allows every­one to do busi­ness in almost any loca­tion, from almost any­where. An indi­vid­ual can launch a com­mer­cial enter­prise from the com­fort of their own home office if they choose – a brick-and-mor­tar build­ing isn’t strict­ly required. In fact, many busi­ness­es thrive with noth­ing more than a well-pro­mot­ed online pres­ence, serv­ing cus­tomers in all kinds of enter­pris­es with­out ever meet­ing them. Depend­ing on the nature of your oper­a­tion, a well-designed web­site is all you need to start doing busi­ness and serv­ing clients. Is set­ting up an e‑commerce site in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates (UAE) any dif­fer­ent? Does it afford entre­pre­neurs the same poten­tial for success? Both of these are excel­lent questions! We did a deep dive into how you go about set­ting up an online busi­ness in one Emi­rate, in par­tic­u­lar, Dubai. We researched the reg­u­la­tions, searched busi­ness sites that deal with these issues, and con­clud­ed that launch­ing an e‑commerce site in Dubai makes excel­lent busi­ness sense. Con­tin­ue read­ing and find out how you, too, can estab­lish a busi­ness online in Dubai and make it a com­mer­cial suc­cess story.

Details About Dubai: What You Need To Know

- Folks In Dubai Love The Internet

Did you know that Dubai (and the UAE over­all) has one of the high­est pen­e­tra­tion lev­els of the Inter­net any­where in the world? In oth­er words, peo­ple in Dubai use the Inter­net a lot! And that’s good news for any­one want­i­ng to launch an e‑commerce site. There is vir­tu­al­ly none of the usu­al resis­tance to online shop­ping, for exam­ple, that you may find in oth­er parts of the world. Nor is there lim­it­ed reach because the Inter­net is acces­si­ble almost every­where. Accord­ing to the Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC), more than 60 per­cent of online shop­pers in the region are based in Dubai, and that num­ber is con­stant­ly grow­ing. (For more infor­ma­tion about the Coun­cil and its role in the region, vis­it: Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil). That’s an appeal­ing fig­ure for res­i­dents or for­eign entre­pre­neurs look­ing to estab­lish their pres­ence in Dubai. How­ev­er, before jump­ing in with both enthu­si­as­tic feet, it’s essen­tial to know the mar­ket and your poten­tial role in it.

1- Know Which Business Model Is Best For Your Operation

In Dubai, there are dif­fer­ent busi­ness mod­els to choose from busi­ness-to-busi­ness (B2B), busi­ness-to-client (B2C), and client-to-busi­ness (C2B). The one you select should be deter­mined by sev­er­al fac­tors, includ­ing your cus­tomers’ require­ments, mar­ket trends, and your oper­a­tion’s unique val­ue propo­si­tion (UVP). Once this choice is made, you can get going on your e‑commerce web­site design and pre­pare to launch.

2- Decide On a Location

In Dubai, you need not have an actu­al place – a brick-and-mor­tar space at which you and your employ­ees work. You can run things from afar, so to speak. Also, you need to decide in advance if you want to oper­ate in the emi­rate’s free zone or non-free zone – in oth­er words, on or off the Mainland. These are the two types of legal areas in which you can apply for a busi­ness license. The ben­e­fits of oper­at­ing in the free zone (which means not on the main­land) are many: there is
  • Zero per­cent income tax.
  • Cus­toms duties are extreme­ly low.
  • All the com­pa­ny’s prof­its are kept by you, and you can retain total own­er­ship of the e‑commerce business.
Those com­pa­nies reg­is­tered in the free zone are not allowed to oper­ate out­side the bound­aries estab­lished by the license unless they apply for and receive a Main­land license. Any com­pa­ny in the free zone that wish­es to do busi­ness in the Main­land zone must be grant­ed per­mis­sion from the Depart­ment of Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment of Dubai (DED). For more infor­ma­tion on the guide­lines, and the depart­ment itself, vis­it the Depart­ment of Dubai Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment.

3- Register Your E‑Commerce Trade Name

When select­ing a name, you must con­sid­er and respect the cus­toms and tra­di­tions of Dubai (and the UAE in gen­er­al). Avoid cheeky or slangy names, and be sure there are no sim­i­lar names already reg­is­tered in Dubai. Stay away from names with any hint of con­tro­ver­sy or ties to a spe­cif­ic reli­gion. And if you reg­is­ter it in your own name, be sure you use your full name. Abid­ing by these guide­lines will make the reg­is­tra­tion go faster and more smooth­ly. Reg­is­ter the name with the DED. For any online busi­ness or ser­vice to suc­ceed, cer­tain fea­tures must be in place. Below are some key fea­tures we’ve iden­ti­fied for e‑commerce sites in Dubai and every­where! These are universal.

4- Most Importantly, Your Site Should Be Easy For Users To Navigate!

It also needs to be secure so cus­tomers who may share per­son­al details (like bank­ing details or con­tact infor­ma­tion) feel con­fi­dent that their pri­va­cy is pro­tect­ed. Choos­ing an expe­ri­enced web­site builder and design­er will achieve these outcomes.

5- Decide On a Payment Plan, Known As Payment Gateways

how to start an ecommerce business in dubai To have a pay­ment gate­way on your site, you must first estab­lish a mer­chant account with your finan­cial insti­tu­tion – a bank or oth­er ser­vice provider. In the UAE, the orga­ni­za­tion respon­si­ble for elec­tron­ic trans­ac­tions is called the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­to­ry Author­i­ty (TRA). Check out their guide­lines for pay­ment gate­ways, and be sure your web­site builder meets them. For exam­ple, cus­tomers need access to 24/7 sup­port on your site in the event of a pay­ment glitch. That’s one of the rec­om­men­da­tions of the TRA. In order to meet TRA guide­lines, you need at least one pay­ment gate­way – Stripe, Pay­Pal, etc. — on your site.

6- Strong Customer Support Is Key

If there is one fea­ture of an e‑commerce site in Dubai or any­where else that con­tributes to suc­cess over the long term, it is cus­tomer sup­port. Users must know that their con­cerns (pay­ment issues or tech prob­lems) will be han­dled prompt­ly and effi­cient­ly. Doing so builds a repeat cus­tomer base. In Dubai, you can han­dle this all-impor­tant fea­ture your­self in-house, or you can hire tal­ent from out­side your web­site builder to han­dle this for you.

How Do You Qualify For An E‑Commerce License In Dubai?

Like all places, Dubai has eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments you must meet in order to be grant­ed an e‑commerce license. For­eign nation­als are offered pro­fes­sion­al licens­es, while UAE and GCC res­i­dents are grant­ed e‑commerce licenses. The Cri­te­ria Are:
  • Appli­cants must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Must have valid UAE identification.
  • Your com­pa­ny name must be reg­is­tered with the DED.
  • You must pay the license fee with­in one day of fill­ing out the paperwork.
  • Once grant­ed the license, it is renewed each year, and the fee is due annu­al­ly as well.
Once you receive the license, it’s vital that you keep all rel­e­vant doc­u­ments with­in easy reach so they are handy at renew­al time. A com­plete list of all e‑commerce license cri­te­ria set out by the DED is on its website.

In Summary, Here Are The Benefits Of an E‑Commerce Business In Dubai

how to start an ecommerce business in dubai
  • You pay lit­tle or no income tax or cus­toms duties.
  • An e‑commerce busi­ness is flex­i­ble and gives you plen­ty of expan­sion opportunities.
  • Dubai has a very low VAT rate – just five per­cent. (Val­ue Added Tax).
  • Ware­house facil­i­ties are avail­able at rea­son­able costs if your busi­ness requires them.
  • There is plen­ty of local tal­ent avail­able for hire, whether it’s secu­ri­ty for your site or a builder to get it up and run­ning. Dubai is filled with expe­ri­enced, knowl­edge­able peo­ple who know tech­nol­o­gy and know the cul­ture – a win/win com­bo for any busi­ness per­son, par­tic­u­lar­ly those from out­side the UAE.

What Does an E‑Commerce License Cost?

That depends. Sev­er­al fac­tors impact price, includ­ing which type you want (Main­land or free zone) and how large your busi­ness is. But gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, licens­es run between (AED) 15,000 to 50,000.

In Conclusion

Dubai is a mod­ern, excit­ing and sophis­ti­cat­ed place with a pop­u­la­tion that is not only com­fort­able using the Inter­net but also embraces it. That means that there is no resis­tance to doing almost every­thing online, from shop­ping to bank­ing to invest­ing and so much more. As an e‑commerce busi­ness per­son, you won’t have to build a mar­ket, pro­vid­ing you do your research before launch­ing to deter­mine whether there is a gen­uine appetite for the goods and/or ser­vices you’re look­ing to provide. Speak­ing of research: remem­ber to do yours! If you can, talk to peo­ple who run e‑commerce sites in Dubai. Read about the demo­graph­ics and cus­toms of the folks you’re hop­ing to ser­vice. In oth­er words, do your homework! Once your e‑commerce site is up and run­ning in Dubai, it will be a hit if you pay atten­tion to the two most impor­tant fea­tures that users insist upon: secu­ri­ty and an easy pay­ment gate­way. That’s true for con­sumers not just in Dubai but all around the world.

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