If you’ve ever considered starting a business in the UAE, you’ll be well aware of the advantages of doing so. In addition to the country’s world-renowned tax rate of 0% on both personal and corporate income, the UAE also benefits from a perfect location where East meets West – ideal for international travel and trade.
What many are interested to learn, however, is the distinct advantages offered by the individual emirates that make up the UAE. While Dubai has found its place on the world map as a hub for businesses in the region, other emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah are increasingly becoming a preferred choice for entrepreneurs looking to enter the thriving markets in the MENA region.
Ras Al Khaimah offers infrastructure and connectivity to Dubai coupled with lower licensing, labour and operating costs.
So, if you’re considering establishing your business in the UAE, here’s how to do so in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.
Why do business in Ras Al Khaimah?
The list of reasons to do business in Ras Al Khaimah is extensive.
The emirate is home to some of the UAE’s busiest seaports as well as its own international airport with direct flights to India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, as well as several European destinations.
It is also very well connected with the other emirates thanks to an extensive highway network. Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah are all around an hour away by road. The E11 highway also offers an easy link to Oman.
Ras Al Khaimah’s economy is both strong and diverse and its minimal bureaucracy and straightforward licensing procedures are perfect for businesses from a wide range of industries.
Business setup in Ras Al Khaimah
With expert support, setting up in Ras Al Khaimah is both quick and easy. Before completing your licence application, there are a few boxes to tick.
First you need to clearly outline your intended business activities. There are thousands to choose from spanning industries from commercial and industrial to educational, e-commerce and trading.
Once you have decided on the activities that best suit your business you should list these clearly on your licence application to avoid any complications further down the line.
At this stage, you should also choose your UAE company name. Remember, it must fit with the UAE’s naming conventions, most of which are common sense – no blasphemy or offensive words etc. You’ll need to choose your name upfront as you will need to check that it is available to be registered before filing your licence application.
Next, you need to decide on whether you wish to set up in the Ras Al Khaimah mainland or in a free zone.
Free zones are often the most cost-effective approach. Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), for example, offers affordable packages that include added benefits such as visa eligibility or the use of co-working facilities.
Your package could even include a fully furnished office, warehousing or land on which to develop your own premises.
With these key decisions made, it’s time to apply for your licence.
If you have decided to set up in the Ras Al Khaimah mainland, you can submit this application to the RAK Department of Economic Development.
If you have chosen to set up in a free zone, such as RAKEZ, then you must submit your application directly to the authority.
In many cases, the initial application can be completed online. As well as your completed application form, you will usually also be required to provide:
- Colour passport copies for all shareholders, directors and managers
- Copies of visas / entry stamps for all shareholders, directors and managers
- A No Objection Certificate (if required)
- A business plan
With your trade licence application taken care of, you can now tick off the final two important steps in the process.
The first is to apply for your visa and those of your employees. If you have opted for a free zone package, your visa application process will begin as soon as your licence has been issued. If you are applying for your own visa, should do this once you receive your trade licence.
The UAE visa process involves an application, followed by a medical test and biometric capturing. As this is such an important step in the process, it is a good idea to work with an expert to ensure your application is successful and not unnecessarily delayed.
Finally, you can now apply for a corporate bank account. Getting access to banking services in the UAE may seem challenging as each bank has its own eligibility and account opening criteria. At this stage, you should seek out the services of an expert in helping overseas investors open bank accounts in the UAE to ensure a smooth account opening process.
Business setup in Dubai
The process of business setup in Dubai follows that of Ras Al Khaimah. The only notable difference comes when setting up in the mainland.
As you might expect, when setting up in Dubai, you should submit your application to the Dubai Department of Economic Development.
Dubai is also home to a range of free zones that offer benefits similar to those that can be found within Ras Al Khaimah.
Business setup in Dubai cost and business setup in Ras Al Khaimah cost
The cost of setting up a business anywhere in the UAE can vary greatly depending on whether you set up in the mainland or a free zone, whether you take on premises, and the number of visas you require.
The best way to get an idea of cost before starting your application is to approach a free zone to discuss licence packages.
Once you outline your exact requirements, you will receive a quote for the total cost of setup. While it is not easy to estimate startup costs without knowing specific requirements, you can be sure that there is a package available for all budgets.
The cost of labour and premises are often lower in Ras Al Khaimah compared to neighbouring emirates.
Ras Al Khaimah, through its free zone, also offers attractive packages to encourage UAE-based entrepreneurs to look further afield.
That said, low cost business setup in Dubai can be found, but if your driving motivation is price, it’s likely that you’ll find many attractive deals in Ras Al Khaimah.
Ready to start your RAK business?
Need help getting to grips with UAE company formation? Get in touch with RAKEZ.
We always place our clients at the heart of everything that we do, providing them with cost-effective setup packages, modern facilities and first-class services to help them reach their full potential. Blessed with a strategic location, we connect investors to growing markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe as well as South and Central Asia.
When you work with us, you simply outline your requirements and we’ll do the rest – taking care of the entire application process on your behalf.