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How To Start An Online Business In Dubai (2023 Guide)

From choosing a business name, to applying for your visa, this guide takes you through everything you need to know about starting an online business in Dubai.

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There has never been a better time to start an online business in Dubai than now.

Experts anticipate retail e-commerce sales to reach a new high by 2023, growing from $4.28 trillion in 2020 to $5.4 trillion. This massive growth is fueled by the always improving availability of electronic devices, new generations of mobile network technology, and more accessible online payment methods, just to name a few factors.

When choosing the best place to start an online business, Dubai should be high on your list. Not only does the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have the most advanced e-commerce market in the whole MENA region, but businesses that decide to incorporate in Dubai can look forward to many benefits, such as:

  • Minimal bureaucracy
  • 0% tax rate
  • 100% business ownership
  • Low operating expenses
  • No import/export duties

Best of all, starting an online business in Dubai is much easier than you might think, and we explain everything you need to know in this article.

Starting An Online Business In Dubai In A Few Simple Steps

The process of starting an online business in Dubai is deliberately straightforward to attract as much business activity as possible. Essentially, it involves filing an application for an e-commerce license, which then allows your online business to operate and sell products or services specified in the license.

Before you go ahead and file your online business application, there are some decisions that you need to make.

1- Choose Your Jurisdiction

The UAE consists of two main economic zones, or jurisdictions:

  • Mainland: Businesses incorporated in the UAE mainland are free to operate anywhere in the UAE market, meaning they can do business both inside and outside the UAE. They can also take on government contracts.
  • Free Zone: On the other hand, businesses incorporated in the UAE free zone are now allowed to conduct their operation in non-free zone without the support of a local agent. However, such businesses get to enjoy a special tax, customs, and imports regime.
2- Pick A Name For Your Company

If you haven’t done so already, now is the right time to pick a name for your online business. While this may seem like an easy decision, you need to keep in mind that the UAE has strict naming conventions, and you definitely want to avoid names that include:

  • Offensive language
  • References to Allah
  • Sectarian or political groups
  • Initials and abbreviations
  • Politically charged terms

If you’re having trouble picking a suitable name for your online business, then you may want to consider hiring a consulting firm with a deep understanding of the UAE, its culture, and customs.

3- Prepare Your Business License Application

You can now submit your business license application. The application process will take far less time if you have all basic documentation in order, including:

  • Properly filled out application form
  • Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
  • Two-color passport photos

Again, any inaccuracies in the application form can lead to unnecessary delays and complications, so we highly recommend you double-check everything before you submit your business license application. If everything goes right, your application should be approved in a week or so.

You can, of course, let a company formation expert take care of this step for you, but you need to be ready to pay a rather steep fee for the service.

4- Apply For Your Visa

Although your online business may not need physical premises like a brick-and-mortar store, you are required to have a legal address. In order to move to a Dubai-based office, you and your employees will need a valid visa.

All entrepreneurs who have set up a business of their own at some point in the past can apply for a business visa, which is part of the Golden Visa system under which foreigners can obtain a long-term visa for themselves and their dependents.

5- Open A Bank Account In Dubai

As a Dubai-based online business, you need a local bank account. The good news is that non-residents don’t have to jump through too many hoops to open a bank account in Dubai. As long as you have a password, your UAE identification card, a copy of your visa, and your business license, you should be good to go.

The largest banks in Dubai include:

While some banks cater specifically to online businesses, other banks are less accommodating, so make sure to do your research so that you get the best service possible.

Top 3 Online Business Ideas To Start In Dubai

If you’re reading this article because you’re just thinking about starting an online business in Dubai, then we have a few business ideas for you to consider:

  • Online Store: E-commerce has been booming in the UAE for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated its already rapid growth. If you have a product that people will want to purchase, then there’s nothing easier than setting up an online store and making it available to the entire world.
  • Online Teaching: Traditional learning, which can be defined as teacher-centered delivery of instruction to classes of students, doesn’t reflect our rapidly changing world. If you have any skill that’s in demand, you should consider starting an online teaching business or publishing video courses on the internet.
  • App Development: The number of smartphone users worldwide is expected to reach 3 billion by 2023, so there’s a huge opportunity to start an app development online business and publish mobile apps on major app marketplaces, such as the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Regardless of which business opportunity you decide to pursue, we hope the information provided in this article will help you achieve your business goals and grab your share of the e-commerce market.

Bonus: If you do happen to make it to Dubai, consider getting yourself a Nol card. This card gives you simple access to all public transportation options available in the city.

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How-To

How To Find The Best Remote Work Opportunities In The Middle East

Because remote jobs offer many attractive benefits, the demand for them is so high that it can be difficult to find the best opportunities while they’re still available. This guide will give you the edge you need to find the remote job of your dreams.

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The Middle Eastern job market looked a lot different before the pandemic disrupted established work routines in 2020. Back then, remote work was associated largely with low-paying jobs and independent freelancers juggling multiple contracts.

Now, there are ample remote work opportunities available to job seekers across the Middle East. Because they offer many attractive benefits, the demand for them is so high that it can be difficult to find the best remote jobs while they’re still available. This article is here to give you the edge you need to get the remote job of your dreams.

Benefits Of Working Remotely In The Middle East

Before we tell you where you can find the best remote work opportunities in the Middle East, we think it’s only appropriate to go over some of the biggest benefits of saying goodbye to the office life.

Improved Work-Life Balance

Improved work-life balance was among the top reasons why up to 81% of MENA professionals were seeking remote jobs in 2021. Without a lengthy and potentially stressful commute, remote workers can get straight to work and accomplish more than their office-bound colleagues. The time they save can be dedicated to anything from dropping kids off at school to jogging around the block to completing a chapter of an online course.

More Work Opportunities

The best work opportunities are naturally concentrated in the largest and wealthiest metropolitan areas in the Middle East, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Tehran, Istanbul, Baghdad, Riyadh, Ankara, Jeddah, Amman, and Tel Aviv. For those who live far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, remote work is a great way to find a well-paying job without leaving behind the quiet and serenity of country life.

Higher Income & Lower Expenses

Better work opportunities and higher income go hand in hand. But remote work can also significantly lower your expenses. Just consider how much money you spend on transportation, work clothes, and eating out. Sure, remote workers also have their fair share of work-related expenses, such as IT equipment, but increasingly many employers are willing to cover them.

Less Office Politics

Remote workers are deprived of fun water cooler moments (unless they decide to buy a water cooler and meet at it with their family or roommates), but they’re largely spared of office politics and gossip. If you’re someone who despises this aspect of office work, then this benefit alone may be enough for you to fall in love with remote work.

Location Independence

Remote workers can work for companies from across the entire Middle East region, and they can do so from anywhere they want. Is there a cozy coffee shop close to where you live? Then why not make it your office for a morning or two every week? Or perhaps you would like to go on a long trip and wake up somewhere else every week for a year? Remote work can make it possible even if you don’t have enough money saved to live without a job.

Top Places To Find Remote Work Jobs In The Middle East

There are several thriving job boards in the Middle East where you can find life-changing remote work jobs. We recommend you cast a wide net and focus on multiple job boards at the same time. To make your life easier, you can subscribe to receive new remote work jobs straight to your inbox as soon as they become available.

Bayt

bayt homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 903

Bayt is a great place to start your job search when looking for a remote job in the Middle East. The site was founded in 2000 by Rabea Ataya, and it now serves over 27 million professionals from its 12 regional offices.

At the time of writing this article, Bayt lists almost 5,000 jobs in Dubai, around 3,500 jobs in Cairo, and 2,000 jobs in Abu Dhabi — that’s just to give you an idea of how many Middle East job opportunities the site has to offer. To see only those that can be done remotely, all you need to do is click the “Work from Home Jobs” toggle.

In addition to helping you find great remote jobs by location, sector, or company, Bayt can also assist you with the creation of your resume. You can either create an online CV or take advantage of Bayt’s CV services to kickstart your career with a truly professional resume.

NaukriGulf

naukrigulf homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 775

With over 45,000 active job offers, NaukriGulf is one of the largest job search sites in the MENA region. The companies that advertise job vacancies on the site include Salam Technology, Wipro, ICICI Bank Limited, Outrider, Al Barakah Holding, and others.

Unfortunately, there’s no filter for remote jobs, but you can use the search feature to display only jobs that mention the word “remote” in the job title. You can then refine your search by industry, required experience, monthly salary, and other criteria.

GulfTalent

gulftalent homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 40

GulfTalent is an online recruitment platform where you can register if you want the remote job of your dreams to come to you. The company claims that 60,000 professionals get contacted by employers every month through its platform. Some of the top employers currently hiring on GulfTalent are Deloitte, Coca-Cola, Parsons, and Emirates.

Besides waiting for recruiters to contact you, you can also take the initiative and see what jobs have been posted on the platform by city, country, or category. There’s a handy filter option for remote jobs, and we were able to find 40 of them. That’s fewer than we expected, but at least most of them were posted fairly recently.

Tanqeeb

tanqeeb homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 19

Tanqeeb is the biggest job search engine in the MENA region. You can use it to instantly see what remote jobs are available in different industries. Just like our second favorite place to find remote jobs in the Middle East, Naukrigulf, this site also doesn’t let you hide jobs that can’t be done remotely, so you have to rely on keyword-based searches.

To get the most accurate results, we recommend you click the settings icon in the search bar and choose to search in job titles only. Using this method, we found 19 job offers, the oldest of which was published at the end of August 2022, less than three months before we started working on this article.

LinkedIn

linkedin jobs homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 6,372

When it comes to the number of available remote jobs, LinkedIn wins the race. By selecting “Middle East” as our location and applying the remote filter, we were able to find over 6,000 jobs. Best of all, LinkedIn was able to automatically suggest the most relevant jobs based on our profile information.

But quantity and quality are not the same thing, and that’s where things get ugly. The problem with LinkedIn job offers is that many of them are fake, created by recruiters who want to collect resumes just to expand their talent databases. Still, you should definitely give LinkedIn a try, especially considering that you most likely already have an account there.

Indeed

indeed homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 200,000+

Indeed is the highest-traffic job website in the United States, and its availability extends to over 60 other countries. The website was founded in 2004, and it now employs more than 12,000 employees — that’s more people than the number of jobs available on many smaller job websites.

Because Indeed lists over 200,000 remote jobs from companies around the world, it’s best to specify the desired location of the employer before applying the remote job filter to narrow down the number of search results. This way, we were able to find over 200 remote jobs in Dubai.

Glassdoor

glassdoor homepage

Number of remote jobs at the time of writing: 160,000+

Glassdoor is first and foremost an employer review site where former employees leave anonymous company reviews. You should consult it before applying for a job at a company you’re not familiar with to see how happy those who have worked there before were with their jobs.

Besides its growing database of company reviews, Glassdoor also runs a job board with over 160,000 jobs offers that include the keyword “remote.” Just like with Indeed, it’s best to narrow them down by employer location otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time sifting through offers from the other side of the world.

In-Demand Remote Jobs To Consider In The Middle East

It’s only natural that some jobs are better suited to remote work than others. After all, we still don’t have the technology that would allow construction workers to lay bricks from the comfort of their living rooms and most theater attendees wouldn’t be happy to see a bunch of holograms instead of real actors.

But even as far as white-collar office jobs go, some are much easier to do remotely, and such jobs tend to be in the highest demand as far as the number of available job opportunities goes. Here are some of them:

Information Technology

The demand for software developers, information security professionals, data science experts, and other IT employees is relentless, and it’s still growing. Because IT employees are already deeply familiar with the technologies that make remote work possible, they seldom struggle with the transition from in-office jobs to remote jobs.

Sales

Long gone are the days when large sales deals used to always end with a firm handshake. These days, it’s perfectly normal for sales representatives to communicate with existing and potential customers only via phone or email. The nature of remote sales jobs makes them suitable for people who do well under pressure and are already striving to break their own records.

Customer Service

Customer service is the backbone of every successful business, and there’s no shortage of customer service jobs across virtually all industries. Such jobs are great for people with no experience as the first rungs on their career ladders. They make it possible to gain useful industry experience and learn about the most frequently encountered issues from the point of view of those who encounter them.

Digital Marketing

The global digital marketing market is forecast to reach a value of around $807 billion by 2026, up from $305 billion in 2020. Given this huge growth projection, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the demand for digital marketing professionals, including remote copywriters, SEO specialists, and content strategists, is similarly enormous.

Graphic Design

Graphic designers have it great because their modern tools of trade (Photoshop, Illustrator, Figma, and other graphic design software) are already digital and can run on any sufficiently capable computer. The logos, posters, website layouts, animations, and other visual content they produce with them can be effortlessly sent as email attachments and instant messages, so working remotely couldn’t be easier for them.

Essential Skills For Remote Job Seekers

Regardless of which remote work career path you decide to pursue, there are some essential skills you need to have to succeed:

  • Organizing and planning: Remote workers typically enjoy a great deal of freedom to plan their daily agenda in a way that allows maximally efficient use of time. To do so successfully, they need strong organizing and planning skills.
  • Written communication skills: Email, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and other text-focused communication channels dominate the world of remote work, so it’s important to have good written communication skills. This includes the ability to switch from formal language when writing an email to a superior to informal language when planning an after-work event with colleagues.
  • Teamwork and collaboration: Contrary to what some people believe, remote workers are not lone wolfs, isolated from their colleagues and reliant on friends and family members for social interaction. In reality, teamwork and collaboration are part of the remote way of working, and those who have mastered these necessary skills have a huge advantage over those who don’t.
  • Self-motivation and focus: Without a manager breathing down your neck and watching your every move from across the room, you need to find an internal source of motivation and develop the ability to focus even when distractions are in ample supply.
  • Adaptability and problem-solving: Remote workers depend on digital technology, which is evolving at a rapid pace. They need to get quickly used to the tools provided to them and independently solve minor software and hardware issues to remain available and ready to work at all times.

If you feel that you already have these skills, then there’s really nothing stopping you from pursuing any remote job opportunity you want.

Summary

The number of remote work jobs in the Middle East has grown significantly in the last two years alone, and most experts predict it to keep growing even in the future because the benefits remote work offers to employees and employers alike are too good to ignore. If you’re interested in them, then the job sites listed in this article can help you find the ideal remote job in no time. Good luck!

Bonus: If you’re looking for the top VPN services for the Middle East, check out this guide here.

What are the best job sites in the Middle East?

The best job sites for finding remote jobs in the Middle East include:
– Bayt
– Naukrigulf
– GulfTalent
– Tanqeeb
– LinkedIn

What are the best remote jobs for someone with no experience?

If you have no work experience and would like to work remotely, then we recommend you look for entry-level sales or customer support jobs in your desired industry.

Do remote jobs pay less than in-office jobs?

No, remote jobs don’t generally pay less than in-office jobs. In fact, you might end up with more money in your pocket at the end of every month because the expenses of remote workers are lower.

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