Reflecting on 2023 so Far: Interview w/ Basma

Hitting the halfway mark of the year presented the perfect opportunity to sit and reflect on H1 2023 with our CEO, Basma Ashry. We reflect on the year so far, previous predictions for the year and how they’ve materialized, personal triumphs, and the business landscape in the country heading into the second half of 2023.


Hi Basma! Can you believe half of 2023 has passed already?

Hasn’t it just flown past! I feel like we say the same thing every week, every month. Time flies when you’re having fun I suppose!

We sat down before the start of 2023 and discussed potential new trends to really thrive in the market during the year. Do you remember what they were?

I actually don’t! The landscape changes so much that I can barely remember what was new last month, never mind the beginning of the year. I’m sure you’re going to remind me, though…

Of course! The three main topics were AI, TikTok, and crypto. How would you rate your predictions?

I would give myself a score of 66.6% in that case. I feel like crypto popularity has fallen away a bit, and we don’t really see a great deal of demand for the industry from entrepreneurs. It was a real hot topic this time last year but that seems to have faded a bit. The big players like Binance are still around, and I know that there’s work going on in the background to see how crypto can play a role in Dubai business, but the ‘hype’ isn’t quite there like it was before.

TikTok is a solid platform in every marketing strategy now. You have to be creating solid content and making noise there to ensure you get noticed. With the search engine function being developed, it’s a great place to create content that your audience is searching for. We’ve been trying our best to do that.

And as for AI, that’s changed the game completely. If you haven’t heard of, or used, ChatGPT or any of the thousands of AI plugins available…well there’s just no way you have missed it actually! I think we can expect to see this continue to develop week by week.

On a personal note, you were promoted to CEO at the company. Congratulations! Was this an ambition of yours or did it come naturally?

Thank you so much! I’m very proud to lead this incredible team and set the tone for supporting entrepreneurs in starting their business stories. Truth be told, it wasn’t planned and it wasn’t a specific ambition. I just want to do my best each day and see where it takes me. It’s amazing what kind of journey you can go on if you take things one day at a time and always put 100% into what you do. I’m very grateful.

How has 2023 been so far with your own business? Is it meeting your expectations?

Dubai continues to be very popular. The demand for starting a business in Dubai is still strong, and we’re exactly where we expected to be business. Even with the introduction of the new corporate tax, we haven’t seen a slowdown. In fact, we’ve started to see more demand for setting up consultancy businesses, as there’s a bit of knowledge gap about taxation that business people from elsewhere are lending their experience to close.


On that note, what are some trends you’re currently seeing with entrepreneurship and business setup in 2023?

What’s been interesting is the demand from Europe, particularly western Europe.  France, Germany and the UK are our most popular places to enquire from outside of the Middle East. 

As I mentioned too, we haven’t seen any major dips in demand as a result of the new corporate tax. I think there’s a bit of a link between both factors. European countries are used to tax, they know the overall processes and how to set their business up to manage it. While it’s new to the UAE, it’s not to many entrepreneurs from overseas. In fact, they’d be quite happy with 9%! 

What’s next for the company under your leadership? What are your main priorities heading into the second half of the year?

We have our own internal targets first and foremost, based on performance in the first half of the year. Our goal is to better our performance from that period as a minimum. 

Second, we want to become THE place that entrepreneurs go to for advice and assistance on the corporate tax, and we want to create a space where individuals with the right skill set and experience can open their businesses seamlessly to support with the corporate tax. I mentioned that we have seen a growth in demand for setting up consultancy services as the country adapts to the tax. If you’re an entrepreneur with tax experience from Europe or afar, we want you to talk to us about how you can provide an incredibly valuable service to the businesses of the UAE.

We’re always looking to improve our services too, so it’s an easy process for entrepreneurs to get started. We pride ourselves on our ability to keep the business setup process moving quickly, so we’ll always be focusing on making sure we’re providing the best possible service for entrepreneurs in the region. 

Are you prepared to make any predictions about the remainder of 2023?!

Yes! I think it’s safe to say we’re going to see a lot more corporate tax services available in the coming months. That’s the big talking point right now and conversations continue daily. So if you’re an entrepreneur who’s not quite sure about how the corporate tax works, help will be at hand everywhere you look. You can always talk to us as well for the information you need. Check our socials too as we’ve been creating some insightful content about what the corporate tax means for your business.

Aside from that, let’s see how things play out. 

Thank you Basma! All the best for the coming months.

My pleasure!

Business Incorporation Zone: Basma Interview – 2022 Review & Prospects For 2023

It’s been quite a year for Business Incorporation Zone, and 2023 promises to hold even more great memories. 

We sat with General Manager, and multiple award winner in 2022, Basma Ashry, to reflect on the year that’s been, and look ahead to the year that will be.

2022 Reflections

Hi Basma! Happy New Year. 

Happy New Year!

Now that the fireworks have settled, how do you reflect on 2022?

2022 was a year we made a lot of great things happen. It always felt like we were never too far away from the next big thing, whether it was an event, a campaign, or just the next source of excitement. 

With that said too, we made great strides as a business. We were recognised by Sharjah Freezone as a High Performing Partner, and Gulf Business and Gulf News featured team members in interviews and articles published on their reputable channels. That was nice, and well deserved recognition. 

Just how much progress has the team made this past year?

It’s been incredible, really. Not just the development of the team overall, but the individuals within them as people. That’s possibly my favourite part of leading this team – watching the people within it develop and grow. I know I can trust them to take care of our customers. Business setup in Dubai is becoming so popular now, with entrepreneurs approaching us from markets across the globe. The fact that the team has kept pace with demand is testament to their progress and determination to do well.

Talk us through some of your standout moments in 2022.

Oh wow – where to even start! Well firstly there were so many memorable moments. Women’s Day, the Iftar Party, and the Business Incorporation Zone Golf Day spring to mind. The days when we get everybody together and celebrate the team are for sure some of my favourites. Winning team awards and personal accolades too are always welcome, too. Those are notable highlights, but to be honest, there have been so many little moments throughout the year that have contributed to the success of the business throughout the year, and they hold their own special value. 

Which moment stands out to you the most on a personal level? 

A little bit left field, but I am so so proud of being able to sit down with Steven Bartlett at the Dubai Opera House, back in March, and talk entrepreneurship. Steven is a very inspirational character, achieving so much in his short career so far. His podcast always has such great guests too, it was nice to be involved in a similar conversation. And of course, winning the Emerging Female Business Leader accolade is just so humbling. There is honestly no magic formula, just do your best each day and be proud of your work. The rest will follow.

Is there a particular client success story that stands out to you from the previous year?

Yes! We actually ran a competition last year giving away a free trade license, allowing a local entrepreneur to complete their business setup in Dubai without the usual setup costs. That’s something I will never forget – giving like minded people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. 

2023 Dubai Business Updates

Looking ahead to 2023, what are the first items on your to-do list?

Well, there’s a lot of change coming to Dubai in 2023, so getting the full picture of the impact of these changes is crucial to us as a team. It’s critical we keep our customers informed, and have the most up to date information. Then, I’ll be setting the direction for the company and identifying just how to achieve the goals we’re aiming for. It’s all very top level stuff to begin with, heading down to the finer details as we go. 

What are the key business updates for entrepreneurs to know about for the coming year?

We will be going into some detail about many updates in the coming months. Most notably for entrepreneurs across the country is the introduction of a 9% corporate tax. If your business makes over 375,000 AED in profits, you’ll be subject to this tax. If not, it won’t apply to you, but I’m sure you’re aiming for those heights! There will of course be some exemptions too, so stay tuned for the finer details. There are also Emiratisation requirements now, as well as a mandatory social security scheme – reach out to us if you’re not across these updates just yet, as they will undoubtedly impact business setup in Dubai for everybody. 

What’s a personal aim you have for 2023?

I try not to be too strict on my personal goals. Just show up, every day, do the very best for my team, and see where it takes me. I won a couple of awards for it last year, so I must be doing something right!

We can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. All the best Basma!

Thank you so much! You’ll be seeing our name plenty this year. 


أسئلة عامة مع المدير العام/ بسمة عشري

عندما كنتِ صغيرة، ماذا كانت وظيفة أحلامك؟ 

أوه! لم تكن لدي أي فكرة، أنا متأكدة أن قد كانت عندي بعض أحلام الأطفال المعتادة، ولكني أعتقد أنني أردت أن أكون ناجحة. أردت أن أقوم بشيء ذي أهمية وأن أصنع الفارق. قد أدركت ذلك عندما صرت أكبر. 

كنت أعلم جيدا أنني لدي مجموعة قوية من القيم الشخصية التي أهدف لاستخدامها. أعتقد أنني أردت الذهاب بعيدا في طريق النجاح.

في رأيك، ما هو المفتاح الأساسي لصناعة رجل أعمال ناجح؟

أعتقد أن ينبغي أن يكون لديك هدفا واضحا. بدون اختيار الطريق، ستصبح تائها، وبالتالي ستنفق وقتك مهام لا علاقة لها بالقيم التي تود تحقيقها. 

كما تعلم، إن الفاعلية هي عبارك عن مجموعة عادات صغيرة تقوم بها باستمرار. لا يوجد خدعة سحرية يمكنك فعلها، وإلا فليفعلها الجميع! عندما نتحدث عن الفاعلية، فنحن نتحدث عن التفاصيل الصغيرة. 

عليك أيضا أن تهتم بنظامك الغذائي. تجنب الوجبات التي تحتوي على كميات كبيرة من الكاربوهيدرات في منتصف اليوم. بكل أمانة، إننا نقضي أوقاتا كثيرة في الحديث عن كيفية فعل كذا وكذا وكذا، ولكن إذا لم تكن متحمسًا للمهمة، فأنت مقصر بالفعل. لا تنس، عليك بتناول الكثير من الخضروات. 

كرائدة أعمال، كيف تتمكنين من الحصول على فترة استرخاء؟ 

لست متأكدة من مدى إمكانية تواجد كلمة “استرخاء” مع كلمة “رائدة أعمال” في نفس الجملة! حسنا، إني أمزح بالطبع. إن هذا هو أهم شيء لأي شخص  يعمل في دور إداري أو قيادي. لقد شاهدت ذلك بعيني خلال رحلتي العملية. أنجح الأشخاص الذين قابلتهم هم أولئك الذين لديهم هوايات. إنهم يحافظون على لياقتهم، ولديهم حياة شخصية سعيدة. إنهم يعرفون كيف يوفقون بين جميع جوانب الحياة! 

تنظر إليهم وتقول.. كيف لديهم وقت لكل شيء؟ ولكن المفتاح هو أن تصنع الوقت. كل يوم بالنسبة لهم يمثل لوحة فارغة، إن أرادوا أن يتناولوا وجبة الغداء في ساعتين، فإن العالم يمكنه الانتظار. أحب تلك الشخصية! 

إنني محظوظة لامتلاكي أفضل حياة عائلية على الإطلاق. تذكرني كرتي الفرو – لوسي (تقييمها عندي ١٠/١٠ بصراحة) أن في الحياة أشياء أخرى أكبر من العمل طوال اليوم أثناء كل أيام الأسبوع. 

هنالك من يعيشون لأجل العمل، هذا جيد، جيد لهم، ولكن لست متأكدة من كونهم يحصلون على راحة. 

 أحاول الاسترخاء تماما في أي وقت أكون فيه بعيدة عن الحاسوب، والشاشة، واجتماعات العمل، وأوقات التسليم. كما أحب الالتزام التام في العمل، فإني أحب الالتزام التام في الإجازات. عليك أن تجرب ذلك! 

بماذا تشعرين عندما يتم الإشارة إليكِ كإحدى “الرواد الأوائل” في مجال العمل الحر بالنسبة للنساء؟

حسنا، لم يكن ذلك حلمي، ولكن على كل حال، فأستطيع أن أقول إجابةً على سؤالك: الحياة مليئة باللحظات الرائعة التي تحب أن تحظى بها مثل تلك اللحظة.

إنها اللحظة التي تثبت لي أنني أقوم بعمل شيء جيد.

إنه من المميز للغاية أن أحظى بلقب كهذا مرتبط بأولئك الذين يحلقون عاليا في سماء النجاح، ويقومون بعمل فارق واضح يمكن ملاحظته.

أنا فقط أحاول أن أكون (أنا).. وأن أعيش بقواعدي. إذا كان ذلك يجعلني من الرواد الملهمين، فأنا سعيدة بذلك!

الشيء الأساسي بالنسبة لي هو رسم ملامح الطريق للصاعدين والقادة القادمين. لا فائدة من أن تكون رائداً إذا لم تحضر شخصاً معك في رأيي.

ما هي النصيحة التي تودين أن تقديمها لمن يرغب أن يبدأ الخاص؟

سأقدم نصيحة من منظور شخصي أكثر من كونه احترافي. لا تتوقع أن يصبح كل شيء على ما يرام، وتوقع أن تواكه بعض العقبات. سيكون الطريق صعبا، ولكن إن آمنت بفكرتك وبما تفعله، ستنجح.

عليك أن تلجأ لشخص لديه خبرات في المجال. لا يجب أن يكونوا أشخاص تعرفهم. أضمن لك إن سددت تصويبتك، وأرسلت بريدا إلكترونيا لخمسين من الرؤساء التنفيذيين للشركات، على الأقل ستجد واحدا منهم ليساعدك. لأن في الغالب جميعهم يمتلكون شخصا مرشدا لهم، أو لأنهم يقومون بصناعة منتج لمساعدة الناس أو حل مشكلاتهم، فهم يتنفسون تقديمَ المساعدة.

أوه، تذكرت، عليك أن تحصل على راحة من حين لآخر، فهذا من حقك. 🙂

5 Quickfire Questions with General Manager, Basma Ashry

  • What did you want to be when you were little?

Oh gosh! I had no idea! I’m sure I had the usual little kid dreams as I grew up, but I guess I just wanted to be successful. I wanted to do something important and make a difference really. That was something I realized as I got older.

I knew that I had a strong set of personal values, and the ambition to use them. I guess I just wanted to go far. That was it.

  • What’s the key to being efficient as an entrepreneur, do you think?

I think you first need to have a clear aim. Without a North Star, so to speak, you don’t know where you’re heading, so you’ll spend your time on tasks that aren’t delivering the kind of value they need to.

You know, efficiency is in your micro habits. There’s not some big hack that everyone knows, otherwise, everyone would be doing it, right? It’s about taking care of the finer details.

Also, take care of your diet! Avoid carb-heavy foods in the middle of the day that will make you feel tired. Honestly, we spend so long talking about how you can do A, B, and C, but if you’re not fuelled up for the task, you’re already falling short. Plenty of vegetables!

  • How do you relax being a business leader?

I’m not quite so sure the words ‘relax’ and ‘business leader’ go in the same sentence really! No, that’s not true I’m kidding of course. It’s actually the most crucial thing someone in a leadership position can do, and I’ve seen that with my own two eyes throughout my career. The most successful people I’ve met are the ones who have hobbies, stay fit, they have a happy home life…they just seem to know how to juggle everything! 

You look at them and you think – how do you have the time to do everything?! But the key is, they make the time. Every day is a blank canvas for them, and if they want to carve a bit of running into their lunchtime and it takes 2 hours, well the world can wait. I love that attitude!

I am very lucky to have the most wonderful family life, and my fluffball Lucy (she’s a 10/10, honestly) reminds me that there are bigger things to think about in life than work 24/7. 

Some people live to work, and that’s fine! Good for them. I’m not sure they ever relax though.

Any time away from the laptop, the screen, business meetings, or deadlines, I try to jump all into relaxing. Just like I commit 100% to work, I commit 100% to putting my feet up and unwind. You should try it!

  • How did it feel to be noted as one of the ‘trailblazers’ for women in business?

Life is full of little moments where you think – while this wasn’t my specific dream, it’s pretty damn cool to experience this. It’s a moment where it proves, hey, maybe I’m doing something right!

It’s an incredible privilege to be recognized as a trailblazer particularly. Such a term is associated with high flyers, people doing something differently, making a real change you know. I’m just trying to be me, and live by my principles. If that makes me a trailblazer, I’m happy to go with it!

The thing that’s key for me is to set the tone for up-and-coming leaders. It’s pointless being a trailblazer if you don’t bring someone along with you in my opinion.

  • What’s one piece of advice you’d give to somebody looking to start their business?

The actual advice is more from a personal perspective than a professional one. Don’t expect to get everything right, and certainly anticipate some setbacks. The road gets bumpy, but if you believe in your idea and what you’re doing, you will be fine. 

Also, have somebody you can lean on who has been there before. Honestly, they don’t even have to be someone you know! I guarantee if you shoot your shot, send an email to 50 CEOs, and explain your story to them, at least 1 will hear you out and lend their ear. It’s probably because they have a mentor of their own, or they’ve made a product and found a solution to a problem that helps people. So they live and breathe helping people.

Oh, and relax from time to time! You’re allowed to 🙂 

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