The UAE is a well-known business location. What’s less known is that the Emirates is also an increasingly popular location for film production.
This emerging industry has been picking up pace in the UAE in recent years. Along with many successful home-grown studios and producers, the Emirates has provided the backdrop to several blockbuster films including the Star Trek, Star Wars and the Mission Impossible franchises.
But it’s not just our stunning scenery that makes the country such a hit with filmmakers from around the world. The UAE’s welcoming business environment and incredible infrastructure also stand it out from others in the field.
Starting a production company here is easy – if you know how. When you work with a company setup expert, you can be up and running in a matter of days. If you’re looking to switch an existing company to the UAE or taking your first foray into film production, here’s what you need to know to get started in the UAE.
How to start a film production company in the UAE
The first steps involved in starting a film production company in the UAE are the same as when setting up any type of business here.
You will first need to decide on whether you wish to do business from the mainland or in a UAE free zone. There are many advantages to both. Free zones such as Fujairah Creative City offer benefits such as a quick and easy incorporation process, ongoing business support and financial incentives such as tax exemptions and zero currency restrictions.
There may also be far less red tape involved in setting up a UAE film production company in a free zone than in the mainland – but more on that later.
Mainland businesses, on the other hand, can trade directly with the UAE market and take on government contracts. The setup that’s right for you will depend on the nature of your business. An expert in company formation can help you make this decision, advising on the best option for your specific requirements.
Before making your license application, you’ll also need to decide on a company name. There are a few key things to keep in mind at this stage – many that would not apply anywhere else in the world.
Be aware that you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions. In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – i.e. Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.
Applying for a film production license in the UAE
With the early admin taken care of, you can now apply for your UAE film production license. This process will differ depending on whether you are setting up in the mainland or in the UAE.
When setting up in the mainland, you may require additional permits and approvals on top of your video production license in Dubai.
If you wish to film inside Dubai, for example, you will need a permit from the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC). DFTC liaise with other authorities including the police and Road Transport Authority to grant permits to film around Dubai.
As free zones are self-governing, you are not usually required to obtain additional approvals before you can start trading. You may need to apply for a permit if you intend to film on location, however.
In both cases, the application process requires you to submit some basic documentation along with a complete application form. This may include:
- Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
- Two colour passport size photos.
- Details of the activities you intend to carry out
What is the cost of a video production license in Dubai, UAE
It is not easy to put a figure on the total cost of starting a video production business in the UAE. There are many factors at play – your chosen location, number of employees, and required premises, to name a few.
When it comes to the cost of the license itself, the most cost-effective option is usually to set up in a free zone.
Fujairah Creative City offers a range of license packages to suit businesses of all sizes. Freelance license packages start from just AED 19,875 and include eligibility for up to four visas.
Alternatively, the Baby Business package offers a trade license and up to six visas for AED 23,475. For larger businesses, the Genius package offers up to 15 visas, along with your production license, for AED 29,000.
Are you ready to start your film production business in Dubai?
Hopefully this guide has made clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, applying for a video production license in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complex.
That being said, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.
To help you to ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a Dubai company formation specialist such as Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ) when establishing a new company in the UAE.
We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.
As well as handling your license application, BIZ can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visas applications that are required to trade in the UAE.
In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.