Dubai is a food lover’s paradise. Whether you want to eat out or order fine dining to your door, the emirate’s restaurants have you covered. And there’s plenty of choice on offer too – with global cuisine from every corner of the globe.
Such is the scale of the UAE’s food and beverage industry that revenues are predicted to reach almost USD 300bn by the end of this year.
A little more digging and it’s clear to see why food is such big business out here. The average UAE resident eats out 6.75 times per week. That’s more that the US with an average of 4.2 times per week.
So, if you’re looking to move into the world of dining in the UAE, you’ll find a large and welcoming customer base upon your arrival.
Benefits of starting a restaurant business in Dubai
First things first, there are many incredible benefits on offer to businesses across all industries in the UAE. There’s the country’s 0% tax rate on both corporate and personal income, along with a low and flat VAT rate of 5%.
Then there is Dubai’s affluent and metropolitan population who are happy to spend on fine dining and opt for a takeout over a home cooked meal.
With the right support, setting up a restaurant business in this part of the world can be both fast and straightforward, with licenses issued in a matter of weeks.
Steps to open a restaurant in Dubai, UAE
Setting up a restaurant in Dubai is a little more involved than starting a business that does not involve the preparation and sale of food. That’s why the first entry on your to-do list should be to partner with a company formation expert such as Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ).
After a short consultation to understand the needs of your business, we can guide you through the following process.
Step 1: Choosing your business activity
There are many subsectors within the restaurant industry, so you’ll need to be specific about the type of eatery you wish to establish.
As part of your license application, you will need to specify whether you intend to run a bar, café, restaurant, take away kitchen and so on. You will also need to make clear the type of cuisine you wish to sell and how you wish to sell it – eat-in, take-out, delivery.
It’s important to note that you are only permitted to carry out the activities that are listed on your license. However, you can add more activities later.
Step 2: Choosing your company name
Now you move on to the important matter of your company name. There are a few key things to keep in mind at this stage.
You must abide by a strict set of naming conventions – no offensive or blasphemous language and avoid names of other well-known organisations. Also if naming your company after yourself you must avoid abbreviations – ie, Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D. Mann Consulting.
Step 3: Applying for your licenses
With these key decisions made you can now make your license applications. There are two stages to this process.
You should first apply to the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) for your trade license. This is an online application and often takes under an hour.
On top of this application, you will also need to obtain a food license, issued by the Dubai Municipality’s food safety department.
One of the stipulations of this license is that you adhere to Dubai’s Food Code. This covers everything from where food can be made and stored, along with requirements regarding emergency exits and ventilation.
Step 4: Applying for your visa
You can also make visa applications for you and your employees at this stage too.
With the right guidance, the visa application process can be incredibly straightforward. Most company formation agents can help you with this step as well as with your license application.
As the holder of a UAE business license, you can also sponsor others for their visas too. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.
Documents required to start a restaurant in Dubai, UAE
When applying for a restaurant license in Dubai, UAE, you are required to submit the following documentation:
- Completed application form
- Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
- Two colour passport size photos
To obtain a food license, you will also need to get your plans approved by the food control department. As part of this process, you will be asked to submit a copy of your trade license, the floorplan of your restaurant, and details of all food processing areas, storage areas, and food processing and washing equipment.
Cost of starting a restaurant in Dubai
The total cost of starting a restaurant in Dubai can vary significantly depending on the type of establishment you intend to open. A food truck or takeaway kitchen will require considerably less start-up capital than a bricks and mortar restaurant, for example.
The best way to get an idea of total costs involved is to talk to BIZ. We can take the time to understand your requirements before drawing up a detailed quote.
Are you ready to start a restaurant business in Dubai?
Hopefully this guide has made clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, setting up a restaurant 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 ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a Dubai business setup 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 visa 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.