While the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is mostly known for its cultural significance and its importance to the world’s energy security, it is also now one of the most exciting places in the world to invest in. And although almost all the major cities in the region, particularly those on the Arabian Peninsula, have attracted significant investment in recent decades, Dubai often stands out as a clear favorite among global investors and entrepreneurs.
Dubai is the only major city and capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the wealthiest emirates in the Federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Over the past two decades, Dubai has arguably become the trade epicenter of the MENA region. Below are some of the reasons why global investors continue to flock to this remarkable city.
1.) Special Visas for Professionals and Investors
Dubai and the other emirates that form the UAE are very keen on attracting foreign investors and professionals who could help grow the country’s economy. Given this, people with the right qualifications can have expedited access to the country. Removing red tape for these types of visitors has allowed Dubai to entice highly productive high-value individuals to the country.
2.) Government Support for Startups and SMEs
Qualified startups and SMEs can expect a remarkable amount of support from the Emirati government. Most types of legitimate businesses can enjoy some kind of preferential service or funding from the state, even when the organizations are mostly composed of foreigners. If you have an idea and limited resources to make it happen, starting a business in Dubai might just be your best bet.
3.) Strong Multiculturalism
The vast majority of Dubai’s residents are foreigners, with Emiratis only accounting for about 15% of its total population. There are very few places in the world as multicultural as Dubai, given that the emirate is home to multiple ethnic groups from virtually all of the world’s regions. If you’re dealing with someone from Dubai, you can expect that they understand how to adjust to other cultures.
4.) Strategic Geographic Location
When it comes to desirability for investments, Dubai has an enviable geographic location. In addition to being a core part of the MENA region, it is right in the middle of the densely populated areas of Europe, East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Central Asia.
What’s more, many investors and professionals from all these places are in Dubai as well. If you’re looking to build an international network with a strong foundation, Dubai may be the place for you.
5.) High Amounts of Foreign Direct Investment
The fact that a lot of foreign investors and skilled professionals are already in Dubai presents a major benefit for anyone else who wants to do business here. If you want partners, suppliers, consultants, or any other collaborator, chances are, you will find several that will fit the bill in Dubai.
This concentration of investment also means that there are several banks and other financial institutions in Dubai offering modern, top-grade, and culturally appropriate trade finance solutions. Apart from compatibility with the region’s dominant Islamic trade finance ecosystem, your preferred bank’s platform should be able to provide trade finance products and support your business needs. Indeed, if your business will be expanding into MENA with a limited capital outlay, this is a factor worth considering.
6.) Favorable Tax Laws
Dubai and the rest of the UAE have tax laws that are very favorable for business owners. To begin, there are no taxes to be paid on personal or corporate incomes. Businesses do not need to submit corporate tax returns either except for activities related to international finance or natural resource extraction. The only tax that most individuals and businesses have to pay is a 5% value-added tax on goods and services.
7.) Political Stability
The UAE’s political stability is widely regarded as one of the key ingredients to its popularity as a global investment destination. While the UAE is within a region that continues to see significant turmoil, the federation itself has avoided any major internal or external conflict since its independence from Britain in 1971. Through shrewd leadership and diplomacy, it has managed to maintain a high level of political stability since independence. This is remarkable, especially within the geopolitical context of the country.
The high level of political stability in Dubai and the rest of the UAE has proven essential for the federation’s economy. Investors who want to have a presence in the MENA region often choose to invest in the UAE first, precisely because of the low risks presented by the country.
8.) A Strong Domestic Market
While a lot of entrepreneurs consider Dubai to be a jump-off point for their global ambitions, the country itself is replete with business opportunities.
Dubai and the rest of the Emirates are home to hundreds of thousands of businesses that serve international customers, and each of them has needs that could potentially be served by other Dubai-based enterprises. Additionally, the country is home to a high concentration of high-net-worth individuals and a well-to-do population with histories of strong consumer spending. This makes Dubai’s domestic business and consumer markets well worth your attention.
9.) Simple Incorporation Process
Setting up a business in Dubai is much easier than it would be in most other countries in the world. Founders only need to complete five steps to set up a legal entity that could do business in the country. There are also several free zones and industrial parks in and around Dubai that incentivize certain types of businesses with exclusive perks and privileges.
Is Dubai the Right Fit for Your Business?
Businesses that want a long-term presence in the lucrative MENA region should strongly consider a presence in Dubai, for the reasons outlined above. Dubai’s combination of financial, political, cultural, and geographic advantages is difficult for any serious investor to ignore. Additionally, the presence of existing investments, business infrastructure, and trade finance solutions make the city an easy choice for many global investors and entrepreneurs.