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How to start a software company in Dubai

start a software business in Dubai

Eyes from around the world have been on the Dubai software industry for some time now. Part of the UAE’s estimated USD 8bn IT market, it is home to some of the most exciting names in the development space.

Often dubbed the Silicon Valley of the Middle East, Dubai has attracted some of the best in the industry to its shores, and it’s easy to see why.

The emirate’s location and time zone make it the perfect place to trade and collaborate with other tech hubs around the world, for one. Then there is the low tax environment, supportive business environment and straightforward company incorporation process to consider.

So, if you’re ready to start a software company, there are plenty of reasons to get started in Dubai.

Starting a software company in Dubai – key considerations

Before you apply to open a software company in Dubai, it pays to do your research on the nation’s free zones. UAE free trade zones are often the most cost-effective way to start a business out here.

As well as offering universal benefits such as 100% customs tax exemptions and capital and profit repatriation, free zones allow entrepreneurs to always maintain ownership of their business. Most also offer office and coworking space, reception cover and access to meeting and conference rooms, as well as the use of telephones, broadband and the like.

Each free zone also offers a range of specific benefits, with some tailored to certain industries.

As the owner of a software business, you should look to find a free zone that caters to the tech sector.

Best free zone to start a software company

Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec) makes the ideal home for software companies. A technology-focused free zone, Dtec offers a supportive environment for software companies, as well as a range of workspace packages at a scale and price to suit all budgets, including:

Flexi desks: Company setup with workspace in any of our common areas.

Fixed desks: Company setup with your own fixed workstation in a shared area with lockable storage.

Private offices: Company setup with your own furnished or unfurnished office between 12-50sqm.

As well as a great coworking space, Dtec is home to a vast network of mentors, advisers, and educators, with many receptive to collaboration, pitches, and investment opportunities. The 10,000 sqm facility is home to an integrated ecosystem for hundreds of startups, SMEs and technology entrepreneurs from around the world.

Along with organic opportunities to engage and collaborate, Dtec also runs a range of formal events, including Partner Labs, the Corporate Partner Network, an annual pitch competition, and several acceleration programs.

How to start a software company in Dubai

Before making your application for a software license in Dubai, you must first outline your business activities. This will help you determine the right license and setup type for your business and will help your company setup agent manage your application.

Next, you’ll have to choose a company name. It’s best to do this upfront as you’ll need to register it before you can trade in the UAE. You’ll need to abide by a few naming conventions that you must comply with. They include:

  • Only full names allowed, no abbreviations.
  • Cannot include any potentially offensive or blasphemous words.
  • Must be available to register.

Now you can apply for your software license. You are free to make this application yourself, but it’s advisable to work closely with a free zone or company setup agent at this stage. They can make sure your application is correct and prevent any undue hassle further down the line.

When making your application, you are usually required to provide some basic documentation such as a passport copy and business plan.

What is the cost of setting up a software company in Dubai, UAE

It is not easy to indicate the exact costs of starting a software company in Dubai. There are many factors at play. Are you planning to work alone or hire employees? Will you require permanent premises or will coworking space suffice?

Whatever the size and setup of your operation, doing business in a free zone can be a great way to keep startup costs low. Free zones such as Dtec offer package prices, inclusive of visa applications and the use of office facilities.

The flexi desk package, for example, includes a service license, the use of a workspace in a common area and eligibility for two visas. This package starts at AED 18,000 per year.

Dtec also offers a license with fixed desks and eligibility for three visas for AED 24,200 per year, plus furnished private offices, inclusive of two visas per desk, for AED 47,820 per year.

Starting your business at Dtec

If you’re looking to start a software business in Dubai, UAE, there’s no better base than Dtec. Apply with us, and we’ll handle every step of the process for you – helping to outline activities, register your company name, applying for your license and visas, and supporting you once you’re up and running.

For technology startups and entrepreneurs looking for flexible coworking or office space in Dubai, Dtec offers a nurturing, supportive community from which to set up your new business.

Got a great idea you want to see realised? Everything you need can be found in Dtec. Our coworking space encourages collaboration, our accelerator programs and funding arm give a young business setup in the UAE a head start, and our networking events ensure you get your name out there and stay on top of industry trends. We take care of everything, leaving you to take care of your business.