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Start an app development business in Dubai: Costs & Requirements

start an app business

Apps have become ubiquitous in recent years and there are now apps for almost anything you can think of, from sleep aids to games to navigation aids.

The value of the market for apps has soared in recent years and is now estimated to be worth more than $100 billion globally, although predictions reckon this could more than quadruple by 2026. There has also been massive growth of apps in the UAE in recent years, and it is predicted to account for about 60% of the app market in the entire Middle East region.

This means there are plenty of opportunities out there for app developers with innovative or disruptive ideas to break into the market and make money, and Dubai is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to base their business.

This feature covers various aspects of establishing an app development business in Dubai, UAE:

  • Benefits of starting an app development business in Dubai, UAE
  • Steps to start an app development business
  • Cost of setting up an app development business in Dubai
  • Working with Dtec

Benefits of starting an app development business in Dubai, UAE

There are many benefits to setting up an app development company in Dubai, UAE. For instance, the business formation process is relatively straightforward, and there are numerous spaces available to base your company, such as Dtec, which have been optimised for technology-based startups and have a range of flexible spaces and resources on offer.

Dubai also has arguably one of the best infrastructures, especially for technology-based companies, in the world. Dubai has become a hotbed for related technology companies that can collaborate with new businesses. In addition, the latest equipment and technology is easily available there and can help new companies to get established quickly. There are also numerous grants and loans that can be applied for.

In addition, Dubai also has favourable tax laws – for businesses and individuals – and entrepreneurs can sponsor visas so that employees can move to Dubai, which means they can choose to recruit the best people from all over the world.

Also, as mentioned, the market for apps is growing quickly in the UAE and wider Middle East, which means there is a large audience to target, although given the virtual nature of apps, the world can be your market.

Steps to start an app development business

There are various steps that need to be considered when setting up an app development business.

Step 1 – decide on a business activity: This is a crucial part of setting up a business, and owners must ensure the company’s activities tally with the Department of Economic Development’s (DED) official list. While the form is relatively straightforward, it must be done with care, as any mistakes in it can delay the approval the business needs to get up and running.

Step 2 – choose a name for your business: When deciding on a name, there are several things entrepreneurs need to be aware of. For one, you must check that the name is unique to your business – it cannot have the same name as any existing businesses in Dubai, so be careful to do your research before deciding anything. Also – and this may sound obvious – but the name should not contain any profane or blasphemous wording. Finally, the convention in Dubai is that businesses using a person’s name in it should have their full name: initials or just surnames are not permitted. So ‘John Smith App Development’ is fine, but not ‘J Smith App Development’ or ‘Smith’s App Development’. Entrepreneurs also need to decide on a logo, which again cannot be the same as an existing business in the UAE – although it doesn’t matter if the name is used by businesses in different countries.

Step 3 – Select where to base your business: Another consideration is where to base your operations. App businesses are often viewed as ‘virtual’ – in that apps can be built and sold from anywhere across the globe – which means app development companies don’t have to apply for a mainland license in the UAE.

However, this does mean such businesses have to be registered in one of Dubai’s free zones. Free zones have various benefits, including businesses being completely exempt from paying corporation tax. Employees are not taxed on their income either. In addition, businesses can repatriate all their capital and profits, and entrepreneurs can send all their earnings back to their country of origin. Likewise, if the business is liquidated, the entrepreneur can transfer all the capital back to their home country.

Cost of setting up an app development business in Dubai

There are numerous costs that need to be considered when setting up an app development business, which depend on the activity of the business and where you set it up.

The average cost of setting up a company in Dubai is about AED15,000–AED25,000, although this depends on the licenses and visas required.

Those wanting to set up an app development business should also be mindful of other costs, such as setting up a workspace and buying in any equipment needed for the business.

Working with Dtec

If you are looking to set up an app development business in Dubai, UAE, then Dtec can help. Dtec aims to help people to establish a new company, including providing assistance with processing visas, giving access to high-speed wifi as well as a range of meeting and event spaces.

Dtec offers flexible office or coworking space in Dubai that technology-focused startups and entrepreneurs can rent. Dtec is the biggest technology innovation campus in the MENA region and is already the base for a wide range of innovative technology-based businesses from across the globe.

Dtec has everything that entrepreneurs could need to see their vision become a reality, from collaborative coworking spaces to accelerator programs, access to funding and regular networking events attended by leading figures in the technology space in the region.

For more information on Dtec, please visit our website: