Auditing UAE
There are many ingredients to making a business tick. But do make sure to have the right mix to find eventual success. Image Credit: Supplied

After successfully setting up a variety of businesses on different continents, I’ve come to realize that certain fundamental principles apply without exception.

My 19 years of experience in Dubai has reinforced the importance of assessing and addressing the fundamental principles when it comes to establishing a thriving business in the UAE. The unique economic, cultural, and regulatory aspects of this dynamic market play a pivotal role in achieving success.

Here are the seven key considerations you should keep in mind:

Market research, location

Customize your business approach to align with the local market’s cultural and economic nuances. Start by executing comprehensive market research to gain insights into specific needs, preferences, and behaviors of your target audience. This research will guide your product or service offerings and marketing strategies.

Establish a strong local presence

Comply with UAE regulations by registering your business appropriately. Depending on your business type, this may involve partnering with a local sponsor, setting up a free zone company, or other legal structures. Choose strategic locations for your physical offices or retail outlets to enhance local visibility and accessibility.

Digital marketing and ecommerce

The UAE has a highly connected population, making it crucial to have a solid online presence. Develop a mobile-responsive website that supports both Arabic and English languages. Invest in digital marketing techniques, such as social media marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO), to effectively engage your target audience.

Consider leveraging ecommerce platforms to tap into the growing trend of online shopping in the UAE.

Did you know that a report from 2022 shows that in the UAE, out of a total population of 10.17 million people, 10.07 million (or 99 per cent), are using the internet, and 9.97 million (98.99 per cent) are actively engaged on social media?

Relationship building

In the UAE, networking plays a pivotal role in business success. Building and nurturing relationships with local businesses, industry peers, and potential partners is essential. When doing this, consider that cultural factors heavily influence business success in the UAE.

Respect local customs and traditions and build trust with your local counterparts and customers. Focus on building long-term relationships, as this is highly valued in UAE business culture.

Networking with local businesses, attending industry events, and participating in trade shows can help establish valuable connections and partnerships.

Compliance and legal understanding

Familiarize yourself with UAE laws and regulations relevant to your industry. Ensure your business complies with tax, licensing, and labor regulations. Seek legal counsel to navigate any legal complexities, contracts, or partnerships you may enter into. Complying with the local legal framework is essential for long-term sustainability.


Emphasize the importance of quality and reliability in your products or services. Building a strong reputation is key in the UAE, where word-of-mouth and referrals often play a significant role in business growth. Consistently delivering high-quality offerings can help you gain the trust of customers and partners alike.


Stay updated on market trends and adapt your business strategies continuously. The UAE market is highly competitive, and innovation can set you apart. Embrace technology and innovation in your operations and be open to evolving your business model to meet changing market demands.

Thriving in the UAE requires a well-rounded approach that combines market research, localization, compliance, cultural sensitivity, and a solid online presence. Building trust and reputation is critical, and a commitment to quality and innovation will position your business for long-term success in this dynamic and diverse market.