Invest UAE
Wasiff Khan, Partner and MD GCC, Liberty Business Advisors Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

The UAE remains a land of unparalleled opportunity for savvy investors ready to navigate its dynamic market, said Wasiff Khan, Partner and MD GCC, Liberty Business Advisors. 

He revealed why the UAE is currently a prime hotspot for business acquisitions, highlighting consistent growth, simplified regulations, and substantial financial benefits, at a fireside chat on Navigating business acquisitions in the UAE market, as part of the Invest UAE seminar organised by Gulf News at the Taj Dubai, Business Bay.

"Recently, a UN report ranked the UAE second after the US in terms of new foreign direct investment projects as of 2043," he says. "The UAE has seen consistent growth across multiple sectors, including retail, food, healthcare, and manufacturing, offering vast opportunities for business acquisitions."

For foreign investors eyeing the UAE market, understanding the local legal and regulatory landscape is crucial. "First, you must understand you're a foreigner and need to know the laws of the land," Khan says. He adds that while obtaining licenses has become simpler, ensuring long-term compliance with UAE laws remains essential.

Many entrepreneurs are drawn to the UAE for its support network, culture, safety, and prime location. But are these the same reasons that attract investors, or is it the financial opportunities? "The opportunities in Dubai are substantial, including tax savings and other financial benefits," Khan explains. "The global investment influx underscores the UAE's appeal from both financial and lifestyle perspectives."

When assessing the financial health of a potential acquisition, Khan advises thorough due diligence. "You need to check audit reports, financial statements, bank records, and VAT compliance," he notes. "Engaging mergers and acquisitions (M&A) lawyers can also help safeguard interests and ensure compliance with UAE laws."

Discussing common pitfalls for first-time investors, Khan said acquiring an existing business is generally lower risk than starting a new one. "The goal is to scale the business and grow it further. It's crucial to understand the risks and ensure transparency in the business's financial health and operations," he advises.

A significant change in regulations has made it easier for foreign investors to buy businesses without needing a local partner. "You no longer need a local partner to acquire a business," Khan points out. "Platforms such as Buy Business Dubai offer due diligence, transparency, and post-transaction support, simplifying the acquisition process."

Reflecting on post-Covid trends, Khan notes a heightened awareness of safety and stability, driving more investors to Dubai. "We assist these clients by providing transparent and ready businesses with established customer bases and revenue streams," he says.

Looking ahead, Khan is optimistic about the market's trajectory. "The UAE's GDP has almost doubled, thanks to the leadership's efforts in creating opportunities across various industries," he believes. "The market is poised for continued growth, attracting more investments."

For those considering selling their businesses, Khan has timely advice. "Now is a great time to sell, as it is a seller's market with high demand," he asserts. "The rapid acquisition of businesses presents sellers with excellent opportunities to capitalise on their investments."