Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Senior Visual Journalist

Gulf News’ Invest UAE seminar on June 25 spotlighted the lucrative economic opportunities within the UAE. The day-long event focused on the country's thriving business environment that supports both budding entrepreneurs and established enterprises in driving growth and exploring new opportunities.

Here are top 10 reasons why the UAE is the ultimate launchpad for business.

1. Ease of doing business

Owing to government support, strong infrastructures, and streamlined business operations, the UAE has become highly attractive for entrepreneurs and foreign investors looking to establish and expand their companies. Notably, the UAE has risen three spots to secure seventh place in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2024, published by the World Competitiveness Centre of the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

“The UAE, with its strategic location and proven track record of weathering crisis situations, like the pandemic, has established itself as an ideal investment destination. Its resilience, stability, and robust infrastructure make it a prime hub for global business,” said Ismail Al Naqi, Director General of Free Zones Authority of Ajman.

Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Senior Visual Journalist

2. Transparency and compliance

The introduction of corporate tax has boosted the UAE’s standing as a transparent and compliant business destination. “Any compliance enhances the reputation of the jurisdiction,” said Nirav Shah, Director of Fame Advisory. “This basic level of compliance at a very attractive rate changes the perception of the country from being a tax haven to a tax-compliant jurisdiction. This new tax compliance is helping the country attract more international businesses.”

3. Visionary leadership

Rajesh Somani, Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in UAE (ICAI), attributed the UAE's investment appeal to its visionary leadership. "The main reason the UAE is an investment hub is because of the leadership of the country and their vision," Somani said. He pointed out that long-term visas and opportunities for entrepreneurs are key enablers, making the UAE the best in the world for business.

4. Location and infrastructure

The UAE has significantly bolstered its infrastructure to support burgeoning industries. State-of-the-art facilities, modern transportation networks, and advanced telecommunications infrastructure are the key components of this expansion. Situated at the heart of global trade routes, the UAE offers unparalleled access to markets across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Its modern transport networks, including state-of-the-art airports and seaports, facilitate seamless movement of goods and people.

5. Free zone advantage

Specialised free zones play an indispensable role in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE. With their cost-effective business incorporation packages along with various incentives, infrastructural and mentoring support, free zones help entrepreneurs, SMEs, as well as multinational companies on their journey to scale.

“Free zones provide businesses with convenient, accessible, and seamless solutions for launching and expanding their operations,” said Mohammed Bin Humaidan, Director of Meydan Free Zone.

Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Senior Visual Journalist

6. Start-up focus

The UAE is among the top start-up and SME ecosystems in the world, offering a thriving framework to nurture and develop early stage enterprises. The promotion of entrepreneurship is a priority in the UAE’s Fifty Economic Plan, with the nation aiming to host at least 10 unicorns— start-ups valued at more than $1 billion — by 2031. “Eighty per cent of companies operating at RAKEZ are SMEs. Our focus is on attracting SMEs from across the world to the MENA region by offering easy, cost-effective market entry packages,” said John Cunliffe, Strategic Business Development Director at RAKEZ.

Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Senior Visual Journalist

7. Zero bureaucracy

Leveraging technology across all operational facets, the UAE prioritises maximising efficiency and minimising administrative complexities, aiming for streamlined governmental processes and agile operations. Embracing the UAE's zero-bureaucracy approach, the Free Zones Authority of Ajman has eliminated unnecessary red tape involved in business establishment and operations. Meydan Free Zone, echoed similar sentiments, highlighting their digital platform that allows investors to remotely set up businesses without physical presence requirements.

8. Opportunities abound

Investing in the UAE isn't just a trend — it's a goldmine of opportunities, says Neha Thomas, Head of Marketing at Creative Zone. Thomas emphasized the UAE's unparalleled growth trajectory and business-friendly environment. The continuous economic expansion over the past five years solidifies the UAE's appeal, making it an ideal destination for launching and scaling businesses in a dynamic and supportive ecosystem.

Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Senior Visual Journalist

9. Streamlined legal processes

Charbel Fadel, Partner at Galadari Advocates & Legal Consultants, noted the UAE's streamlined online processes and unique dual jurisdiction system, which offers both common and civil law options, as significant advantages. "Recent legislative advancements have elevated the UAE's global standing, making it highly attractive to investors and businesses," Fadel added.

10. Hotspot for business acquisition

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. “Consistent growth, simplified regulations, and substantial financial benefits make the UAE a prime hotspot for business acquisitions. A significant change in regulations has made it easier for foreign investors to buy businesses in the UAE without needing a local partner. “Now is a great time to sell, as it is a seller's market with high demand," he said.