Kiklabb Workspaces
KiIKLABB operated workspaces... Takeup rates for its licenses have shot up since September, with one-off promotions playing a part. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: What can Dh15,000 and over get you in Dubai right now? For a brand new business, it would mean a license to operate… and access to workspace on the QE2. (However, this does not cover additional visa issues.)

At a time when free zones in Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE are turning hyper-competitive on licensing fees and cost of operations, Dubai Government owned KIKLABB is making it as accessible as possible for anyone wanting to give a try.

The entity, which also leases space on board the Queen Elizabeth 2 moored at Port Rashid, was launched in September last year and formally launched operations in February, just before the pandemic broke out. Since then it has become one of the go-to places for those wanting a career switch – or even full-scale businesses that want to keep costs down.

KIKLABB is owned by Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corp., which also owns Jebel Ali Free Zone and Maritime City. Free zones in Dubai were the first to come up with license fee cuts and deferred payments after the pandemic hit. Some of these programmes are still in place.

“Someone seeking a change of job, whether a personal decision or forced, and wanting to launch a business needn’t worry about their launch costs,” said Tasawar Ulhaq, CEO. “”Cheap” is a word I seldom use - but I can say that KIKLABB now offers the most competitive rates to launch a business in Dubai.

“Anyone signing up with us don’t have to spend their time at Starbucks or anywhere else to get their business off the ground. Everything can be done through us – and even the coffee, tea and water come free. And good coffee at that.

“Since we have opened for licensing, we have significantly reduced the market average in Dubai.”

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Israel factor

Free zones here are upping their game now that the possibility of droves of Israeli companies could be venturing into this market in the month ahead. Plus, these zones will also have to compete with the ‘mainland’, now that the UAE has rolled back the need for an Emirati partner in multiple sectors.

Recently, one Dubai free zone came up with an offer where an overseas company could have their licenses issued within five working days and without any upfront fees.

KIKLABB too had a one-off offer running in September, where the entry fees was brought down to just over Dh12,000 for startups.

Tasawar Ulhaq
Tasawar Ulhaq of KIKLABB says the free zone enterprise has never lost sight of going for businesses that are already established. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Not just for first-timers

The focus isn’t only on startups and early-stage companies. There are three variations of licenses being issued – those with a workforce of 1-5, another for those of 6-10 members, and then 10 and over. “We need those 50-man companies as much as 5-member startups,” the CEO said. “Yes, the clear majority of those who have taken up licensing are 1-5 member companies.

Seeding anew
Dubai's KIKLABB has launched a 12-week internship programme, which introduces young entrepreneurs to different disciplines such as accounting, customer service, marketing and business ethics. After the curriculum is complete, candidates can then spend the last month of the internship at a department that best suits their skills.
Candidates who are selected for the internship can benefit from a full-time job opportunity with KIKLABB or a two-year KIKLABB entrepreneur membership to develop their own businesses for a monthly fee of Dh999. The membership includes a trade license, access to the community and workspace, and connectivity with the entity's network.
Tasawar Ulhaq, CEO of KIKLABB, said: “With the SEEDLABB internship programme, we’ve taken this role a step further by providing an exciting opportunity for young talent to learn the skills to start a business or begin a career."

Space outside of QE2

The entity has started to think outside of the QE2. “Our parent company has the largest amount of real estate in Dubai that can combine as a free zone area,” said Ulhaq. “We are exploring whether the time has come to grow further and have identified two possible locations. We have the clients who are willing to come with us wherever that might be.”

Free zones are going all out
* DMCC has lowered registration fees by 50 per cent and is also offering a flexi-desk at Dh888, which is eligible for one visa;
* SHAMS (Sharjah Media City) has lowered license fees by 30 per cent;
* KIZAD in Abu Dhabi lowered these fees by 15 per cent, while DAFZA (Dubai Airport Free Zone) waived license and registration fees for first year of operations.

CREDIT: Jitendra Consulting Group.