Lorenzo Jooris, CEO, Creative Zone

What was an interesting fact that you have noticed with the region’s business landscape in 2023?

2023 highlighted the impact of working towards a shared goal of economic improvement. Estimated GDP growth was over 3 per cent last year, with non-oil activities contributing an impressive 71 per cent.

The biggest driver was the effort by each player of the ecosystem. Last year the government implemented national changes like expanding the Golden Visa’s eligibility scope and urging public-private partnerships to create social and economic value. These regulatory shifts trickle down, encouraging individuals and companies to make their own marks. Several public-private incubators or large-scale developments rose for example, while thousands of promising talents grew into impactful business leaders.

The word to describe it would be synergy. Actions from multiple players synergise into economic success.

What is your forecast for 2024?

Our GDP growth forecast this year is over 5 per cent, higher than the global projection of 2.8 per cent. Signs are pointing towards further diversification since we’ve built up strong foundations for sectors like hospitality, tourism, retail, AI and blockchain, technology, and finance, all the while solidifying our reliable oil industry.

We can expect more businesses, innovative solutions, and developments to arise across all industries. The approach of doing business will move towards building a more robust ecosystem through various communities and portals. We at Creative Zone have always built a sense of community between our clients, stakeholders, partners, and employees allowing them to thrive in unison, thereby creating a dynamic momentum that propels their own sectors and the entirety of our economic landscape at the same time.

Are there any expansion plans for Creative Zone in 2024, either geographically or in terms of service portfolio?

Over the last few years, Creative Zone has expanded globally setting up regional offices in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and India. We are aiming to increase our global footprint through strategic partnerships, international events and summits, and by creating strong digital presence. We already have a strong line-up of events lined up for 2024 covering countries like the UK, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Russia, India, China, and other EU regions.

Coming to our services, we believe in introducing new products and services in-line with our client demand. Creative Zone Premier was launched late 2023 to offer bespoke corporate structuring solutions like forming Trusts, Foundations, SPVs, Global Offshore Business Solutions, and even extending it to Citizenship by Investment programs. We hear our clients and give them what they need.

As a global voice for business set-up in the UAE and ME, how do you see the sector evolving in 2024? What will be the growth drivers?

I foresee dynamic shifts within the UAE and Middle East business set-up sector in 2024 in areas including digital transformation with AI and automation, new regulatory changes, global opportunities, prioritising sustainability, enhancing customer experiences, fostering strategic collaborations and partnerships, providing educational resources, offering flexible business models, and investing in talent.

Creative Zone is committed to leading these advancements, ensuring our clients get the best service while being positioned at the forefront of the evolving business landscape in the region.

Technology has been a core driver for change in the business set-up industry. How do you read its impact on the sector this year?

Technology will make businesses better. AI and advanced analytics will grant us access to more data and analyses, enabling improved, strategic guidance that’s tailor-fit for each client. Automation and cloud computing will continue to streamline processes and make paperwork run easier and faster. Digitalization will offer access to a larger range of clients, reaching entrepreneurs of any location, industry, or size. The effects of technology are large, and the sector will keep reaping its benefits this year.


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Creative Zone’s Start-up Circle ushers in an era of positive change for entrepreneurs and investors

The Startup Circle, a unique initiative pioneered by Creative Zone is expected to revolutionise and transform the UAE business landscape as we know it. Designed to support the nation’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the unique platform helps bring together all stakeholders in the country, from start-ups and entrepreneurs to investors, VC and PE funds, as well as Government entities involved in helping develop start-ups in the UAE.

Created through a collaboration between like-minded partners, The Startup Circle sees Creative Zone partnering with Wio Bank, Telr, InsuranceMarket.ae, Wayfinders, and 15 other influential corporate partners.

Founded on the principles of community, mentorship, and innovation, the Startup Circle will be seen as a cornerstone of support for those navigating the challenging yet exhilarating journey that start-ups witness. Through networking events, demo day pitch competitions, special offers and value provided by partners, cohort and workshop sessions, the programme facilitates meaningful connections between start-ups, creating an environment where knowledge transfer and collaboration thrive.

Thriving in a dynamic world

Lorenzo Jooris, Founder, Startup Circle believes the initiative to be more than just a platform, visualising it as a dynamic catalyst to help spark entrepreneurial passion in the UAE.

"Our vision is to create a space where ideas flourish, connections are made, and innovation knows no boundries. By bringing together seasoned mentors and ambitious start-ups, we aim to build a community that not only survives but thrives in the dynamic world of entrepreneurship. We are here to champion the spirit of innovation and guide startups toward building sustainable, impactful businesses,” says Jooris.

Open to all, the Startup Circle portal is designed to invite the start-up community to gain a competitive edge through various benefits tailored to accelerate their entrepreneurial journey. As a part of this community of trust, start-ups gain access to a network of potential investors who may be interested in funding innovative and promising ventures, and even possible new partners, with special pricing and support provided.

Startup Circle goes beyond conventional networking events. From pitch nights and demo days to panel discussions and workshops, the events organised curate diverse and insightful content to cater to the needs and interests of participants.

Partner with Startup Circle

Startup Circle seeks long-term partnerships with individuals and entities that embody significant experience, expertise and passion in their respective fields. The ideal partners for The Startup Circle are seasoned professionals, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders who have demonstrated a profound commitment to nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. These partners are distinguished by their track record of success and innovation, coupled with a genuine desire to contribute to the growth and development of emerging businesses.

The UAE has emerged as a thriving business hotspot for entrepreneurs and investors, offering business opportunities in the global market. Its strategic location, investor-friendly environment, and commitment to fostering technological advancements have made it an attractive destination for startups and seasoned investors alike. Within this vibrant landscape, The Startup Circle emerges as a much-needed platform, simplifying the entrepreneurial journey.

"Our journey has only just begun, and I am confident that the start-ups that emerge from the Start-up Circle community will be the trailblazers of tomorrow,” says Jooris.


The Creative Zone CZ One app helps businesses and entrepreneurs access all their business needs through a single uniform digital window - By Neha Thomas, Head of Marketing, Creative Zone

When you are an entrepreneur, you’re always going to be handling multiple things at once. The day-to-day is incredibly busy, so it’s easy to forget even the most important deadlines or miss out on some significant parts of running a business.

Neha Thomas, Head of Marketing, Creative Zone Image Credit:

This is a reality that Creative Zone has observed with many of their clients. “Entrepreneurship is a juggling act, and despite one’s best efforts, a ball could always slip through the cracks,” says Neha Thomas, the company’s Head of Marketing. “That prompted us to create the CZ One app, and put all of their business needs in a single place.

“Navigating entrepreneurship is akin to a delicate balancing act, where, despite meticulous efforts, certain aspects may mistakably become overlooked. This realisation inspired us to introduce the CZ One app — an integrated platform designed to centralise and streamline all essential business requirements for our clients.”

Just like the business set-up firm, CZ One is a one-stop-shop where Creative Zone clients have a full overview of their company’s status on their mobile phones. The platform allows them to track their ongoing document applications and renewals, and even sends out notifications when certain requirements are due to expire. CZ One also acts as a gateway to everything else Creative Zone, since users can look through their various support services and directly make requests within the app.

“Everything that entrepreneurs could possibly need is available within CZ One,” says Thomas. “Our primary goal is to travel with each client throughout their entire entrepreneurial journey, and this way we’ll always be in their pockets, only one tap away. We took the simplicity and convenience of a mobile application and equipped it with the essentials for managing day-to-day operations, achieving business success, and driving growth.”

CZ One will soon be released on both Apple Store and Google Play Store.


Why the new UAE corporate tax is necessary for economic growth

Historically, the UAE has been renowned as a complete tax haven. However, this year brought about a landmark tax reform with the introduction of a 9 per cent corporate tax.

Zeeshan Toor, General Manager Creative Zone Tax and Accounting Image Credit:

Businesses subject to the new CT will undoubtedly undergo a major administrative upheaval. Companies will need to adapt their accounting and reporting processes to ensure compliance while absorbing the costs to minimise the impact on profitability.

However, while some may bemoan the new tax regime, it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

What are the benefits?

To drive a sustainable economy, the UAE is working towards an oil-free future, focusing on innovation and technology. But to do this and remain competitive and credible as a leading global business hub, the country must also shrug off its tax haven status. Therefore, the introduction of VAT in 2018, followed by corporate tax in 2023, was not only inevitable but also necessary.

Some sceptics worry that these fiscal measures will discourage investors looking to maximise their profits to the full. However, the new tax model is actually helping the UAE separate the wheat from the chaff by attracting credible and legitimate businesses with a serious approach to corporate responsibility.

Rather than consider the downsides of another tax to pay, we should look at the positives of CT and the role it will play in the UAE’s economic growth.

Economic diversification

In a bid to reduce its reliance on oil, the UAE is pushing towards economic diversification. The transformation to a sustainable, knowledge-based economy is being driven by the We are the UAE 2031 plan.

This plan aims to double the country’s GDP from Dh1.47 trillion to Dh3 trillion by 2031, with a focus on non-oil exports, international trade and tourism.

Towards international tax compliance

Since 2018, the UAE has been involved in the OECD’s Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) to counter harmful tax practices and improve tax transparency.

As part of the framework, the OECD has proposed an international minimum CT rate to help create a fair and equal international tax standard. While the UAE’s 9 per cent CT rate falls short of the 15 per cent global tax rate proposed by OECD’s Pillar Two objectives, it shows the UAE’s willingness to align with OECD’s principles and international practices.

Zeeshan Toor, General Manager, Creative Zone Tax and Accounting says “Compliance with international tax best practices is a bold move in the right direction for the UAE. Historically regarded as an attractive tax haven, the country has been criticised for its lack of tax transparency, leaving it vulnerable to money laundering operations and those looking to evade tax.”

“By applying the new CT regime, the UAE is more aligned with the tax policies of other countries, while still offering one of the most competitive tax systems in the world," adds Toor.


All About our 2024 Business Setup Guide

Embarking on a business venture in the dynamic economic landscape of the UAE requires more than just ambition; it demands a deep understanding of the complex market dynamics, legal frameworks, and cultural nuances. To enable entrepreneurs to traverse this busy business hub, Creative Zone has compiled the 2024 Business Setup Guide to help company leaders through the processes of nurturing successful ventures.

The essence of the 2024 Business Setup Guide is its comprehensive and detail-oriented approach to the complex facets of establishing a business. It dives deep into the intricacies of legal frameworks, empowering entrepreneurs with the expertise to navigate business laws confidently and efficiently. It also introduces crucial strategies for wealth management and laying a sustainable financial foundation in a competitive market, considering the developments brought about by the implementation of a new corporate tax regime last year.

But what truly sets the Guide apart is its holistic, region-specific perspective. Going beyond facts and figures, the guide offers practical insights woven with cultural awareness – making it an invaluable companion for any entrepreneurial journey. This guide is a cornerstone of Creative Zone's journey to becoming the biggest business consultancy firm across the UAE. It's a reflection of the broader vision to be more than just a service provider, but a partner in the entrepreneurial process.

By equipping entrepreneurs with the 2024 Business Setup Guide, Creative Zone is taking a significant stride towards their vision. It is one of the many ways the company is redefining the UAE business landscape, making it more accessible, relevant, and impactful amidst the global sphere.

For more information on Creative Zone and its service portfolio call 800 LICENSE | Email setup@creativezone.ae | Visit creativezone.ae