The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) is a government body that issues licenses for corporate individuals or entities with the intention of starting a business in Dubai mainland.

The Dubai DED develop economic plans and strategies, identify and aid strategic sectors, and offer services to domestic and international firms and investors.

The DED’s vision is to ease and quicken the process of starting a business in Dubai and to help budding entrepreneurs launch and expand their operations without the hassle of lengthy processes and administration.

The two primary jurisdictions to set up a business in Dubai are Dubai mainland and over 20 economic free zones in Dubai. If chosen to conduct business in Dubai mainland, it is required to register with the DED, who will issue a Dubai business license.


According to the Dubai DED, there are eight steps to start a business in Dubai:

  1. Decide on a business activity
    There are over 2,000 business activities​ to choose from in Dubai; they fall into various groups and classes including professional, commercial, industrial and tourism activities.


  1. Legal Form
    A legal form is a portrayal of the nature of the business being set up. The type of business and its activities, the nationality and number of owners, are to be considered before selecting a legal form.


  1. Trade Name
    The general trade name guidelines have to be followed when choosing a name for the business or establishment. The name can be applied online or through the authorized service centres​.


  1. Initial Approval Certificate​​​
    It is mandatory to apply for an Initial Approval Certificate, as it is a document stating that the Dubai DED has no objection in starting a business in Dubai.


  1. MOA and LSA agreement (if necessary)
    Based on the company’s legal form, the establishment partners may require to draft and sign a Memorandum of Association (MOA). In certain cases, a Local Service Agent (LSA) is needed to sign with a UAE national (Emirati), who will represent the firm with regards to licensing and conformity.


  1. Business Location
    Every organisation in Dubai must have a physical address, such as an office. A tenancy contract has to be signed with the landlord and the contract registered with Ejari (a registration system introduced by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency) for attestation.


  1. Licensing Approvals
    There are certain trade activities that require distinct licensing approvals by different departments of the government. For instance, To establish a medical centre, it is requried to also acquire licensing approvals from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).


  1. Business License Collection
    Once all the previous steps are completed, all required documents have to be submitted via the DED eServices website or the service centers​ located in Dubai.


The business can now commence its operations.