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An Essential Guide for Starting A Dubai Import & Export Company

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With very low corporate income tax (CIT) and free trade agreements (FTA) with numerous countries and trade groups like India and the European Union, Dubai is well-known for its investment opportunities. Its biggest business attraction to date is the import export industry, where the strategic positioning of the nation creates a natural overpass to the leading import and export continents like Africa and Europe. The UAE economy is heavily reliant on international trade, more particularly oil and gas exports, which make up 30% of the UAE’s GDP. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to get your import export business started in Dubai, this essential guide is for you.

Top 5 Import Opportunities in Dubai

1. Oils and Mineral Fuels Import Export

The current global daily demand for oil is sitting at 90 million barrels a day. The International Energy Agency predicts the global daily demand to go all the way up to 121 million barrels a day by the end of 2030. The UAE has taken advantage of this demand by importing and exporting oil at scale.

2. Cosmetics Import Export

The growth in popularity in beauty and makeup worldwide is driving the cosmetics industry up the global economic market. With toiletries as the foundation of commerce, the cosmetics market is predicted to cross $3bn by 2025 in the UAE alone. The increase in global popularity increased the import export demand. The UAE exported close to $4 billion worth of cosmetics in 2020 and imported $3 billion worth of cosmetics in the same year. 

3. Electrical Machinery

The electrical machinery import industry in Dubai was estimated at 33 billion in value in 2020, showing potential in leading the pack of investment opportunities in Dubai. The low import duty makes the electrical machinery in Dubai cheaper than in other parts of the world, making the import profitable through demand. 

4. Industrial Machinery

In 2020, the UAE imported $28 billion worth of industrial machinery, solidifying its import into Dubai as a profitable business opportunity. Industrial machinery also has low import duty, in turn, also making it relatively cheaper in Dubai.

5. Motor Vehicles and Parts 

The majority of the cars and lightweight vehicles in Dubai have been imported. The production of vehicles in the UAE is comparatively small in comparison to the imports. This is mainly due to new vehicles being cheaper in the U.S, Japan and Europe, which are Dubai’s main suppliers. This creates a very competitive and lucrative market for the motor vehicles and parts import industry in Dubai. 

Top 4 Export Opportunities in Dubai

1. Precious Stones and Metals 

Precious stones and metals are the fastest-growing export products in Dubai over the five year period of 2015 to 2020. Dubai’s gold and diamond trade was valued at (United Arab Emirates Dirham) Dhs67.1 billion between March and June in 2020 and maintained its numbers into 2021.

There are 3 locations in Dubai that are gold and diamond trade-friendly as the precious stones and metals trade in the country is operated within particular dynamics. 

    1. DMCC - Gold, diamond and precious metals are a dominant business in this zone.
    2. Gold and Diamond Park - A leading hub for the gold and diamond trade in Dubai.
    3. Dubai Mainland - A big tourist attraction as you can directly sell your precious stones to the public.

2. Aluminium 

Multiple automotive and transportation components are made out of aluminium, mainly because of the metal’s lightness and durability, which helps in reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The UAE was reported to export $8 million worth of aluminium in 2020 and the Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), one of the world’s largest aluminium producers, is one of the main suppliers for weighty countries like Japan, South Korea and the United States.

3. Ships and Boats

Dubai accounts for the largest share of companies in the manufacturing of ships and boats globally. The ships and boat manufacturing industry is one of the leading economic sectors in the UAE as the sea vessels are not only exported but also provide the means of transport in the trade, confirming demand. 

4. Iron and Steel Articles 

UAE’s non-oil trade hit $517 billion in 2021 with iron and steel articles being a large contributor. As one of the largest manufacturers of steel in the world, Dubai has the capacity to supply iron and steel to countries like Japan and the United Kingdom. Dubai exported$300 million worth of iron and steel in 2020 to the United Kingdom alone.


7-Steps to Start an Import Export Business in Dubai

Here's a condensed step-by-step guide to setting up your import-export business:

1. Define Your Business Activity 

Within Dubai's broad economic landscape, you can select from over 2,100 business activities. If you plan to establish your company in the DMCC, remember that holding a trade license for your import-export business is a prerequisite.

2. Choose DMCC

DMCC stands out as a prime location for your import-export venture, known globally for its prominence in commodity trading. Crowned #1 Free Zone for 9 consecutive years, DMCC offers strategic advantages to boost your business.

3. Name Your Company

UAE's naming conventions demand careful selection of your company name. To navigate this process efficiently, consider engaging professional guidance.

4. Secure Initial Approval

Before starting your venture, ensure you have received the initial approval. This process requires submitting various documents, which our expert team can assist with.

5. Establish a Corporate Bank Account

Once you have the initial approval, choose from the multitude of local and international banks in the UAE to open your corporate bank account.

6. Find Your Office Location

A physical office is mandatory in Dubai. DMCC provides a variety of well-equipped office spaces to accommodate businesses of all sizes.

7. Acquire Final Approval

After preparing your documents and securing an office location, apply for final approval. Once you've paid for your license, your import-export business is set to launch in DMCC. 

Starting Your Import Export Business in Dubai with DMCC

Dubai is one of the easiest and most profitable places to start an import-export business. With DMCC, setting up your international trade company in Dubai is made seamless with expert advice and a support system to help you achieve your business goals. 

Download our Dubai Free-Zone Business Setup Guide to learn more about setting up your import-export business in Dubai. 

Setting Up A Business in Dubai 2023

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