Essam al Tamimi is founder and senior partner of Al Tamimi & Company, one of the largest law firms in the Middle East. He talks about what entrepreneurs should consider as they launch a new business, a topic he covers in his new book, Setting Up in Abu Dhabi.
What's the very first step aspiring business owners should take before creating a new company?
In my opinion, it's very important to have a very good feasibility study. Certain times I advise clients to set up on your own, because you don't need a partner. There are other times when having a partner is going to basically bridge so many challenges and make your ride much smoother. I think a feasibility study will determine whether you should set up on your own, go on JV (joint venture) or franchise.
Has it become easier or harder to set up a business since the financial crash hit the Emirates?
It has actually got easier. With the financial crisis, the UAE has looked around and found ways in which we have to turn things around in terms of setting up, procedure, making things easier for people. [The country is] trying to basically open opportunities in certain sectors, make the process faster and less expensive, and many businesses have actually found their way here.
Yet what remains the biggest hurdle new business owners face when starting a firm?
The largest challenge, I think, for businesses is to find the right people. It's very important to attract and bring in the right human talent. Some businesses grab it quick and fast. Others, basically, struggle. I think you'll find most of the businesses that are successful have the proper management and right people to lead.
What else might a new business lack when it comes to its employees?
I think the biggest issue that people don't recognise sometimes in setting up businesses in this region is the importance of local knowledge. It helps you to manoeuvre much easier and grow much faster. The biggest wealth, in my opinion, is to have western talent blended with Arab talent under one roof. I think the end result will be very successful.
How different is it to launch a company in Abu Dhabi versus Dubai?
Almost identical in terms of setting up because [of] the federal Government's involvement in the commercial sector. In the past, it used to be much easier to set up things within the economic development departments in Dubai, rather than Abu Dhabi.
I think because of the exchange of information and training between the economic development departments all over the UAE, and the efficiency of the ministry of trade and commerce, the process is almost identical in most of the UAE.
* Neil Parmar