x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fast-track licence for Dubai start-ups

Dubai's Department of Economic Development is to launch a new 120-day, "hassle free" trade license for business owners who want to start operations immediately.

More than 90 per cent of businesses fall into a low-risk or no-risk category,
More than 90 per cent of businesses fall into a low-risk or no-risk category, "and therefore a vast majority of businesses stand to benefit from the 120-days licence", according to the DED. Paulo Vecina / The National

Fledgling businesses in Dubai are to be offered a "hassle-free" trade licence valid for four months, allowing them to start operating immediately rather than waiting weeks or months for government approvals.

The licence is to be made available to eligible businesses by the end of this year through Dubai's Department of Economic Development (DED).

It would give owners 120 days to finish the usual licensing paperwork required to get started officially, although during this time they could also hire employees, test products and otherwise get their new ventures up and running.

"The 120-days licence is part of DED's efforts to enable businesses to make full use of the advantages of Dubai and improve the emirate's ranking in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank," said Mohammed Shael, the chief executive of the business registration and licensing division of the DED.

Globally, the UAE ranks 33rd when it comes to the ease of doing business overall.

But it holds the 42nd spot in a sub-ranking examining the ease of starting a venture, according to the World Bank.

Singapore was named the best, overall, for the ease of doing business, while New Zealand - where it takes just one day to start a business - offers the best environment for launching a new enterprise.

However, not all new businesses in Dubai will qualify for the DED's fast-track licence.

Restaurants, clinics and other business activities considered to be high-risk by the DED will still need to meet standards set by government authorities before obtaining the licence.

More than 90 per cent of businesses fall into a low-risk or no-risk category, "and therefore a vast majority of businesses stand to benefit from the 120-days licence", according to the DED.

Some say the new licence will help entrepreneurs get started faster - and generate revenue sooner.

"Honestly, once I registered the company, I was so eager to get started," said Dana Abdelhadi, who launched a public relations firm in Dubai nearly a year ago.

Ms Abdelhadi had anticipated the start-up process would take about 10 days, although it took her more than two months.

"I was waiting, and waiting, and wanted to get going," she said.

The DED did not specify how much, if anything, its new licence may cost business owners, which is a concern some may have if they also need to pay fees for the longer-term approvals process, said Jitendra Gianchandani, the chairman of Jitendra Consulting Group, a business advisory in Dubai.

Mr Gianchandani added that it was likely that other emirates would also have to follow Dubai with a similar licence for the UAE to benefit from a significant rise in the World Bank's ranking.

nparmar@thenational.ae

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