The events industry is an integral contributor to the Dubai economy. The Dubai World Trade Centre alone is reported to have hosted events worth AED13.1 billion, accounting for 3.3% of the GDP in 2018. More recently, Ernst & Young projected that the Dubai 2020 expo will have injected $33.4 billion into the economy by 2031.
Whether they are simple affairs or complex extravaganzas, events stimulate activity in many related sectors, such as food and beverages, tourism and hospitality, as well as transportation and infrastructure. The government thus, looks favourably upon companies setting up in Dubai’s events sector.
Below is a breakdown of the major steps involved in starting an events management company in Dubai:
Deciding where to set up
While a free zone location offers tax concessions, full repatriation of profits and a streamlined, easy-to-follow business registration process, a mainland business in Dubai has wider access to clients in and out of the UAE, and offers more options to diversify in the future. With these considerations in mind, an entrepreneur should determine which location would suit his or her business goals before starting a company in Dubai.
Submit your desired trade name
Before you can apply for a business license, you have to obtain approval for the name of your event management company. For companies in the Dubai mainland, the approval will be issued by the Department of Economic Development, while the relevant regulatory authority will look after the process in a free zone. Each body has its own set of regulations concerning trade names, so it is worth the effort to familiarise yourself with them before submitting your proposal.
Some common regulations (link to Arabic business name blog) include prohibitions against using the names of countries or governments, the names of political or religious organisations and family, tribe and individual names (though exceptions apply). In free zones, trade name rules can get more specific. For example, in Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, special approvals have to be sought for the use of certain words, including ‘Capital’, ‘Commodities’, ‘International’, ‘Middle East’, among others.
Apply for a trade license to open an event management company.
This business license will entitle your company to carry out activities ranging from hospitality management to event promotion. However, in the license application, you will have to specify the activities your company will be engaged in. This is an important step that should be completed after carefully drafting a business plan. An events management company set up in Dubai is not permitted to carry out activities that are not explicitly stated in its license, so make sure that there are no accidental omissions. Otherwise, the license will have to be amended, which will cost you both time and money.
The business licensing process is handled by the Department of Economic Development for event management companies opening in the mainland, while those in Dubai’s free zones apply to their respective authorities. Owners have to submit their passport copies and coloured photographs, along with a completed application form.