Dubai is a dream destination for doing business - a strong currency, (almost) limitless budgets, unrestricted trade environment, and tax free earnings (for now). Yet this means it's a competitive, overcrowded marketplace so South African businesses looking to break into the Dubai market need to understand the nature of doing business in Dubai. It is incredibly different from doing business anywhere else in the world - Dubai is a place with its own specific labour laws, contractual rules, business marketing methods, and particular ways of doing business when it comes to dealing with the local people.
I launched 'Boguslavsky & Co', a digital strategy agency based in Dubai, over two years ago and wanted to share some of my own advice for businesses looking to enter the Dubai market. Whilst I work in the digital/tech space, primarily with consumer focused brands, the following can apply to almost any industry:
Make sure to tick off all the legal boxes - Dubai is not the place where you want to open yourself to any kind of legal issues. I strongly recommend Creative Zone for business setup and licensing, phenomenal service, and relatively hassle free company setup in the UAE.
In Dubai, more than anywhere else really, it's all about who you know. Connections matter. Relationships matter even more. Networking is vital. If you're new to Dubai and wanting to launch a business here, BNI Dubai should be your first step for quality business connections and referrals. There are also great informal networking events, including #TweetUpDxb
Traditional press is key for brand awareness, especially when it comes to launching a new business. Traditional press is still going strong in Dubai, whilst online media and publications are also on the rise - vital to invest in PR. Great start for gaining quality coverage would be The Media Network.
If you're looking for investment, the following resources/publications/companies will be invaluable to you: