How to set up a business in Dubai Design District
Experts estimate that by the year 2025, the UAE fashion market will reach nearly $6.5 billion USD. Since fashion makes up nearly 21 percent of all e-commerce transactions, companies have more flexibility when it comes to picking a location for their headquarters. This provides the opportunity for companies to set up shop or relocate to Dubai to enjoy many benefits such as special tax incentives.
What is the Dubai Design District?
In 2013, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the creation of the Dubai Design District (often abbreviated to simply “D3”) to boost foreign investment in the creative arts, specifically design and fashion. Located near the heart of Dubai, businesses that establish a presence in the free zone will enjoy access to the design hub of the city and over 10,000 creative industry professionals from around the world.
While the D3 free zone focuses on fashion and design at its core, there are many trade licence types available for companies who work in marketing, clothing, jewellery, interior design, e-commerce, art, beauty care, and event management. D3 is also a great place for freelancers who are associated with these types of businesses.
Like many of the other free zones, companies will enjoy the benefits of 100% foreign ownership, 0% tax rate (both corporate and personal), full repatriation of capital and profits, and access to state-of-the-art infrastructure. In addition to offices and warehouse space (between 5,000 and 11,000 square feet) for companies, the Dubai Design District is home to numerous shops, restaurants, recreational facilities, and the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DID).
One unique feature of D3 is the three In5 Design Centres that come fully equipped with labs and machinery that businesses can use for prototyping and designing products in wood, plastic, metal, textile, and 3D printing composite.
How to Set Up a Business in the Dubai Design District
Setting up a business in the Dubai Design District is relatively easy for most companies. The process to set up a freelance licence within the Dubai Design District is much faster and easier than the steps shown below. In many cases, all you need is to apply and pay the fees.
● Step 1: Select a Business Activity and Location – Before you get started, you need to select one of the approved business activities permitted in Dubai Design District. Unlike other free zones, companies in D3 have the option to select where they want to conduct business (free zone, mainland, or both). The mainland option permits companies to also conduct business in the local market.
● Step 2: Submit Application – Businesses will need to complete the online application and submit a business plan, and passports for all shareholders.
● Step 3: Secure Physical Space – Once the application is approved, businesses that operate within the Dubai Design District must secure a physical location within the free zone (freelancers may be exempt from this requirement). Both office and warehouse space are available depending on the needs of the business. It’s important to be mindful of the number of visas that you will need to secure for your business as D3 allows one per 80 square feet of physical space (a generous amount compared to other free zones).
● Step 4: Apply for Trade Licence – Companies will need to apply for the appropriate trade licence through the Dubai Design District. If companies also intend to operate in the mainland, they will need to secure a trade licence through the Department of Economic Development (DED). Multiple trade licences may be required depending on the products and services that are offered by the company.
● Step 5: Pay Applicable Fees – Businesses are required to pay a registration fee of 3,510 AED (about $950 USD). In addition, each trade licence will cost about 15,000 AED (about $4,100 USD).
Streamline the Setup of Your Creative Business in D3
Setting up a fashion and design business in Dubai has never been easier with the Dubai Design District. However, the process can get complicated for companies and individuals who are unfamiliar with business practices in the UAE or have complex business structures. Having an experienced business setup professional on your side can streamline the process and ensure that you don’t have any delays.
How can Global Link help?
Global Link has over 16 years’ experience working with local and global business, providing bespoke consultancy services for company incorporation in Dubai and the wider UAE.
If you need advice on establishing a business in Dubai Design District or for any other company incorporation, visa or PRO service, please get in touch with us on +971 4 553 9901 or email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist you.