How to Set up a Marketing Business in the UAE

April 22, 2024

In today’s digital age, where online platforms heavily influence consumer behaviour, diving into marketing offers a promising path to success. Especially in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the marketing landscape is evolving rapidly, presenting abundant opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The UAE’s digital advertising market stands as evidence of this industry’s vitality. With projected ad spending expected to reach a staggering $1.134 billion in 2024, businesses are investing heavily in promotional activities to reach their target audience. Among the various marketing channels, banner advertising leads the way with a market volume of $429.8 million. These figures highlight the significance of digital marketing in the UAE and the immense potential it holds for businesses of all sizes.

Here are the business activities that you can select under your license when establishing your Marketing business:

7310.11 – Digital Marketing

Digital marketing refers to the use of digital channels, such as the internet, social media, mobile applications, search engines, email, and other digital platforms, to promote products, services, or brands. It encompasses a wide range of activities aimed at reaching and engaging target audiences online, driving traffic, generating leads, and ultimately, converting leads into customers. Digital marketing leverages various strategies and tactics to achieve these objectives, including content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and more.

Creation and realisation of advertising campaigns: This involves creating and placing advertisements across various digital platforms, including websites, social media channels, search engines, and mobile applications. It includes designing ad creatives, developing ad copy, and strategically placing ads to reach the target audience effectively.

Conducting marketing campaigns and other advertising services aimed at attracting and retaining customers: In digital marketing, this involves promoting products or services online, utilising strategies such as content marketing, social media promotion, email marketing, and search engine marketing. It also includes activities like point-of-sale marketing (e.g., online promotions during checkout), direct mail advertising (e.g., email newsletters), and marketing consulting to devise effective digital marketing strategies.

This class excludes publishing of advertising material (e.g., publishing ads in magazines), production of commercial messages for traditional media (e.g., creating TV commercials), public relations activities, market research, graphic design activities, advertising photography, and organising conventions and trade shows. 

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.11 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.11 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.14 – Online Marketing Services

Online marketing services refer to a range of activities and strategies aimed at promoting products, services, or brands using digital channels specifically. These services leverage the internet and various online platforms to reach target audiences, engage with potential customers, drive traffic, and ultimately, achieve marketing objectives. Online marketing encompasses a wide array of tactics, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, and more.

Creation and realisation of advertising campaigns: This involves creating and deploying digital advertising campaigns across internet-based platforms. It includes activities such as designing and placing ads on websites, social media channels, search engines, mobile applications, and other online media. It also encompasses strategic planning, targeting, and optimization of digital ads to maximise their effectiveness in reaching the intended audience.

Conducting marketing campaigns and other advertising services aimed at attracting and retaining customers: This includes promoting products or services through online channels, implementing point-of-sale marketing tactics on e-commerce platforms, executing direct mail advertising campaigns via email, and providing marketing consulting to develop effective online marketing strategies tailored to clients’ needs and objectives.

This class excludes publishing advertising material (e.g., publishing ads in print publications), producing commercial messages for traditional media (e.g., creating TV commercials), public relations activities, market research, graphic design activities, advertising photography, and organising conventions and trade shows. 

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.14 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.14 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.02 – Conducting marketing campaigns and other advertising services aimed at attracting and retaining customers:  • Promotion of products  • Point-of-sale marketing  • Direct mail advertising  • Marketing consulting

This encompasses a variety of strategies and activities designed to engage with potential customers, increase brand awareness, and encourage customer loyalty. 

  • Promotion of products: This involves promoting products or services through various marketing channels to increase their visibility and desirability among potential customers. 
  • Point-of-sale marketing: Point-of-sale (POS) marketing refers to promotional activities conducted at the location where a purchase is made. This could include tactics such as displays, signage, promotions, and upselling techniques aimed at influencing purchasing decisions and encouraging additional sales at the point of purchase.
  • Direct mail advertising: Direct mail advertising involves sending promotional materials directly to potential customers via postal mail or electronic mail. This could include physical mailers, catalogues, brochures, or digital newsletters and promotional emails. 
  • Marketing consulting: Marketing consulting entails providing expert advice, guidance, and strategic recommendations to businesses seeking to improve their marketing efforts. Consultants analyse market trends, assess competitors, identify target audiences, and develop tailored marketing strategies to help businesses achieve their marketing goals and maximise return on investment.

This class includes providing a comprehensive range of advertising services, including advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying, to support marketing campaigns aimed at attracting and retaining customers. Within this class, activities such as creating and placing advertisements across various media channels, including newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, and the internet, are included. It also encompasses outdoor advertising, media representation, aerial advertising, distribution or delivery of advertising material or samples, provision of advertising space on billboards, and creation of stands and display structures.

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, producing commercial messages for traditional media, public relations activities, market research, graphic design activities, advertising photography, convention and trade show organisation, and mailing activities, as these fall outside the scope of conducting marketing campaigns specifically aimed at attracting and retaining customers.

Third-party Approval: Business activity 7310.02 requires third-party approval from the Ministry of Culture and Youth  – Media Regulatory Office (MRO), post-issuance of the license. 

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.02 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.02 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.18 – Online advertising

Online advertising refers to the practice of promoting products, services, or brands using internet-based platforms and digital channels. It involves leveraging various online mediums, such as websites, search engines, social media platforms, mobile applications, email, and online display ads, to reach and engage with target audiences. 

This class includes providing a comprehensive range of advertising services tailored to online platforms and digital channels. It encompasses advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying specifically geared towards online advertising initiatives. Within this class, activities related to creating and realising advertising campaigns extend to online mediums such as the Internet. It also includes online advertising across various formats, such as banner ads, search engine ads, social media ads, and other digital display ads. Additionally, activities related to media representation, aerial advertising, distribution or delivery of online advertising material or samples, and provision of online advertising space are covered within this class.

While online advertising falls under the broader umbrella of conducting marketing campaigns and advertising services aimed at attracting and retaining customers, it is specifically focused on leveraging online platforms and digital channels to promote products, engage with customers, and drive sales.

Exclusions from this class include activities such as publishing advertising material, producing commercial messages for traditional media (e.g., radio, television, film), public relations activities, market research, graphic design activities, advertising photography, convention and trade show organisation, and mailing activities. 

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.18 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.18 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.17 – Sales promotion

Sales promotion refers to a set of marketing activities and techniques designed to stimulate immediate sales of a product or service. Unlike advertising, which aims to build brand awareness and long-term customer loyalty, sales promotion tactics are focused on encouraging customers to make a purchase in the short term. Sales promotion strategies often involve offering discounts, coupons, free samples, contests, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, and other incentives to motivate consumers to buy.

This class provides a wide range of advertising services tailored to sales promotion activities, including advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying. It involves creating and placing advertisements across various media channels to promote sales promotion offers and incentives effectively. Additionally, it covers outdoor advertising such as billboards, panels, bulletins, and showroom design aimed at attracting customers and driving sales. Media representation, aerial advertising, distribution of sales promotion material, provision of advertising space on billboards, and creation of stands for sales promotion events are included. 

Exclusions from this class are activities like publishing advertising material, producing commercial messages for traditional media, public relations, market research, graphic design, convention and trade show organisation, and mailing activities.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.17 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.17 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.01 – Creation and realisation of advertising campaigns

Creation and realisation of advertising campaigns refers to the process of conceptualising, planning, designing, and executing advertising initiatives with the aim of achieving specific marketing objectives. It involves developing a strategic approach to communicate messages effectively to the target audience through various advertising channels. This process typically includes identifying the target audience, crafting compelling messages, selecting appropriate advertising mediums, creating advertising materials, and monitoring the campaign’s performance to optimise results.

This class provides a comprehensive range of advertising services for creating and executing advertising campaigns. It includes advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying across various platforms. Activities extend to multiple mediums like newspapers, radio, television, internet, and others, focusing on effective design and placement to reach target audiences and achieve marketing goals. Outdoor advertising materials such as billboards, panels, and frames are also covered, along with media representation, aerial advertising, and distribution of advertising materials. 

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, traditional media production, public relations, market research, graphic design, convention organisation, and mailing activities. These exclusions are distinct from the advertising campaign services provided within this class.

Third-party Approval: Business activity 7310.01 requires third-party approval from the Ministry of Culture and Youth  – Media Regulatory Office (MRO), post-issuance of the license. 

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.01 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.01 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.12 – Public relations consultancy

Public relations consultancy refers to the professional service provided by agencies or individuals to manage and enhance the reputation and image of organisations or individuals. Public relations (PR) consultants work to build positive relationships between their clients and the public, media, stakeholders, and other relevant audiences. They develop strategic communication plans, advise on messaging and positioning, handle crisis communication, manage media relations, and execute campaigns to promote a favourable public perception.

This class provides advertising services tailored to public relations consultancy, focusing on managing and enhancing clients’ reputation and image through strategic communication. It includes advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying. Activities extend to creating and placing advertising across various media channels to support PR campaigns effectively. Public relations initiatives such as media representation, distribution of PR material, provision of advertising space, and creation of display structures for PR events are also covered. Public relations consultancy aims to build positive relationships and foster goodwill between clients and stakeholders through strategic communication efforts. 

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, traditional media production, market research, graphic design, convention organisation, and mailing activities, which are distinct from public relations consultancy services.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.12 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.12 is exempt from this requirement.

Note: If you obtain a business license from SPC Free Zone, you can acquire UAE residency in just 5 working days. This streamlined process provides an efficient pathway for entrepreneurs seeking to establish their presence in the UAE swiftly.

7310.15 – Direct marketing

Direct marketing refers to a promotional strategy where businesses communicate directly with individual consumers or target audiences to promote their products or services. This form of marketing aims to establish a personalised connection with potential customers, often bypassing traditional advertising channels. Direct marketing techniques include direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing, text messaging, social media marketing, and targeted online advertising. 

This class provides a wide range of advertising services tailored to direct marketing initiatives, aiming to communicate directly with individual consumers or target audiences to promote products or services. It includes advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying. Activities extend to creating and implementing advertising campaigns across various media channels to support direct marketing objectives effectively. Direct marketing activities involve distributing or delivering advertising material/samples directly to consumers, providing targeted advertising space, and creating display structures for direct marketing events to establish personalised connections and generate immediate responses. Direct marketing focuses on communicating directly with consumers to promote products/services and generate immediate responses. 

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, traditional media production, public relations, market research, graphic design, convention organisation, and mailing activities, which are distinct from direct marketing services.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.15 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.15 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.20 – Digital media management

Digital media management refers to the strategic planning, execution, and optimization of an organisation’s online presence across various digital platforms. This includes managing social media accounts, websites, blogs, and other digital channels to enhance brand visibility, engage with target audiences, and achieve marketing objectives. Digital media managers oversee content creation, posting schedules, audience engagement, community management, analytics tracking, and performance measurement to ensure effective digital marketing efforts.

This class provides advertising services tailored to digital media management, focusing on optimising an organisation’s online presence across digital platforms. It includes advice, creative services, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying. Activities extend to creating and implementing advertising campaigns across various digital channels such as the internet, social media platforms, websites, and blogs to support digital marketing objectives effectively. Digital media management involves content creation, posting schedules, audience engagement, community management, analytics tracking, and performance measurement to enhance brand visibility and engage with target audiences. While falling under the broader umbrella of conducting marketing campaigns, digital media management specifically focuses on managing online presence to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, traditional media production, public relations, market research, graphic design, convention organisation, and mailing activities, which are distinct from digital media management services.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.20 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.20 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.13 – Publications of brochures & leaflets

Publications of brochures & leaflets refers to the creation, design, and production of printed marketing materials in the form of brochures and leaflets. These materials typically contain information about a company, its products or services, special offers, promotions, or other relevant details intended to attract the attention of potential customers or clients. Brochures are usually folded pieces of paper containing multiple pages, while leaflets are single-page printed materials. They are commonly distributed at events, in-store, through direct mail, or handed out in high-traffic areas to reach a targeted audience and promote a business or its offerings.

This class offers advertising services tailored to the creation and production of brochures and leaflets, including advice, creative services, production, and media planning. Activities extend to designing and printing advertising materials for distribution in newspapers, periodicals, and other media channels, as well as outdoor advertising such as billboards. It also covers the distribution or delivery of advertising material specifically related to brochures and leaflets, including direct distribution, mailing as part of direct mail campaigns, or handouts at events or high-traffic areas. While falling under the broader umbrella of marketing campaigns, this service focuses on using printed materials to promote products, services, or brands and engage potential customers.

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, traditional media production, public relations, market research, graphic design, convention organisation, and mailing activities, which are distinct from the production and distribution of brochures and leaflets.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.13 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.13 is exempt from this requirement.

7310.19 – Publicity

Publicity refers to the strategic dissemination of information, news, or messages about a company, organisation, product, service, or individual with the aim of generating public interest, awareness, or attention. Unlike advertising, which typically involves paid placements and controlled messaging, publicity often involves garnering media coverage through earned channels such as news articles, press releases, interviews, and other forms of editorial content. Publicity seeks to create a positive perception, build credibility, and influence public opinion by leveraging media outlets and other influential channels to reach a broader audience.

This class offers advertising services tailored to publicity efforts, including advice, creative services, production, and media planning. Activities extend to creating and placing advertising across various media channels to support publicity objectives effectively. Publicity activities include securing media coverage through press releases, pitching stories, arranging interviews, and managing media relations to generate positive publicity. This service focuses on generating public interest, awareness, or attention through earned media channels to enhance brand visibility and reputation.

Exclusions from this class include publishing advertising material, traditional media production, public relations, market research, graphic design, convention organisation, and mailing activities, which are distinct from publicity efforts.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7310.19 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7310.19 is exempt from this requirement.

7020.01 – Marketing, public relations & communication consultancy

This refers to a professional service provided by agencies or individuals to assist businesses and organisations in developing and implementing effective strategies related to marketing, public relations, and communication. Consultants in this field offer advice, guidance, and operational assistance to help clients achieve their objectives in areas such as strategic planning, marketing campaigns, public relations initiatives, and communication strategies. They may provide expertise in identifying target markets, developing marketing plans, managing brand reputation, crafting communication messages, and engaging with various stakeholders.

This class encompasses consultancy services covering marketing, public relations, and communication strategies, offering advice and operational assistance to businesses and organisations. Consultants provide guidance on strategic planning, marketing objectives, public relations activities, and communication strategies to help clients achieve their business goals. Activities may include advising on strategic and organisational planning, financial decision-making, marketing strategies, human resource policies, and production scheduling. Additionally, consultancy services cover public relations, communication lobbying activities, and advice on accounting methods, cost accounting programs, budgetary control procedures, and management information systems to enhance organisational efficiency.

Exclusions from this class include designing accounting software, legal advice, accounting, bookkeeping, auditing, market research, public opinion polling, executive placement services, and educational consulting activities. These exclusions are distinct from the consultancy services related to marketing, public relations, and communication covered within this class.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7020.01 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7020.01 is exempt from this requirement.

Note: Whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise, SPC Free Zone’s flexible pay-as-you-go payment structure allows you to adjust resources and services according to your evolving needs, ensuring cost-effectiveness and agility in managing your business growth.

7020.16 – Public relations services

This refers to the professional activities undertaken by individuals or agencies to manage and enhance the reputation, image, and relationships of businesses, organisations, or individuals with their target audiences. Public relations (PR) services involve strategic communication efforts aimed at building positive relationships with various stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, media, government entities, and the public. PR professionals utilise various channels and tactics, such as media relations, press releases, events, social media, crisis management, and corporate communications, to shape public perception, promote goodwill, and maintain a positive public image for their clients.

This class encompasses consultancy services specifically related to public relations. Consultants offer advice and operational assistance to businesses and organisations on strategic planning, organisational communication, and reputation management. Activities within this class may include advising on strategic planning, crisis management, media relations, stakeholder engagement, and corporate social responsibility to help clients maintain positive relationships with their target audiences. Public relations services also involve communication lobbying activities aimed at influencing public opinion and government policies.

Exclusions from this class include designing accounting software, legal advice, accounting, bookkeeping, auditing, market research, executive placement services, and educational consulting activities, which are distinct from public relations services.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 7020.16 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 7020.16 is exempt from this requirement.

6202.12 – Concept & design consultancy

Concept & design consultancy refers to a specialised service provided by consultants or agencies to assist businesses and organisations in conceptualising, planning, and designing various products, systems, or solutions. Consultants in this field offer expertise in generating creative ideas, developing conceptual frameworks, and designing innovative solutions tailored to meet the specific needs and objectives of their clients. Concept & design consultancy spans across different industries and areas, including product design, architecture, engineering, software development, and user experience design.

This class involves planning and designing integrated computer systems, including hardware, software, and communication technologies. Consultants or firms offer expert guidance in conceptualising, planning, and designing systems tailored to clients’ needs. They may provide both hardware and software components or source them from third-party vendors. Services also include system installation, user training, and ongoing support. Additionally, this class covers on-site management and operation of clients’ computer systems and data processing facilities, along with related support services such as maintenance and troubleshooting.

Exclusions from this class include separate sale of computer hardware or software, separate installation of mainframe computers, and setting up personal computers. These exclusions are distinct from the comprehensive concept and design consultancy services provided for integrated computer systems.

Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity

Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 6202.12 is exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 6202.12 is exempt from this requirement.


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