How To Set Up A Sporting Equipment Company In The UAE

May 31, 2024

As fitness becomes more popular in the UAE, the demand for high-quality fitness apparel, equipment, and sports accessories is rising as well. Currently, the UAE acts as a strong trading hub for international sports brands. However, there are also several manufacturers who focus on specific areas such as sportswear and fitness equipment. 

The retail scene for sports goods in the UAE is quite vibrant, with a mix of international brands, local chains, and independent stores. Popular names like Adidas, Nike, Puma, Under Armour, and Decathlon have a strong presence in the UAE. Along with these are established chains like Sun & Sand Sports and GO Sports, with multiple locations around the region. Online shopping has gained traction too, with ecommerce platforms at the forefront of the retail industry.

The UAE’s sports products market itself is projected for growth due to a rising interest in fitness and sports activities. There’s also a notable increase in outdoor activities, such as watersports, that are driving demand for specialized gear. It’s clear that the potential for domestic manufacturers here is strong. 

Of course, domestic manufacturers can choose their own method of retail – be it through independent stores or by strategically selling their sports products at established chains. 

For aspiring entrepreneurs who want to begin by establishing their sports goods manufacturing business in the UAE, here are the activities that SPC Free Zone recommends:

3230.01 – Manufacture of articles and equipment for sports, outdoor and indoor games, of any material: hard, soft and inflatable balls, rackets, bats and clubs, skis, bindings and poles, ski boots, sailboards and surfboards, requisites for sport fishing, including landing nets, requisites for hunting, mountain climbing etc., leather sports gloves and sports headgear, ice skates, roller skates etc, bows and crossbows, gymnasium, fitness center or athletic equipment

The range of sporting activities out there can be overwhelming for newcomers in the industry, so we’re here to help you break it down.

The types of sports can be broken down into various categories, but the simplest ways to categorize them are as indoor or outdoor sports and individual or team sports. Water sports can fall under all four categories, depending on the type of sport.

Individual sports are sports where athletes compete against each other or the clock, rather than against a team. They require a high level of skill, discipline, and physical fitness. Here are some examples of popular individual sports:

Individual (outdoor): 

  • Track and field 
  • Cycling
  • Tennis 
  • Golf 
  • Racing 
  • Mountain Climbing 
  • Archery 
  • Surfing 
  • Kayaking
  • Diving 
  • Skiing 

Individual (indoor):  

  • Martial arts 
  • Badminton 
  • Table tennis 

Individual (either indoor or outdoor) 

  • Gymnastics 
  • Swimming 
  • Skateboarding 

Team sports are those where athletes work together as a team to achieve a common goal. They require teamwork, communication, and cooperation. Here are some examples of popular team sports.

Team (outdoor)

  • Soccer 
  • Baseball 
  • American football 
  • Volleybal 
  • Cricket 
  • Rowing  
  • Sailing 

Team (indoor)

  • Basketball 
  • Hockey 

Keep in mind that these are just the highlights—there are many more sports, like lacrosse, for which players would require special equipment.

Each of these sports requires specific equipment, all of which needs to be high quality, durable, and of exact specifications. With this activity, all kinds of hard, soft and inflatable balls can be manufactured. For example, cricket needs hard leather balls while a basketball can be inflatable.

Rackets, bats, and clubs are widely popular as well, for sports such as cricket and baseball. Meanwhile, sports like skiing require skis, bindings, and poles, along with ski-boots. Skaters, on the other hand, purchase either ice skates or roller skates. For those heading into the waters, sail boards and surfboards are quite popular. Similarly, players who engage in competitive fishing require landing nets.

Those who engage in hunting and mountain climbing need specific sports goods as well, most of which can be manufactured under this activity. Many sports require leather sports gloves and sports headgear, as well. This can be a versatile item for a manufacturer to produce. Finally, most of the equipment required for a gymnasium, fitness center, or regular athletic equipment can be manufactured as well. 

It’s important to note, however, that a number of items cannot be manufactured under this activity. These include: 

  • Boats and boat sails
  • Sports apparel
  • Saddlery and harness 
  • Whips and riding crops
  • Sports footwear
  • Sporting weapons and ammunition 
  • Metal weights for weightlifting 
  • Automatic bowling alley equipment 
  • Sports vehicles other than toboggans and similar
  • Boats
  • Billiard tables
  • Ear and noise plugs
  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity 
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 3230.01 is exempt from this requirement
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 3230.01 is exempt from this requirement

1410.00 – Manufacture of wearing apparel, except fur apparel

If a sportswear manufacturer aces its apparel products, that can put them on the map. Each sport requires different apparel, depending on activity level, coverage, climate, protection, comfort, and specialized needs.

For example, high-performance apparel is designed for intense activities like running and basketball. These clothes prioritize moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester to keep you athletes dry and comfortable, with unrestricted movement. Medium-performance apparel, however, is ideal for the moderate exertion that comes with activities like hiking, yoga, and weight training.

In terms of coverage, some sports require t-shirts and tank tops, while some require longer leggings and long-sleeved shirts. In terms of climate, breathable fabrics are key in hot weather while insulating material is required for cold weather activities such as skiing. 

Sport-specific needs are where specialized sports manufacturers can flex their prowess. For example, swimsuits require chlorine-resistant fabrics of top-notch quality, while winter sports need ski pants and jackets that are waterproof, insulated, and provide flexibility. 

Under this activity, manufacturers can use material of almost any kind to be coated, impregnated, or rubberized. This includes:

  • Wearing apparel made of leather (or composition leather)
  • Leather industrial work accessories
  • All outerwear made from woven, knitted, or crocheted fabrics for men, women, and children
  • Shirts, t-shirts, underpants, briefs, pajamas, blouses, corsets, brassieres, and more
  • Clothing accessories like gloves, belts, and shawls
  • Footwear without applied soles
  • Custom tailoring
  • Headgear of fur skins
  • Any parts of the above products 

The following items, however, cannot be manufactured or conducted under this license

  • Fur skin apparel (except headgear)
  • Footwear
  • Rubber 
  • Apparel made from rubber or plastics not assembled by stitching but sealed together
  • Leather sports gloves and sports headgear
  • Safety headgear (except for sports)
  • Fire-resistant and protective safety clothing
  • Apparel repair 
  • Third-party Approval: Third-party approval from the Sharjah Municipality is required for this business activity, post obtaining your business license 
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 1410.00 is exempt from this requirement
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 1410.00 is exempt from this requirement

Did you find what you were looking for? Explore the other guides in our Activity Hub for exploring unique business ideas in Dubai and navigate the essentials of business setup with ease.

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