How To Set Up A Cloud Kitchen In The UAE

Commonly known as ghost kitchens or virtual kitchens, the cloud kitchen market in the UAE is experiencing an immense boom. For readers who may be unaware, let’s break down what a cloud kitchen is. 

Cloud kitchens are commercial kitchens, focused only on preparing delivery-only meals. These establishments don’t have dine-in options; they operate through online delivery platforms like Zomato, Deliveroo, or Talabat. So why did cloud kitchens become all the rage? There are several unique benefits to operating one.  

  • Lower overhead costs: With no storefront and wait staff required, overhead costs are lower than dine-in establishments 
  • Reduced investment: Cloud kitchens require a lower capital when compared to traditional restaurants
  • Flexibility: At a cloud kitchen, experimenting with different cuisines and changing menus is easier due to lower operational costs

In 2023, estimates suggested that the UAE cloud kitchen market was valued at $275.61 million. Even more incredible is its predicted compound annual growth rate: 25.17% between 2024 and 2030. Two factors contribute the most to why consumers are opting for cloud kitchen services.

  • The convenience of delivery: Consumers in the UAE are enjoying the ease of online food ordering
  • The growth of technology: As more consumers become accustomed to delivery apps, cloud kitchens are a seemingly obvious choice

For entrepreneurs looking to break into UAE’s food industry, cloud kitchens are likely to be at the top of the list. To learn more about the practices of popular cloud kitchen operators in the UAE, Kitopi, Kitch, Kitchen Nation, and The Cloud are great places to start. 

To establish a cloud kitchen in the UAE, here are some business licenses we recommend. SPC Free Zone uniquely offers each of these as instant licenses, along with a guaranteed bank account within three working days and unlimited visas for employees, investors, or partners. 

5610.00 – Restaurants and Mobile Food Service Activities food and Beverage Service Activities

Exemplary food is what makes a cloud kitchen rise to tangible success. For any business wishing to operate in the food and beverage industry, this license is essential. Although a cloud kitchen may not have on-site dining, this license is what enables entrepreneurs to prepare, serve, and provide meals to customers for immediate consumption. 

Whether a prepared meal is eaten at the restaurant’s premises, purchased as take-out, or delivered—as is typically the case for cloud kitchens—this license is an entrepreneur’s ticket to entering the bustling food trade. 

For those curious about the types of vendors who can use this license to operate, here’s a quick look: restaurants, cafeterias, fast-food restaurants, pizza delivery, take-out eateries, ice cream truck vendors, mobile food carts, and market stalls where food is prepared. This further extends to restaurant and bar activities that are connected to transportation. Note that the operation of concession stands is excluded from this list. 

Although certain avenues listed above may not resonate with entrepreneurs that have a clear-cut vision for their cloud kitchen, remember that UAE’s thriving business landscape creates immense potential for expansion and chain eateries. A successful cloud kitchen opens the doors to multiple revenue streams, given that an entrepreneur has procured all the right licenses. 

  • Third-party Approval: Third-party approval from the Food Safety Department (Sharjah municipality) is required for this business activity, after obtaining your trade license (This approval is not required prior to obtaining your trade license)
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 5610.00 is exempt from this requirement
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 5610.00 is exempt from this requirement

8211.14 – Managing and operating of self-kitchens

High-quality, scrumptious meals may place you on the map as a cloud kitchen, but every business needs to hold strong and steady when it comes to management and operations. A cloud kitchen is no exception. 

Day-to-day administrative services enable the kitchen to function with ease, keeping roadblocks to a minimum. For a self-kitchen, this means managing suppliers, internal staff, forming stringent schedules, and establishing productive processes for each member of the team. 

On paper, this includes financial planning, billing and record keeping, personnel and physical distribution, and overall logistics. Investing in management and operations enables a cloud kitchen to understand how to better serve its customers, forge a strong relationship with consumers, and work towards building a consistent stream of revenue. 

Note that if an entrepreneur is looking to hire one set of staff to manage all operations of the business—not just administrative tasks—then this license is not suited for them. We recommend that they look towards the specific industry they are involved in, such as food or hospitality. 

In addition to this, entrepreneurs cannot contract a company that offers just one administrative service. For example, a cloud kitchen requires everything from handling financing to coordinating deliveries. If a company provides only one of these services, it does not fall under Combined office administrative services.

With the food industry in the UAE experiencing significant growth, these licenses unlock a multitude of opportunities for entrepreneurs.

  • Third-party Approval: No third-party approvals are required for this business activity
  • Filing of Economic Substance Return: Business activity 8211.14 is exempt from this requirement
  • Anti-Money Laundering Compliance: Business activity 8211.14 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.

You can also calculate your business setup costs easily using our handy cost calculator and choose from our customized company setup packages to find your perfect fit.

Get your business license in the UAE today and explore a world of opportunities waiting for you.

Ayushi Doegar

A Content Marketer with a passion for fostering people to grow their businesses. As a dedicated business blog writer, I bring ideas to life through captivating storytelling and industry expertise, empowering businesses to connect with their audiences and thrive in the ever-changing market.

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