Why is UAE the perfect place to set up a regional HQ?
The UAE has developed a reputation as a strong regional business hub, creating healthy market competition and a wide choice for consumers in the UAE and the region whose spending habits are increasing year-on year. The UAE is also experiencing a growing number of visitors and this contributes to the excellent quality of life enjoyed by local and expatriate residents alike.
196 of the 500 largest companies on the ‘Fortune 500’ list have a dedicated office in the Middle East and Africa to service the region. The research found that 138 of these companies (70 percent) had chosen Dubai for their MEA headquarters. With its ports and airports serving as some of the most active gateways into the region for business, commerce, and tourism, it’s not hard to see why. Tech giants such as Google and Facebook have opened their Middle East regional headquarters in the UAE. They believe that with UAE’s strong business ecosystems, regional connectivity, and access to the best global talent, UAE remains the right place for them to call home in the region.
Let’s take a closer look at its strategic and practical advantages.
1. Convenient location
The UAE is one of the best-known countries in the MENA region. But one of its key advantages is its location. Not only is the UAE within easy reach of all major business hubs in MENA, but one-third of the world’s population is within a four-hour flight. And two-thirds can be reached within 8 hours. That’s hard to beat.
It’s not just a case of being relatively close to other places; the infrastructure needed for international business travel is already in place here in the UAE. Local airlines Emirates and Etihad have direct flights to every major world city – originating from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Operating out of Sharjah Airport – Air Arabia is a regional airline that flies everywhere from Casablanca to Kuala Lumpur.
Whether your customers are planning to incorporate a business now or in the future, they’ll be able to get to and from the UAE easily.
2. Tax benefits
It isn’t just year-round sunshine that brings entrepreneurs to the UAE – the economic climate is just as favorable. The Gulf states in general are known to be ahead of the rest of the MENA region when it comes to favorable tax conditions, and the UAE is leading the way.
The UAE has zero tax on both personal and corporate incomes. Besides, the UAE doesn’t require companies to submit corporate tax returns for anything other than foreign banking or oil/gas activities.
The favorable tax environment, a multicultural lifestyle, a diversified and resilient economy and so many other factors behind the number of talented people already living in the UAE – from all over the world.
3. Security & safety
The quality of life in the UAE is very different from many other parts of the MENA region – and this extends to both safety and overall security.
The city of Sharjah has been ranked the 6th world’s safest city while Abu Dhabi is listed as the city with the lowest crime rate in the World. Dubai is securely in the global top 10 – ahead of Zurich, Reykjavik, and Singapore.
While strict laws do exist per local customs, the vast majority of them are designed to preserve a more modest way of life. They also go a long way to discourage openly aggressive or indecent behavior – which may be a welcome change for young families relocating from other cities across the world.
That said, compared to a lot of other MENA countries the UAE is one of the most liberal in its attitudes and outlook. Progress and modernization thrive here – in many different ways.
4. Easy company setup
Setting up a business in the UAE is simple by design. You would be hard-pressed to find an easier place to set up your business.
From a financial perspective, the stable UAE dirham pegged to the US dollar, the absence of income and corporate taxes, exchange restrictions, and the ability to repatriate capital and profits make it a very attractive proposition when considering setting up a business in the UAE. There are minimal trade barriers and tariffs within the region, allowing an investor the freedom to trade goods at competitive prices.
The development of Free Zones all over the Emirates provides many locations within which a foreign investor can set up a 100 percent owned business with each Free Zone focusing on certain types of investment. An easily available skilled workforce, modern communication, sea, and air transport network, excellent infrastructure, and the geographical location of the UAE all serve to provide the foreign investor with a stable and reliable investment climate.
5. Access to talent
Attracting a skilled and effective workforce is one of the main concerns of ambitious businesses large and small, and that’s why UAE prides itself on ensuring that it is a magnet for talent in the region. A collaborative mechanism between government, business, and academia enables UAE’s talent pool to meet private sector requirements. UAE proactively identifies human capital needs in diverse domains and then attracts and develops high-quality talent at a competitive cost. Intelligence and foresight prepare the city to meet future needs and there is a 40% increase in knowledge workers targeted by 2021.
Through a combination of a solid regulatory framework and stable risk environment, mixed with an innovation mindset and a large pool of talent, not to mention a whole host of premium office locations, UAE has cultivated a well-deserved reputation as being a prestigious choice for large multinationals.
As every business leader knows, it’s imperative to be close to where the decision-makers are, and with over 90 percent of the top regional CEOs of global companies based out of the UAE, it is an advantageous place to be. A city built on an ambitious vision of the future is a natural home for large companies looking to expand their footprint in the region.