Starting a Restaurant in the UAE: From Scratch

Published on

The UAE is a promising destination for developing various businesses. Among the leaders is the HoReCa industry – hotels, restaurants, and catering. Every year, millions of tourists visit the country, needing places to dine. Therefore, the restaurant business in the UAE is competitive, but launching a restaurant from scratch can be a profitable investment, as the return on investment in this sector is high.

Starting a restaurant in Dubai requires thorough preparation, regardless of the country where it will operate. To ensure nothing is overlooked, a step-by-step plan should be drawn up. When it comes to the restaurant business in Dubai, the following procedures need to be followed:

  • Develop the restaurant concept.
  • Find a suitable location for the concept.
  • Reserve the property.
  • Obtain a certificate of preliminary approval from the Department of Economic Development.
  • Develop a detailed plan for the restaurant's dining area, kitchen, and other facilities.
  • Obtain approval from the Department of Food Control for food quality.
  • Obtain a restaurant business license from the Department of Economic Development.
  • Carry out renovations in the premises.
  • Equip the premises.
  • Obtain permission for the use of the premises and equipment.
  • Obtain approval from local authorities to open the restaurant.

The launch of a restaurant chain follows a similar algorithm. However, it is essential to note that each location is treated as a separate establishment, requiring its own set of documents.

Establishing a restaurant from scratch is a costly endeavor. The primary expenses include renting the premises, renovating it, purchasing kitchen equipment, and furnishing the dining area.

Required Documents:

  • Business activities in the UAE require licensing, the cost of which depends on the type of license. It takes about a week to obtain, and it is issued by the Department of Economic Development. The application can only be submitted after receiving preliminary approval from the Ministry of Economy for the development of the restaurant business. Additionally, opening a restaurant or café requires permits from the Department of Food Control and the Drainage and Irrigation Department of the Dubai Municipality.
  • The standard license validity period is one year, and it must be renewed after expiration. There is no automatic license renewal, requiring owners or managers to reconfirm that the restaurant complies with all legislative requirements. Essentially, renewing the license is like starting a new business, but slightly simpler.
  • Additionally, it is necessary to come up with a unique name for the restaurant. To avoid duplication, the idea can be checked on the Department of Economy and Tourism website. Preliminary approval for opening a restaurant from the same department will require a business plan, project name, and some other documents.
  • A Memorandum of Association is another mandatory document, serving as the equivalent of a company charter. The agreement includes the business goals, owner information, capital, and other essential details.
  • Opening a bank account for business operations in the UAE requires the following documents:
  • Memorandum of Association, license, registration certificate.
  • Resident visa and national identity card of the shareholders.
  • Lease agreement or property ownership documents.
  • Bank statements from the country of residence for the last 6 months.
  • Resumes of the shareholders.
  • Documents of shareholders and managing director.

Can a Russian Open a Restaurant in the UAE

In the Emirates, any foreigner, including Russians, can start a business in a free economic zone or on the mainland. Offshore companies are also provided for in the country, but their activities must be conducted abroad, so this jurisdiction is not suitable for opening a restaurant.

Free economic zones, also known as free zones, are plentiful in the UAE. Each free zone has its own set of rules, offering businesses tax incentives and other benefits.

A mainland company, also known as a local or mainland company, allows entrepreneurs to conduct business throughout the country without geographical restrictions. Such companies can participate in tenders, banks are more favorable to such clients, and foreigners can have full ownership of the business.

How Russian Restaurateurs Operate in Dubai

In recent years, Dubai has seen an influx of Russian restaurateurs. For example, there is Novikov Dubai, owned by Arkady Novikov. There is even a whole chain of bakeries with more than 15 locations across the country, called L'ETO, founded by Artem Loginov from Siberia. Dubai also has its own "DoDo Pizza," opened by Fedor Ovchinnikov based on an existing establishment.

Dubai is truly a city of opportunities. However, any business involves risk, especially in an emirate where there are around 10,000 food and beverage outlets. Therefore, it is important to study this market. The Level Consulting can help you launch a business in the UAE. The consultants at the agency can assist with many aspects, including document processing, account opening, property search, and more.

Any foreigner can open a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates, and the experience of our compatriots demonstrates that this can be done successfully. Whether launching a project from scratch or acquiring an existing business, The Level Consulting can help.

Order a consultation

Learn about the benefits and details of starting or relocating a business in the UAE