If you’re an expat living abroad in the UAE and you wish to build your own enterprise, it’s crucial to learn the unique way businesses work in this nation.
The UAE Way of Business: A Marriage of Advanced Technology and Old-Time Religion
Two of the main variables you need to consider in setting up a business in the UAE are the fast-evolving technology and the strict adherence to Islamic laws.
Progressive technologies are relied upon by thriving businesses in the UAE to expedite processes within operations and take customer service and experience to a whole new level. This, basically, means that for your business to successfully go head-to-head with longer-established companies, you must use such technologies the way the bigger players do.
As for the Islamic culture in business, it’s a given that all business operations need to observe the Shariah Law. This can be a challenge if you’re a non-Muslim, but the Shariah law can also be a business advantage. None of the seven regions of the United Arab Emirates imposes federal income tax. In this part of the world, it is considered haram or forbidden to take unearned income, under which taxes are classified.
Observe Traditional Business Principles
Despite the many nuances of setting up a business in the UAE, long-time business owners and consultants believe that upholding traditional business principles can secure success for new enterprises. Business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi also say that a commitment to fundamentals creates continuity for the special core values that set enterprises apart from their competitors.
What are the Fundamentals to Uphold?
While the dominant trend for businesses, especially in the UAE, appears to be more supportive of being innovative and future-ready, there’s no denying that for certain user experiences, long-established tactics work better. Listed below are the fundamentals you should apply to your UAE-based enterprise.
1. Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should.
This principle is very important when it comes to deciding what your offerings will be. A solid example for this would be the backlash to the “vintage” T-shirts by Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
Many aspects of the said products were questionable, but the questions raised were not necessarily about whether or not the shirts could be worn. The shirts have since been pulled from their site and product lineup because most believed they shouldn’t have been sold.
Therefore, during the conceptualization of products and services, take the time to ask if you should create your product in the first place. This way, you can do without non-profitable efforts.
2. Know Your Competition.
Focusing on your customers is crucial. Just as important, however, is knowing the other industry players who are also targeting your identified market.
One of the best ways to push any business forward is to ensure that it’s doing something differently to better appeal to the target audience through experience.
3. Develop Services Based on Customers’ Perspectives.
Staying on top of the customers’ expressed requirements, as well as the people they’re developing into, is a true fundamental for business. This develops a sense of familiarity with the business, which then leads to frequent engagement and loyalty.
This is especially true in the UAE where reputation is everything for businesses. Focusing on customers’ perspectives is one of the strongest marketing strategies your business can use.
4. Obey the Rules.
Don’t take shortcuts for certain processes just so the business can be operational right away. Take all of the necessary steps. Study all of the requirements, such as how to file for income tax, the UAE trade license activities details, building codes for your shop or headquarters, and others.
Complete and comply with all of these. This is the best way to ensure hassle-free operations in the UAE.
If such requirements are too overwhelming for an expat like you, there are business setup companies that can assist you with the process. Consider turning to their services so you can get everything right.
5. Marketing is Always a Top Priority.
Advertisements and other promotional efforts are musts, especially in the UAE where the business scene serves as the playground for brilliant marketing specialists.
You need to take your marketing seriously, because it’s the tried and true way of leveling the playing field and gaining a bigger market share.
6. Profit is Only Secondary to High-Level Quality Service.
In the UAE, you’ll find discriminating clients or customers; it comes with the territory of being home to some of the oldest civilizations. So, don’t ever compromise the comfort, familiarity, and satisfaction of your customers by scrimping on quality and quantity merely to make things easier for your business.
It’s imperative to believe that even when customers have yet to make a purchase, their initial positive experience with the business will eventually encourage them to carry out a transaction in the future or recommend the establishment to others.
Building a business abroad successfully in the UAE as an expat is not that different from setting up a business elsewhere. There are some slight differences, but the general idea is to do what is considered right where you are. You simply can’t go wrong with this.
Serial Entrepreneur and Business Strategist Henri Hazougi is the Managing Director/Partner of Business Setup Consultants DMCC. The company offers a broad range of expertise in corporate services assisting companies and entrepreneurs in setting up and expanding their business in the UAE.