Company Registration (CR) is the certificate that the Registrar of Companies issues to businessmen when they apply for company Registration. The Middle East is a developing and dynamic hub for investment. A growing population and middle class, together with substantial efforts to encourage activity outside of oil and gas industries provides business opportunities across the region. The Middle East has the least demanding tax framework globally and is the easiest place in which to pay taxes. These factors combined make the region attractive for foreign businesses.
Best Business Centers in the Middle East
Situated on the Persian Gulf, next to the Gulf of Oman, the city of Dubai is a renowned global city whose importance to the global economy is almost unparalleled. Because of its strategic position, actively-diversifying economy, and excellent trade relations and prestige, Dubai is an excellent location for any businesses looking to expand or invest, especially into Middle Eastern, North African, and Central and South Asian markets, or anyone looking to do business in the Middle East region.
If you want to start a business in Dubai, there are a few things to be aware before proceeding. First, as a result of ownership laws in the UAE, foreigners cannot hold majority ownership of any businesses in Dubai and must have an Emirati partner who holds at least 51% ownership of the venture. Notable exceptions to this ownership rule are Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City, in which non-nationals can own 100% of a business. Secondly, the process to start a business can be daunting for someone who does not know how to navigate the tricky business registration process, so it would be best to have someone who has gone through the process before as a guide. Thirdly, Dubai is tax-free, but does not hold a free trade agreement with the US, so tariffs can still be raised when engaging in trade between the two nations.
2. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Located a mere 147 kilometers from Dubai, Abu Dhabi is another great choice for potential locations to do business in the Middle East. As the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is the seat of the Emirati government and is home to the President of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The emirate independently has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world and is currently the richest emirate in the country. Abu Dhabi is also a city of great economic importance. Currently, there is over one trillion dollars globally invested in the city, making it a hotspot for investors seeking new markets and entrepreneurs from all over the globe.
Abu Dhabi is a tax-free and duty-free city, making it optimal for extensive trade, especially because the Emirate of Abu Dhabi repatriates all of the profits from a foreign venture to the owners without holding any of the revenue. This makes Abu Dhabi extremely competitive option when picking a new place to do business. The process for starting a business and restrictions on businesses are the same throughout all of UAE, so, as a non-national, you will need to have an Emirati partner to own the majority of the business (51% or more).
3. Doha, Qatar
Doha, the capital of state of Qatar, is another sound option when selecting a place to do business in the Middle East. Qatar currently has the third largest GDP per capita in the whole world with 1.8 million citizens as of 2013, 1.3 million of which live in Doha. All of Qatar’s top trade partners are Asian nations (Japan, South Korea, and India), making Doha a prime location for business targeting Asian markets.
The economic wealth of Doha and Qatar, as a whole, is due entirely to the discovery of oil in 1940. Petroleum and natural gas production accounts for the majority of the country and city’s revenue, but the government is seeking to move away from oil dependence and expanding its income source. Doha, in particular, has been expanding in the real estate industry and in construction, particularly in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup which will be hosted in Qatar. The extensive construction in Doha could be seen as a positive sign of growth and expansion.
In order to start a business in Qatar, you must first go through a lengthy registration process at the Ministry of Trade and Business. Knowing Arabic or having a business partner who knows Arabic is imperative, as part of the registration process is submitting articles of association which must be prepared and written in Arabic before being accepted. As in UAE, foreigners are not allowed to have majority ownership of enterprises in Qatar, so you must also find a business partner who is a national to own at least 51% of your company. The partner is not legally obliged to contribute financially to the enterprise or to assist in the daily operation of the company and, as majority owner, can terminate operations at any time. The partner must either be an individual Qatari or a local company which is 100% owned by Qataris. Qatar is also a member of the World Trade Organization.
4. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The capital of one of the world’s richest nations, Riyadh is an economic titan and the most prosperous city in Saudi Arabia. With an average GDP per capita equating to approximately 32 thousand USD, it is an excellent choice for selecting where to do business in the Middle East.
The economy of Saudi Arabia is mostly based on the oil industry, which is no surprise considering that the country holds the largest oil reserves in the whole world, and Riyadh benefits immensely from this oil industry, accounting for about 55% of Saudi Arabia’s overall GDP. As a direct result of its oil resources and industry, KSA is one of the leading members of OPEC. In addition to this, Riyadh and all of Saudi Arabia are going through a construction boom, meaning the heavy industries in the nation are on the rise. In terms of trade, the Kingdom imports a great deal of produce and other goods such as textiles and machinery, due to a lack of arable land and the weakness of non-oil industries.
Riyadh benefits from trade agreements with several nations, including the US. In fact, Saudi Arabia is the United States’ biggest trade partner in the Middle East. One major potential drawback of doing business in Riyadh, depending on the business, is a lack of seaports or ocean access, due to the city being landlocked. It does however have relatively quick access to the city of Jeddah, which sits on the Red Sea to the West, and Dammam, which sits on the Persian Gulf.
5. Muscat, Oman
The nation of Oman sits on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula and its lovely capital of Muscat offers businesses a plethora of advantages to businesses looking to expand, but also comes with its own drawbacks. The economy of Oman is, just like almost all of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf, based on petroleum and natural gas production and refinement. The second largest industry is cement production. The main commercial activity of Muscat, historically and contemporarily, is trade and the recent importance of oil has made trade extremely profitable in the area.
Just like in neighboring nations, foreigners are not allowed to own more than 49% of companies based in Oman. In fact, without special permissions, it is nearly impossible to open a business in Oman and Muscat if you are a non-national. However, exceptions are sometimes made allowing for 100% ownership with special permission from the Council of Ministers. This is the result of a trade agreement the government has with the US which provides American investors and entrepreneurs with slight preferential treatment when conducting business in the country.