Exporting to Dubai - Getting into the market 

Having created an unrestricted trade environment, competition in Dubai has become very keen in key sectors. This may mean working hard to introduce your products or services into an already overcrowded marketplace. UK businesses wishing to enter the Dubai market need to identify potential advantages such as better quality, faster delivery, lower prices or more innovative designs. Price is seen as key in promoting sales although quality and after-sales service are also important considerations. Regular visits to the country are likely to reap rewards.

Most government ministries in Dubai are required to purchase through local agents who may also help with sales and marketing. However, it is still possible for British firms to sell direct into Dubai contractors.

For businesses new to the Dubai market there are three main ways of selling into the country – direct trade, via commercial agencies or establishing a presence in the country. Which one to choose depends on the nature of the product or service involved.

Direct selling to established importers and traders is the best route for businesses with low trade volumes to test the market but is not regarded as a good permanent solution.

Selling to commercial agents or distributors which must be UAE companies or owned by UAE nationals. This is likely to be relaxed soon and does not apply to the free zones. There is the option to appoint a sole agent or enlist various representatives with separate agreements for different products.

The third option of setting up a local presence itself has a number of advantages, including the fact that Dubai business people prefer to meet those with whom they are dealing in person. Setting up a business in Dubai can be time-consuming since there are no “off the-shelf” companies. Getting legal advice is vital when forming companies. Normally foreign participation in these ventures in limited to 49 per cent, although there are contractual means of mitigating the effects of minority ownership. A further option is opening a branch office.

Documents required for exports to Dubai are invoices, Certificates of Origin and Bills of Lading. Labelling in Arabic is required for all consumer products.