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The Hong Kong Of The Middle East

Welcome to's Hot Franchise Markets Report. This issue we focus on Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, one of the fastest growing and dynamic markets in the world.

Dubai is bursting with new commercial and residential property developments. The ultra-modern apartments, villas and ranches at affordable prices are attracting international attention, with business and trade booming as more and more people head for the crystal waters of the Persian Gulf. Dubai has joined China as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosts many international companies. Many of the 2,600 companies located in the country's Tax Free Zones now use their locations as a staging post for trade with the Middle East, Australia India, Pakistan and China. Dubai's Internet City and Media City house the regional offices for Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Siemens, HP, Oracle, Cisco Systems, CNN, Reuters, and the Associated Press among others.

The UAE is strategically located on the Arabian Peninsula and consists of seven Emirates. The UAE borders the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, and is approximately the size of the state of Maine. Only 20 % of the population is local Emirati.

The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1971, thus English was the main language spoken during our visit. A high percentage of business managers are from the West, other Arab nations, or India and Pakistan. Dubai is safe and travel there has increased by 23% from 2003 to 2004. Dubai International Financial Centre is turning Dubai into the leading financial market in the Middle East. European regulators are overseeing the project and new laws for financial transparency have been passed. Located at the crossroads of the major international capital markets of New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore, Dubai is the complementary hub connecting the region with the 24-7 global financial network.

Large equates to HUGE in Dubai. The emirate has completed or has under construction the:
  • World's largest marina
  • World's largest man-made harbor positioning UAE as cargo hub of Middle East
  • World's tallest building conceived as a city within a city
  • World's two largest artificial islands, Palm Islands, actually visible from the moon. Dubai is really out of this world!
  • Theme park twice the size of Disney World to include the biggest shopping mall in the world, The Mall of Arabia

Dubai is a major destination for Arabs, Europeans, Australians and Asians. The tremendous construction of large residential towers along the shoreline, has allowed foreign visitors the opportunity to purchase apartments along-side the beach at prices starting at $ 200,000. These prices are usually far less then the cost of residences in their local countries. There are no capital gain, inheritance, income, or sales taxes in Dubai! Many visitors become residents and are in position to open new businesses in Dubai.

Housing developments on Palm Jumeirah island got sold out in 2 months. The whole of the UK soccer team have bought houses there, as well as Tiger Woods who plays in Dubai year after year in the Dubai Desert Classic, Bill Clinton, Jay Leno, and Michael Shumacher, who will soon be racing at The Dubai Autodrome. There are to be about 50 hotels on Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebe islands with malls that need to be seen to be believed. There is the Water World which is another exhilarating diving experince in an artificial reef . Also, the world's richest Horse Race, The Dubai Cup, is held annually.

UAE Facts:

  • Population (2004): 3.2 Million estimated
  • Population projected 2010: 5.2 Million projected
  • Proportion of foreigners (2004): 80 %
  • Proportion of projected foreigners 2010 : 90 %
  • Population within 2 Hr flying time : 1.5 billion
  • Labor force by occupation 2004: 78 % Service Industry
  • Tourists 2004: 5 Million
  • Tourists projected 2010 : 15 Million projected
  • Languages: English, Arabic
  • Currency Pegged To US Dollar: 3.67 UAE dirham = $ 1

DUBAI Facts:

  • Population 2004: estimated 1 Million
  • Taxes : None
  • Crime : Virtually None
  • Alcohol : Allowed
  • Climate : Desert
  • Hotels : 272 with 30,000 rooms
  • Shopping Malls : 30
  • Travel Time From NY : 14 Hrs Direct

Your Opportunity

Growing markets in both real estate and tourism translate into a need for products and services of all types. Some of the larger American food brands are already present in the UAE, and many more can be accommodated. More people also translates into more autos, and a need for automobile services. Finally more shops and residences translate into need for interior furnishings. More business translates into need for banking, financial, legal, consulting and accounting services. More families increase the need for groceries, clothing, children's items, etc. There are many opportunities available in the fastest growing market on Earth!

Franchising in the UAE

There is no special legislation for franchising in the UAE. General contract and commercial law apply to franchise agreements. UAE law mandates that only UAE citizens or corporations wholly owned by UAE citizens or those with a UAE partner or sponsor are allowed to conduct operations. Businesses located in the multiple free zones are exempt.

Having a desire to catalyse the development and growth of the small and medium size business sector in the UAE, the government is very keen to promote franchising. Under the guidance of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Price of Dubai and UAE Miister of Defense, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment For Young Business Leaders was opened to provide business training to entrepreneurs. Soon after in February 2004 the government launched the UAE Franchise Association. Since then the Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) developed a program to assist young UAE nationals finance the purchase of franchises. Continuing its efforts in January 2005 the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment For Young Business Leaders introduced a program to assist young female UAE entrepreneurs develop new businesses.

As with other types of business operations in the UAE, the selection of the local partner or sponsor is critical. Each market is different and requires qualified local partners to exploit its opportunities.

Your Next Step

Don't be left out of this tremendous market. If you already are international, add Dubai to your locations list. If you are considering international operations, do the same. is opening an office in Dubai, has opened its UAE website for Franchisers and Prospects and has recently partnered with a leading business service and accounting firm in Dubai, which has identified pre-screened buyers who are eagerly seeking franchises.

© 2005
Categories: International