How to choose a local office in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to be one of the most attractive destinations for international business and choosing office space here is an important consideration that requires careful consideration and careful planning. As experts in the UAE, Antwort Law is pleased to advise clients and visitors to our website in this area.

1. Business Goals: When choosing an office in the UAE, the first and perhaps most important step is to define your business goals and how the desired office space will help you achieve them. Different office types can offer various benefits depending on your specific needs.

Depending on your needs (head office, representative office, or space for your team to work), the type of office that will be most suitable is determined: open work areas, individual offices, coworking spaces, or luxury offices.

It is worth noting that many free zones in the UAE offer companies registered there a convenient option to rent office space, which is a popular solution among entrepreneurs for organising their activities. However, there are restrictions on the rental of certain real estate properties, which depend on the type of company and the zone of its registration. 

2. Location: Choosing an address is more than just choosing an address; it is a strategic decision that can significantly impact the operational efficiency, brand, and overall success of your business. The location should also be convenient for your clients, which could mean being in the same geographic area as your target audience or in a location with good transport links so clients can easily visit your office. Let's take a closer look at how different business districts in the UAE can serve the unique needs of various businesses.

Dubai Internet City: A magnet for IT companies and high-tech start-ups, offering state-of-the-art infrastructure, high-speed internet and access to a wide range of IT services and support. Having an office in this area also facilitates collaboration with other technology companies and exchanging knowledge and experience in this dynamic industry.

Dubai Media City: for companies specialising in media, advertising, PR and public relations. Provides access to multiple media platforms and offers unique networking opportunities with leading industry professionals. It also hosts numerous events and festivals that can be an excellent platform for promoting your brand.

Abu Dhabi Global Market: This location offers a stable regulatory environment, international standards, and access to global markets for businesses focused on finance, investment, and banking. Having a presence here can significantly increase the confidence of customers and investors in your business.

3. Cost: in the UAE, renting office space can vary significantly depending on the location and level of comfort. In addition to rent, consider additional costs such as utilities, internet, maintenance and taxes. Here are the approximate rental prices: 

Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City: some of the most prestigious areas, offer prices ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 dirhams per square meter per year.

Abu Dhabi Global Market: As a financial centre, rental prices can be even higher—from 1,500 to 2,500 dirhams per square meter per year, especially for offices in new and modern buildings with developed infrastructure.

Offices in less central areas of Dubai or Abu Dhabi: can cost between Dh800 and Dh1,500 per square meter per year, depending on the level of comfort and availability of infrastructure.

Additional expenses

Utilities: Prices may vary depending on office size and consumption, but they average between AED 20 and AED 40 per square meter per month.

Internet and telecommunications: The monthly cost can vary from 500 to 2000 dirhams, depending on the provider and service package.

Maintenance and Cleaning: Maintenance costs can be included in the rent or paid separately, ranging from AED 500 to AED 3,000 per month, depending on the size of the office and level of services.

Taxes and Fees: In the UAE, Value Added Tax (VAT) is 5% and applies to many services and goods, including rent and utilities.

4. Legal aspects: In the UAE, there are specific requirements for renting office space for business, especially for foreign companies. Ensure you have all the necessary licenses and permits to operate at your chosen location, and consider consulting with a local legal agent to avoid potential legal issues.

  • Licensing: Doing business in the UAE requires obtaining an appropriate license, which varies depending on the type of activity and location of the company. In free zone companies, for example, licenses are issued by the administration of the corresponding free economic zone, while operating outside of it requires a permit from the municipality or other local authorities.
  • Business Registration: To officially open and operate an office, your business must be registered with the relevant UAE government authorities. This process may include registration with the Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Economy and other regulatory authorities.
  • Lease Agreement: It is important to carefully review the terms of the lease agreement for office space. The contract must clearly define all payments, lease terms, terms of contract renewal, and responsibilities of the parties. Particular attention should be paid to points regarding responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the premises and possible restrictions on the use of space.
  • Legal Compliance: Ensure the selected office space meets all local legal and regulatory requirements, including fire safety, sanitation and handicapped access.

Choosing an office in the UAE is an important decision that requires careful consideration of several other factors, such as the size and scale of the company, the team’s current needs, space layout, and technical and functional requirements of the office. Given the dynamic development of the real estate market in the UAE in 2024, it is important to stay up to date with current trends and changes in legislation. In this context, Antwort Law experts and partners are pleased to offer You a deep understanding of the local real estate market and an integrated approach to solving problems associated with choosing an office.

Lidia Ivanova

International lawyer
Antwort Law

What factors are important to consider when choosing an office in the UAE?
When choosing an office, it is important to determine your business goals, consider the strategic location, and evaluate the cost of rent. You should also consider the legal aspects of leasing and the availability of necessary licenses.
What types of offices are available in the UAE?
The country offers different types of office space: open work areas, individual offices, co-working spaces and luxury offices, the choice of which depends on your activities and preferences. We also note that many free zones offer a convenient option for renting office space for companies registered there, which is a popular solution among entrepreneurs for organizing their activities. However, at the same time, there are restrictions on the rental of certain real estate properties, which depend on the type of company and the zone of its registration.
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