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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

4 Tips To Help British Companies expand To Abu Dhabi

18th November 2018

Following Gateway's recent participation in the Going Global exhibition & conference in London, British companies looking beyond Europe and Brexit can easily prepare to expand to Abu Dhabi or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Here are our four tips, based upon the interactions we had at the conference.

1. Market Research

Doing business in Abu Dhabi is very different to the UK. It's essential to understand the market entry routes; laws; competition; demand for your product/service; pricing structure; culture; special approvals; typical payment process. Your product/service may need adaptation to fit into the local market. If you aren't appointing a distributor, you will likely require a commercial license (Trade Licence) to operate. If you are intending to work in the UAE, send over staff or appoint expats locally, it will be necessary to supply visas and health insurance to your employees.

2. Start building a network of contacts

Success in Abu Dhabi is often down to 'Who You Know'. When researching the market, identify the companies that you would like to work with and start to make connections via LinkedIn. If possible, attend exhibitions and conferences to start building your brand awareness. Connect with the local trade advisors at the Department for International Trade. Join the British Business Group in Abu Dhabi as an associate member for access to over 300 members who are on-the-ground in Abu Dhabi and can share their knowledge and experience of living and working in the Capital, or join the or the British Business Group in Dubai for networking events with members based in Dubai and can provide insights into doing business in Dubai.

3. Visit the UAE

There is only so much research you will be able to do from your desk. If you are emailing prospects in the UAE to start building relationships, this will only get you so far. In particular, if your target market is Emirati businesses or government entities, then face-to-face meetings will be essential. It should be noted that meetings are often arranged at the last minute, so being easily available will be helpful. Business in the UAE is very much relational prior to transactional so expect numerous meetings, often over coffee, to build trust and respect before getting to discussing contracts and collaborative opportunities. Not only will you need to prove your capability, you will need to show your commitment to doing business in the Emirates with regular visits and at some point by establishing a commercial presence and setting up a business there in order to commence work. Gateway Group can help you with setting up your business in Abu Dhabi or Dubai at that time.

4. Identify opportunities for your product or service

Before establishing your business in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, its essential to identify opportunities in order not to waste your investment too early. This can be done in a number of ways, e.g. attending conferences and exhibitions; regularly reading the local newspapers such as the Khaleej Times; engaging a local specialist to do business development on your behalf; monitoring the websites of prospective clients for tender opportunities; and, collaborating with similar entities to your own. It's worth noting, to participate in many tenders there will be a requirement to have an Abu Dhabi or Dubai business licence - Gateway Group can arrange this for you.

How Gateway Group can help your British Business expand into the UAE

The Gateway Group helps foreign companies to understand the requirements for setting up and doing business in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. We'll ensure that your organisation sets up in the right jurisdiction with the right type of business license. Whilst companies may initially be put off by all of the bureaucracy, Gateway guides your organisation through the process quickly and efficiently so that you can focus on developing your business. Gateway Group also provides a selection of local sponsor packages for companies setting up on the UAE mainland rather than in a free zone - these are designed to provide ultimate protection for foreign companies' profits and assets as well as financial, administrative, managerial and operational control of their business. To get started with setting up your business in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai email Gateway Group

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE


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