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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Can You Side Hustle In Abu Dhabi?

27th February 2019

Side hustling is extremely popular globally, but can you do it in Abu Dhabi, UAE?

What is side hustling?

Side hustling is a way to make extra money. Over recent years it has become a booming sector of entrepreneurs around the world, either making additional income on the side of their main salaried job or as a step to giving up their 9-5 to become financially self sufficient. The boom in side hustling has been enhanced massively due to recent advances in technology, distribution channels and of course social media.

So can you side hustle in Abu Dhabi?

Until recently, it was possible to side hustle, but it was expensive to get licensed and it was necessary to get a little creative with structuring the ownership of the license. In essence, to be able to carry out a side hustle the license fees an entrepreneur would incur would match those paid by a multi national setting up in Abu Dhabi.

However, in the latter part of 2018, the government of Abu Dhabi opened up a new license option for UAE expat residents, called Tajer, making it much more cost effective to set up a side hustle. This, combined with the waiving of local government fees for new businesses setting up in Abu Dhabi, as part of a three year strategy to stimulate the local economy, makes it a great time to start a side hustle in Abu Dhabi.

Do you need a license for your Abu Dhabi side hustle?

Absolutely! Yes! For any type of business in Abu Dhabi it is mandatory to have a license. A side hustle is the same.

What are the benefits of the new Tajer Abu Dhabi license for expat residents?

  • Over 1,000 activities available to choose from, including trading, meaning lots of opportunities for most potential startup businesses

  • No office space/shop required for the first two years meaning you can work from home and save on office lease costs

  • Quick setup, often within a matter of hours, means you can get started straight away

  • License fee due at the start and then nothing to pay for the first two years

  • Easy bank account opening - all you need is your Tajer business license, original Emirates ID and original passport

  • Multiple shareholders are allowed, meaning friends can collaborate on a new business venture together

  • The initial license is valid for two years meaning you can focus on developing your business. Think of it as a business incubator.

Are there any limitations with the Tajer Abu Dhabi license?

  • If you are selling via a website, it should be .ae rather than any other suffix

  • Must be a UAE resident with an Emirates ID card

  • It is possible to employ staff, but this is restricted to three. (There will also be additional fees to pay in terms of registering the Tajer License with Immigration and MOHRE.) Alternatively you could consider outsourcing

  • Activities are generally restricted to those which don't require special approvals

  • After two years, it is necessary to lease a commercial premise related to the activity on the license

  • After two years, standard local government license fees will be payable and these will vary upon depending upon the activity of the business.

Do you need a local sponsor for a Tajer Abu Dhabi license?

Yes, an Emirati local sponsor is required. We recommend using Gateway's Emirati partner as you will benefit from peace of mind that all companies sponsored by this partner are professionally managed by Gateway. Furthermore, the arrangement will be structured as a nominee partner arrangements to ensure you have operational control of your business and retain all of your profits.

You need to take action to make something happen.

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE


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