How to Open Restaurant or Cafe Business in UAE

The restaurant business is one of the most popular businesses in the UAE, not only due to the growing demand but also due to the high payback, which creates a lot of serious competition. Therefore, before opening a new food outlet in Dubai, you should conduct a thorough market research, develop a concept and choose a strategically correct location to withstand fast-growing competition, in particular on the eve of Expo 2020. To date, there are more than 10,000 restaurants and cafes in Dubai and the number of those just continues to grow.



   As for any other type of entrepreneurial activity, to open a restaurant or cafe you will need to obtain a license, which in this case will be commercial. To understand whether you will need a local partner or not, you need to determine the location of the future restaurant. If you have chosen the territory of the free zone, your establishment will be 100% foreign owned. Speaking of Dubai, restaurants, and cafes are often opened in such free economic zones as DMCC and DIFC.

   Nevertheless, most of the busiest places in the UAE are on the "mainland of Dubai," so without a local partner or a local agent will not do.

   Opening any catering establishment will require you to go through several steps and we will try to guide you, which departments and institutions you will need to approach. The first phase on the way to the opening of your business in the Emirates should be the development of the concept of the restaurant. Also, you will need to find a suitable retail place and reserve the same from the owner. When choosing suitable location, pay attention to the passability of the area, which is how many people a day pass by that specific location. Next look at the availability of parking spaces, visibility, the cost of renting a space. Keep in mind that the restaurant should be at least 30 meters from the nearest waste disposal or disposal sites.

   After this, you will go to the Department of Economic Development of Dubai to apply for pre-approval. The process and steps to be taken in the Department of Economic Develppment we discussed in the previous modules. Feel free to re-visit respective chapters of the course.

   Following your visit to DED, you will take care of the retail space for your restaurant. Dubai is known for its high rates for renting commercial and retail real estate. However, do not fall into the trap here. Your rent should not exceed 10% of the expected sales per year.

   Next, you need to make a detailed plan for the restaurant, where you must specify the room for storage and processing of food products, sanitary zones (toilets), windows and ventilation system, the location of equipment (including washing machines), entrances and exits.

   The detailed plan of the premises and the preliminary approval received from the Economic Department you are taking to the Department of Food Quality Control.

   The received approval is then sent back to the Department of Economic Development, where you will be given a license to run the restaurant business. However, this is not all.

   After that (or while you are waiting for permits), you can start doing fit-outs or installing the equipment and decorating the room. To do this, you will also need to obtain some permits from government agencies. And only then it makes sense to apply to the municipal authorities for obtaining of the final approval.

   According to a similar scheme, the restaurant network is launched. In this case, every single restaurant must go through all the stages of approval and obtain the appropriate licenses and permits.

   Detailed instructions of the Food Control Department in relation to catering establishments can be found online on the web-site of the Municipality.

   Note, that individual permits will need to be obtained in case you want your visitors to smoke in your cafe or restaurant or you want hookah to be served.

   Documents Required for Getting a Permit for Smoking Areas would be the following: you will need to complete applications for obtaining a permit for your business, present it to the Public Health & Safety Department of Dubai Municipality, share the layout of the full floor plan of the premise and the layout of the ventilation and air conditioning system, share the capacity of each equipment for smoking and non-smoking areas, inform about the location of fresh air intakes orexhaust outlets. Permit shall be obtained after studying the application and checking the place by the concerned officers of the Public Health & Safety Department.

   All requirements for planning zones for smokers and non-smokers are described in the official document ADMINISTRATIVE RESOLUTION No. (92) "MANUAL OF REGULATING SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES," which is publicly available.

   In the event that a hookah is served in your restaurant, in addition to adherence to special conditions when planning room, you must obtain the appropriate license. The license must be obtained from the Department of Public Health and Safety. It includes the need to comply with conditions relevant to the ventilation and air conditioning system and compliance with the working hours set for this type of activity.

   If you decide to place a terrace near your restaurant or cafe, you will first need to obtain the approval of the Planning Department, as well as the Roads & Transportation Authority / Parks Department for the use of sidewalks.

   As you can see, the organization of restaurant business in the UAE requires a lot of investment and time to get all the permits and approvals. Therefore, it is so important to initially create the most detailed business plan and make sure that you have sufficient funds and working capital. Be patient and understand that the first three months can be the toughest regarding revenue. In 3 months, if you started correctly and worked with systems and procedures, you are on the way to moving into a stress-free period of "break-even," which means that your business will now have its own cash-flow. After six months of opening a well-planned food catering business, the company will start to move towards profitability.


    If you want to know more about Dubai freezone company formation, feel free to get in touch with our professional consultant team and we would be delighted to assist you and help you to compare Dubai freezone company setup costs and help you to find that free zone, which would suit your business needs the most.


 Disclaimer: Business Boutique is not affiliated with any particular government or legal entity. Business Boutique does not give professional legal advice nor any other professional advice subject to a public office in the government. This article merely sets out a simple and basic idea as to the reasons of Dubai freezone company setup and Dubai free zone company formation cost. Business Boutique in no way holds nor imposes any official governmental or legal authority and the article herein is only to be taken as a guide. All further governmental or legal issues should be addressed to the corresponding authorities.

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