5 profitable business ideas in the UAE

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Start a winning business in the United Arab Emirates with one of these ideas.

1. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an accessible ecommerce retail business model. It works well for the UAE given the high percentage of Emiratis who buy online. Euromonitor reported in 2021 that one-third of UAE citizens purchased goods online at least once a week using their smartphone. This places the number of online shoppers above the global average.

How does dropshipping work?

Dropshipping only requires creating an ecommerce website (or selling on an online marketplace), finding a reputable dropshipping supplier, and developing a marketing plan. Retail businesses normally need to purchase an inventory of stock, rent a warehouse for storage, develop a system to ship the goods, and spend money on packaging and staffing.

Dropshipping eliminates all this. Instead, the dropshipping supplier will store the goods in their warehouses, and pack and ship the orders you sell directly to your customers.

Why is dropshipping profitable?

  • Low start-up costs
  • Low running costs
  • Short time to set up
  • Relatively low-risk business idea
  • More time dedicated to marketing and advertising
  • Not limited to your geographical location
  • Easy to switch product niches
  • 2. Ecommerce

    Ecommerce is the business of selling products or services online. Unlike dropshipping, it involves creating your own digital product or sourcing stock that you're responsible for getting to your customers.

    According to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the UAE is a hotbed for online business. By 2026, UAE retail sales in ecommerce are expected to reach 12.6% of total market sales. Smaller companies also have excellent market opportunities. In 2021, local ecommerce websites made up 73% of total UAE retail sales.

    What type of ecommerce business could I start?

  • Reselling designer vintage fashion
  • Personalised gifts
  • Gym clothing
  • Sustainable products
  • Online mentoring
  • Luxury car rental
  • Why set up an ecommerce business in the UAE?

  • Ecommerce is an increasing market
  • Many business opportunities to pursue
  • The UAE has excellent logistics to deliver products
  • Fast broadband speed and connectivity
  • 3. Digital marketing and advertising

    The UAE, especially Dubai, has accelerated digital adoption. McKinsey reports that 99% of the UAE population had internet access in 2022. The same report found that more than 50% of Emirati consumers expect to increase digital spending. This means more business for online marketing and advertising agencies.

    How does digital marketing and advertising work?

    Digital marketing is the strategy and organisation of promoting a business or product online. Digital advertising is the purchase of paid adverts to publicise a business or product online.

    Why is digital marketing and advertising profitable?

  • Online consumerism is increasing
  • Most businesses want an online presence
  • Dubai is a global business hub with a need for digital marketing
  • Low-cost to set up
  • 4. Event management

    The value of the events market in the Middle East and Africa is set to grow from USD 54 billion in 2022 to USD 77 billion in 2028, according to data from The Insight Partners. Dubai hosts major events such as the Dubai Desert Classic (European golf tournament), Dubai International Jazz Festival, Dubai Food Festival, GITEX (global tech show), and Dubai Design Week.

    What types of event management are there?

  • Corporate: exhibitions, conferences, meetings
  • Private: weddings, birthdays, parties
  • Sports: triathlons, marathons, cycling
  • Education: university open days, career fairs
  • Entertainment: music concerts, festivals, art
  • How does event management work?

    Event management businesses organise events by sourcing a venue, finding suppliers, and handling logistics. Due to the grand scale of events in the UAE and demand in the market, event management is an attractive business idea.

    Why set up an events company in the UAE?

  • Dubai is a popular event destination
  • Private and corporate clients usually have higher budgets
  • Low start-up costs as a wedding planner or venue-finder
  • A multitude of high-quality photographers, caterers, decorators, hotels, and other suppliers are available
  • 5. Tour group organiser

    Travel and tourism is a big market in the UAE. Statista projects revenue in this industry will reach USD 1,285 million in 2023 with an annual growth rate of 5.12% until 2027. Additionally, an Arabian Business article cited that tourism spending in 2022 increased by 70%. Hotels, package holidays, and holiday rentals make the most revenue.

    What are some tourism business ideas for the UAE?

  • Tour group organiser
  • Corporate team building
  • Travel agency
  • Water sports rental company
  • Desert glamping company
  • Why set up a tourism business in the UAE?

  • Dubai is one of the most famous cities in the world to visit
  • World-class hotels and holiday rentals
  • Beautiful beaches, desert dunes, and hot temperatures
  • A fusion of Middle Eastern culture and international influence
  • Start ecommerce business with dropshippingXL

    Take a share of the UAE ecommerce market. Dutch-born vidaXL is an international online giant that offers an attractive dropshipping programme, dropshippingXL. To access more than 90,000 high quality products, 24/7 business support, and no cancellation fees, sign up to dropshippingXL.

    Related articles

  • Why should you start a drophipping business in the UAE
  • How to start a dropshipping business in the UAE: A complete guide
  • 16 most-popular ecommerce stores in the UAE in 2023
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