Establishing a healthcare business in Dubai

Establishing a healthcare business in Dubai

- Greg Hastings

With ever-increasing population levels, life expectancy, and a diverse economy still comfortably outperforming more mature markets, the UAE healthcare market is sure to benefit from continued growth for the foreseeable future. Indeed, in 2016, Alpen Capital predicted growth of 12.7% per annum in the years leading to 2020 – growth significantly higher than the predicted market average. 2016 saw the launch of the Dubai Healthcare Experience; a group of medical practitioners, hospitals, and logistics providers with plans to increase medical tourism numbers to nearly 700,000 per year by 2021, whilst Government is encouraging upgraded facilities enhanced waiting times and service levels in order to save some of the estimated $5bn spent annually on sending citizens abroad for treatment.

As such, opportunities exist for companies looking to construct and operate institutions ranging from “business class” full-service hospitals and specialist facilities, to outpatient services and home healthcare alternatives; for those looking to supply equipment to these facilities and keep inventory in the region, and just as importantly there is increasing demand for those businesses with performance improvement/enhancement offerings to ensure greater patient satisfaction.

In order to register an entity and become a part of this growth it is of course critical to ensure your business is incorporated correctly. This involves identifying the target market for your business, and obtaining the necessary approvals to conduct business. Whilst all businesses will be overseen by the Ministry of Health, in Dubai the following incorporation options and regulatory bodies are available:


Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) Freezone was established in 2002 to meet demand for healthcare, with a view to becoming the regional hub and a global leader in healthcare provision.

Benefits of Incorporating in DHCC are:

  • 100% Foreign ownership
  • No income or corporate taxes for fifty years
  • No customs duties for goods or services
  • A range of tailored real estate solutions
  • An ideal base to collaborate with others working in your field


Incorporating your business onshore allows you to locate your business anywhere in the Emirate of Dubai, and this can have several advantages – more convenient transport links, more affordable Real Estate, proximity to your client base being just 3. To incorporate an entity onshore, you will need approval to carry out business from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). The incorporation and approval process is broadly as follows:

1. Research the Company Structure

Depending on the precise nature of your business, it will be appropriate to set up either as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) which will require a mimimum 51% Emirati shareholder, a Branch of a Foreign Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Parent Company, or a Sole Establishment, where full liability is held by the individual. In the case of a Foreign Branch or Sole Establishment, an Emirati National Service Agent (NSA) is required.

2. Reserve the Company Trade Name

This is to be done via the Department of Economic Development (DED). Typically for foreign businesses investing in Dubai the name will be that of the Parent Company

3. Locate suitable Real Estate

Whether acquiring land via the Government or a local party, or selecting a purpose built premises, it is important at this stage to identify where you will locate your business

4. Apply for DED Initial Approval

At this stage you are required to identify the Shareholders and General Manager of the entity. Forms will be submitted to the DED and you will be required to provide passport copies of all concerned individuals, and constitutional documents for corporate shareholders.

5. Apply for DHA Initial Approval

Once the application to incorporate the business is underway, an investor will need to approach the DHA for approval to perform the required business activity. The DHA approval process will change dependent on the nature of the business you wish to undertake, however they will look for feasibility studies and proof of expertise.

6. Execute Incorporation documents

In the UAE it is necessary to execute a company’s constitutional documents in front of a Notary Public. It is required that the Emirati partner or appointed representative, and Foreign partner or appointed representative, be present at this signing. Your appointed Legal Counsel or PRO Partner Group can advise on the documents required to conclude this process.

7. Final Approval from DHA

Following execution of the Incorporation documents the DHA are required to inspect your facility to ensure compliance with their regulations. Again, the requirements will change dependant on the nature of your entity and will be as discussed in the initial application

8. Issuance of licenses – DED and DHA

Once all approvals have been granted your business licenses can be issued and the process of onboarding staff and operating your business can begin.

PRO Partner Group help many businesses set up in the UAE and can provide invaluable advice and expertise when navigating the business environment. For assistance with starting a healthcare business in the UAE, or expanding a global company, contact us for further information.

If you would like to speak with Greg from the PRO Partner Group or one of the team please contact: +971(0)4 456 1761 or email

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