How to set up an Interior Design Company in the UAE

How to set up an Interior Design Company in the UAE

- Greg Hastings

What Business opportunities are available in Interior Design sector?

Growth can be predicted across both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, within the Design Industry, due to the booming commercial sector and a rising number of retail and residential projects across the country.

A report from INDEX, the Middle East & North Africa’s largest gathering for the design community, outlines that the GCC Interiors & Fit-Out market is currently valued at US$9.04bn and represents a growth of 4.42%.

Construction projects across the GCC were valued at $76.94bn in 2017 and with 16%, on average, of a constructions project’s value, spent on interior furnishings and fit outs, this sector offers rewarding prospects for those looking to enter the market.

The National states that Dubai has “approved the largest ever government budget for 2018 as it boosts spending on Expo 2020”, a universal exposition bringing together more than 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million visitors.

It is reported that Infrastructure spending will rise 46.5% as the emirate prepares for construction projects related to Expo 2020, representing 21% of total expenditure in 2018. The creation of new projects across the Emirates allow for more and more companies to take advantage of the business opportunities available, across the interiors and fit-out industry.

Further, in 2018, value-added tax will have been imposed in all six GCC markets, adding at least $20 billion to government incomes across the Arabian Gulf further boosting growth.

Many businesses use INDEX events to enter the market to meet and network with thousands of exhibitors from across the globe.

How to set up an Interiors Company in the UAE?

Design and Interior companies in the UAE can be set up either as a free zone entity or as an on-shore business, each one differing in its restrictions and benefits. It must be noted that the process can be relatively complex with certain permissible activities only.

In the free zones, the business activity related to Interior Designing and Furnishing is referred to as ‘Interior Design Consultancy’, wherein the permissible activities include landscaping, drawings and designs for residential commercial and retail buildings, hotels and offices. Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) Free Zone and Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) are the two well-known free zones in Dubai that offer such activity.

DCCA Free Zone offers both Interior Design Consultancy licence as well as Interior Designer permits, for freelancers who specialise in designing architectural interiors and furnishings.

Setting-up a company in the free zone means conducting businesses only within that free zone, with other free zones (as permissible) and/or abroad. Therefore, the sponsored employees of the free zone company are not allowed to work outside the premises, nor the company, to obtain any commercial agreement with clients in the UAE mainland.

The Interior Design Consultancy licence does not give the company the permit to obtain Customs code to import furniture or other products as part of its project’s concept. Therefore, appointment of a local agent/distributor shall be required.

All design companies looking to set up in the UAE will require a professional licence, Dubai Municipality Approval as well as a relevant degree in this sector.

Greg HastingsGreg Hastings is the Business Development Manager at PRO Partner Group. If you are looking for a consultation on how to acquire a Design Licence or for any other of PRO Partner Group’s comprehensive range of PRO, licencing and staffing services, Contact Greg directly on or call a member of the team on: T: +971 (0)4 456 1761 (Dubai) T: +971 (0) 2 448 5120 (Abu Dhabi)



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