How to set up a digital marketing company in the UAE, Abu Dhabi or Dubai
The UAE is one of the most digitally friendly countries in the world. As its economy has grown, it has embraced digital media innovation every step of the way.
During the last 20 years, the numerous digital transformation initiatives it has adopted have transformed both the business world and every aspect of daily life.
The major emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are now highly competitive markets for international business and this has driven demand for skilled digital marketers and digital marketing companies and agencies to assist UAE businesses to build a good reputation and gain a strong position in their respective industries.
Considering the continued growth in the UAE business environment, there is huge scope for entrepreneurs and companies with digital marketing expertise to expand into the UAE market.
Why start a digital marketing business in the UAE?
The benefits of starting a digital marketing business are also true of setting up your own business in any field.
- It enables you to have greater freedom and flexibility with your working hours.
- It offers the potential for higher earnings than a position as an employee in a larger company.
- It gives you full control of all business decisions and the freedom to decide how the company should evolve.
- As a business owner involved in all business functions, there are more learning opportunities than as an employee in a large organisation.
In the UAE in particular there is such a premium placed on having a strong social media presence that demand for skilled digital marketers, and companies with expertise in social media, is incredibly high.
How do I build a digital marketing agency from the ground up?
Where do your skills lie?
One of the very first things to consider is what services you can offer. There are many aspects to digital marketing, and it is a very competitive market, so you should decide where your strengths lie and what you can do better than others.
Are you an excellent writer with the ability to write engaging copy in a wide variety of formats?
Then perhaps you should focus on content writing. This encompasses many different formats such as blog writing, press releases, e-books, whitepapers, website copy, how to guides, social media posts and scriptwriting to name just a few.
Do you have excellent analytics, technical and programming skills? Maybe you should direct your efforts towards providing SEO services.
Are your strengths visual design, user experience (UX) and excellent IT skills? Then website design could be for you.
Whatever you decide, digital marketing is a fast moving and constantly evolving industry so you should always be looking to add to your skill set to remain relevant and keep up to date.
Research your target market and your competitors
It’s important to know if there’s an audience for your service and exactly what it is they require. Market research gives you insights into your target market’s needs and how you can deliver exactly what they are looking for.
There are a number of audience research tools on the market such as Google Ads, Brandwatch and Facebook Audience Insight Tool that allow you to gather information and gain a clearer picture of your customer profile.
You could also engage in social listening. This involves observing live social conversations and things like hashtags, keywords and tags on social media platforms to gain insights into your audience and ultimately enable you to better understand the needs of your customers.
It’s also imperative to research other companies in the same market space that could be considered your competitors. This will allow you to position your brand in a unique light and stay ahead of the competition.
If you intend to help businesses improve their online presence, then it stands to reason that you should have strong social media visibility and a professional website yourself.
Your website can include information about you, contact details, your portfolio, testimonials and links to your social media accounts.
A blog is also a great way to market your business and provide useful information and if you keep it updated with fresh and relevant content, you may begin to rank higher on Google searches which will make it much easier for prospective customers to find you.
You should also invest time into being active on a variety of social media platforms. This can really build awareness of your company and elevate your brand.
You can do this in several different ways. For instance
- Sharing and tweeting your blog posts
- Re-tweeting useful information and sharing other people’s blog posts
- Being active on Facebook groups relating to your field
- Guest posting on other websites.
- Create an email newsletter
- Blog regularly
All of these things will help to grow your online reputation and brand personality and ultimately generate more income.
An overview of the process for setting up a Digital Marketing company in Mainland UAE
Firstly, it is necessary to Register the Trade Name and obtain the Initial Approval with the Department of Economic Development (DED) in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Guidelines on registering a Trade Name with the DED in the UAE can be found in our other articles below
Once the Trade Name has been registered and initial approval obtained then the company will need to undertake the following steps to obtain the digital marketing trade licence:
- Trade Name Reservation with DED
- Initial Approval from DED
- Prepare any shareholder documents required – if the shareholder is a company – Board Resolution and POA
- Draft and Notarise the company incorporation documents – MOA and any Shareholder Agreement and GM POA
- Rent a commercial space – minimum of 14sqm – to obtain municipality Tawtheeq (Abu Dhabi) or Ejari (Dubai)
- Undertake any additional regulatory approvals – if required for the specific activities on the licence
- Return to the DED to obtain the final company Trade Licence
- Register the LLC with UAE Ministry of Labour, Immigration and eChannel – to allow the company to issue visas and hire staff
This process for the formation of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the mainland UAE. The digital marketing company could also set up as a Mainland Foreign Branch, a Sole Establishment or in any of the various Freezones in the UAE. For more information on the best structure and location to set up your digital marketing company in the UAE please contact PRO Partner Group on the details below.
What costs are involved to set up a digital marketing agency in the UAE?
There are various costs, including the following:
- License fees – DED, Ministry of Economy and Chamber of Commerce – fees will vary based on location and activity type
- PRO services to set up the company – it is always advisable to seek professional advice to assist with the setup documentation and the company formation process
- Disbursement costs – document drafting, sign boards, legal translations, notary costs, company stamps, any foreign document attestation and staff manager qualification attestations
- Local sponsor fees – the LLC will require a local partner to hold 51% of the share, this can be done using a nominee shareholder, there will normally be an annual fee associated
- Legal fees – legal document drafting and obtain legal advice on the structure of the company and shareholder agreements, and nominee agreements
- Commercial lease for premises – the LLC will need to rent a physical space to obtain the licence, pricing varies depending on location, size etc
- Visas for employees – all staff will need to obtain a work permit and resident visa against the LLC. The overall cost of a 2 year UAE employment visa is around AED 7500.
- Health Insurance must be provided by the company to their staff – insurance costs with vary depending on age, coverage and individual situation
How can PRO Partner Group help?
We can help you decide which is the best licence for your business, process all work visas and other necessary documentation and help you through all other aspects of your company setup. PRO Partner Group can also act as nominee shareholder (51%) in the LLC if required, we will provide specific protections to the foreign shareholder, to ensure they have effective 100% control and allow the shares to be passed back at no cost to the 49% in the event that the LLC can be 100% owned in the future in line with potential changes to commercial companies law in UAE.
If you need guidance on setting up a digital marketing agency in the UAE or any other related company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman or Qatar, then please do get in touch with us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai or +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.