Guide: How to Open a restaurant in Dubai free zone and across the UAE
Over the last few years, Dubai became home to more than 200 different nationalities. Likewise, thousands of tourists choose the Golden City as their vacation getaway every year. Therefore, opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone is the latest trend every chef and food lover entrepreneur should follow to thrive in the UAE.
In this article, you will discover why opening a restaurant in Dubai free zone and across the UAE is a great investment idea for master chefs, entrepreneurs, and food franchises along with the different factors to consider before opening a food establishment in the UAE. You will also learn:
- Why should you open a restaurant in Dubai?
- Can you open a restaurant in any Dubai jurisdiction?
- Requirements for opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone
- Process for opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone
- What documents will you need for opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone?
- Extra requirements to consider
- How much will it cost to open a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone?
- How can we help you open a restaurant in Dubai and across the UAE?
1. Why should you open a restaurant in Dubai?
Dubai is a touristic and investment hub. It is a place filled with culture, leisure, and entertainment.
All around Dubai and across the UAE, top executives, entrepreneurs, and tourists (local and foreign) seek places to have meetings, share with their families, or try foods from local and foreign cultures. Therefore, master chefs and young cooking talents have the possibility to establish a successful business within any area of cuisine.
On the other hand, Dubai has emerged as a cradle for culinary experimentation. To clarify, there is a great diversity of flavors and culinary traditions from newcomers who settle in Dubai. That is why opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone is among the top 10 business ideas to start a business in Dubai UAE.
It is an opportunity for increasing your profits and making a name for yourself in the gastronomic Emirati world. That is to say, the chances of failure are minimal. A large number of foreign residents and visitors opens the door to culinary creativity and investment which helps both small and large food establishments safely succeed in the UAE.
2. Can you open a restaurant in any Dubai jurisdiction?
Even though opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone has multiple benefits, establishing a restaurant in Dubai has its own rules and restrictions, starting with location. To sum up, there are two possible options for opening a restaurant in Dubai: Dubai Mainland and Dubai Free Zone.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to open a restaurant in any place in Dubai. Firstly, it is not allowed in the industrial Free Zones of Dubai. However, it is permitted to open a restaurant in a Dubai Free zone that serves as a residential unit.
Therefore, among the jurisdictions that grant a restaurant license are:
On the other hand, Dubai Mainland has its own rules for restaurant setup however it can be an easier option. Since Dubai Mainland holds more independence and flexibility, it is the investment and financial center chosen by many looking-forward entrepreneurs to establish their food businesses.
2.1 Mainland vs. Free Zone
However, there is a major difference between opening a restaurant in Dubai mainland and a free zone. In the case of the mainland, it is essential to obtain a permit from the Department of Economic Development (DED) in order to work in any Dubai territory. That is to say, the restaurant can open anywhere on the mainland. This includes branches and franchises.
Nevertheless, in Dubai, Free Zones restaurant owners are only allowed to work under the perimeters of the Free Zone. To clarify, food establishments cannot operate out of the jurisdiction’s borders where they have decided to set up initially.
3. Requirements for Opening a Restaurant in Dubai Free Zone
Opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone is a quick, cost-effective process. The list of requirements is not long and the papers needed are few. However, costs and required documents may vary according to the jurisdiction where you choose to open your business
In general terms, the main steps you should follow are:
- Choosing an available Trade Name
- Get a local sponsor
- Obtaining a Tenancy Contract
- Having an Ejari (rented spaces)
- Designing the interior of the restaurant according to the Food and Safety Department standards
- Submitting required papers to the Department of Economic Development (DED)
- Get a valid NOC from the Food Safety Department
- Obtaining Dubai Municipality approval
4. Process for opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone
For opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone successfully and smoothly, the steps you must follow are:
Step 1: Choosing a jurisdiction suitable to your needs
Firstly, you should spend a little time researching each available Free Zone’s different benefits for setting up a restaurant. Dubai Silicon Oasis, the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), and Dubai Multi Commodity Center (DMCC) provide restaurant owners with slightly different benefits, activities and requirements. Secondly, you just have to find the right one for your business plan.
Step 2: Trade license
To operate freely, it is essential that restaurant owners obtain a trade license from the Dubai Economic Development (DED) or apply for one in one of the free zones. The license allows a foreigner to have 100% business ownership.
This license can be new or renewed.
Step 3: Food and other permits
In this next step, restaurant owners must obtain a food license from the Food Safety Department to ensure that the facility meets all Food Code standards and abides by the department’s rules above all.
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In addition to the Food License, the restaurant will need other special permits such as food transportation, food truck operation, and a special permit to handle and serve pork on the premises.
Step 4: Submission of Layout/Blueprint
Another important step in opening a restaurant in the Dubai Free Zone is to submit a sketch or floor plan of the premises so that the Food Control Department can review it and give its approval in case reconstruction, renovation, or construction is required.
The plan must contain details of the layout and spaces for cooking, cleaning, food storage, and seating. Another requirement is:
- Areas intended for bathing and sanitary facilities.
- The layout of open spaces
- Location of windows, doors, and ventilation systems
- Equipment layout
- Details of inlets and outlets
- Sink and dishwasher distribution
Step 5: Asking for a site/location
This requirement is to preserve the safety of food, staff, and clientele. That is to say, the restaurant must have a minimum distance of 30 meters from any source of contamination, dumpsters, or incompatible processing facilities.
Step 6: Submit application forms and required documents
Finally, you must submit your fully formed application. In addition, provide a copy of:
- Business license
- Floor plans of the restaurant
- Units and storage areas
Step 7: Open a bank account
To open a restaurant in the Dubai Free Zone, it is essential to have a domestic bank account. This way you will be able to regulate the cash flow and keep track of the restaurant’s assets, acquisitions, and expenses.
5. What documents will you need for opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone?
If you are opening a restaurant in Dubai Free zone, the papers needed to obtain the necessary licenses and permits are few. However, required documents may vary according to the Free Zone. Consequently, the general documents are:
- Restaurant layout/blueprint (if needed)
- Trade license copy
- Investor’s passport copy
- Investor’s visa copy
- Color passport-sized photo
- Detailed business plan
- Additional permits like liquor, pork manipulation
- Non Objection Certificate (NOC)
- Tenancy agreement form
- Proof of payment
6. Extra requirements to consider
There are some extra requirements you should consider when opening a restaurant. Including location, space distribution, and opting for a residential visa to be able to supervise your restaurant personally.
In the case of location and space distribution, you must take into account:
- The kitchen area should be 300 ft.
- Washing instruments must have hot and cold water
- The kitchen tandoor should be at least 380 ft.
- The chimney should be at least two meters highest than the closet building
- There must be different facilities for dry, chilled, and frozen food
- Drainage pipe must be at least two inches away from the walls
On the other hand, if you are interested in opening the restaurant and running it personally, the steps you should follow are:
6.1 Following the Food Code
If you are thinking about opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone, it is essential you follow the Food Code. It is the general law regarding the handling, hygiene, and preparation of food. Therefore, if a restaurant wishes to be successful in Dubai Free Zone and across the UAE.
It is vital that restaurants adhere to these guidelines in order to properly distribute ventilation, clean rooms, and ensure that everything is in order so as not to have problems with the local authorities.
7. How much will it cost to open a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone?
Opening a restaurant in Dubai free zone is a cost-effective process. You must create a budget that fits the needs of planning, development, and corresponding fees. You should also take into consideration all the licenses and permits you require. However, restaurant business setup costs around AED 15,000.
Remember that the price will depend on the Free Zone where you decide to establish your restaurant. In general terms, the costs to consider are:
- Full-Service restaurant: This will depend on the space distribution. That is to say, the amount of space to be used for dining, kitchen, and storage. It may vary from AED 300,00 to AED 500,000
- Delivery: If you want to open a delivery restaurant, it can be more cost-effective. You will only need the cooking area and the necessary utensils. It will be between AED 100,00 to AED 160,000.
8. How can we help you open a restaurant in Dubai and across the UAE?
In conclusion, opening a restaurant in Dubai Free Zone is a great investment option to introduce you to the thriving food, tourism, and venture market. Now you know better the complete process and requirements, at Connect Zone we are ready to help you establish your restaurant in Dubai Free Zone and across the UAE.
In Connect Zone we count on an expert team to help achieve all your professional goals in the UAE. To clarify, our staff is prepared to assist you during restaurant set up in a quick, safe, effective way at the best price. From providing local partners service to Pro services,
We ensure 24/7 support during business setup. Moreover, we offer a full document clearing service so your restaurant has all its papers and are legally ordered before and after submit in them.
Would you like to contact Connect Zone to help you open Dubai free zone and across the UAE? In case you have any questions, contact us on +971 43 316 688. Moreover, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will talk to one of our representatives who will answer your questions.
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