A Guide on how to start an online business in the UAE

freelancer female starting her online business on her laptop

Encouraged by the pandemic, these days we can find, order and purchase pretty much anything we want online.

The UAE is particularly adept at offering residents and visitors everything they could possibly desire at the touch of a button. From online carwash services to new social media platforms, every day more entrepreneurs are starting up their own online business in the UAE.

Below are a few essential steps to launching a successful online brand, and how twofour54 can help make the process as easy and seamless as possible.

1. Decide what kind of online business you want to launch

As alluded to above, online businesses exist in every industry and they cover all kinds of specialisms. Some of the most common kinds of online brands include:


This is basically selling physical products online. So, if you want to launch a new retail store, you could look at building an ecommerce shop instead of going through the expense of renting a physical location.

Digital products

The opposite of ecommerce, digital products can cover ebooks, online degrees, design templates, photo editing tools and more virtual items and services.

Affiliate marketing

If you’re a skilled salesperson or marketer, you can create your own business selling other people’s products for them online. Generally structured on a commission basis, you get a nice reward with every sale.

Freelancing or consulting

If you boast an adaptable skill that is needed by lots of different companies, such as writing, design or photography, you might want to consider setting up as a freelancer and using the web to promote and advertise your services. Here at twofour54, we specialise in helping freelancers set up and we offer licenses in 60 media-related categories, including pre-production, production and post-production.

Once you’re up and running, we can also help you find work and form business partnerships within our vibrant community of over 600 local, regional and international media brands.

2. Identify any gaps in the market

The UAE is flooded with online businesses, so you need to make sure that yours stands out and offers something different.

Some ways of identifying the unique selling point for your online brand include:

Competitor research

Work out who your competitors are and study their website and social media platforms to work out exactly what they are offering and how that aligns with your business idea. You don’t want to copy them, but you can assess what they are doing wrong or write, and what their customers seem to want and need.

Market research

Once you have chosen your sector, look at any current trends in this area and what needs to be enhanced or changed.

Customer surveys

Don’t just guess what your customers want from your brand, ask people in person instead. Email, newsletter or social media surveys are a great way of gathering useful data and feedback. Just remember not to make them too long.

3. Build your brand and website

Your branding will help you immediately communicate your values, showcase who you are and attract customers.

Once you have defined your identity and business offering, you will need to create a:

  • Logo
  • Brand colour palette
  • Website
  • Business cards
  • Any other necessary branding elements (for example, packaging, marketing brochures, or t-shirts)
  • Social media platforms

Being an online brand, your website will naturally be the most important part of this process. This is where customers decide if your brand interests them and ultimately, if they want to buy from you or not.

It doesn’t take much to put someone off and prompt them to look elsewhere, so it’s important to make your website comprehensive, user friendly, totally on brand and suitable to be used on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

4. Legally form your business

In order to launch your brand and actually start making money, you first need to legally register as a business and get your license.

Fortunately, twofour54 offers an easy way for businesses related to media, entertainment and gaming in abu dhabi to get their trade license.

Whether you’re launching your company as an individual, with corporate shareholders or as a mixture of the two, we’ll help you set up as a Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ-LLC).

As well as your business license you will also need to set up a business bank account (after all, keeping your personal and business finances separate is very important) and work out what taxes you need to pay.

5. Develop your marketing strategy

Once you’re up and running, you need to start spreading the word to your customers that you are ready and waiting to serve them.

Some effective marketing techniques include:


This can be a great way to build buzz and interest. You can use Google AdWords to advertise your products when your customers run a relevant Google search, or Facebook or Instagram ads to target your competitors’ followers or those who fit your target audience.

Email marketing

Once you’ve gathered a database of customer emails, either through pop ups, newsletter subscriptions or competition entries, you can start directing people to your website through informative and incentivised marketing emails. These might include discount codes, special offers or round up emails detailing your latest products.


Look for businesses that aren’t direct competitors but target a similar audience, and see if you can team up and grow both your businesses. For instance, if you’re an online healthy meal prep business you might be able to partner with a local gym and offer their members a discount. This will help gain your more customers and improve the visibility of your brand.


As you can see, there are lots of things to think about when setting up an online business in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.For more information about twofour54’s business setup services. Please visit www.twofour54.com.

A Guide on how to start an online business in the UAE
A Guide on how to start an online business in the UAE
Learn how to start an online business by following these essential steps.