Businesses you can start in the UAE without investment

group of business owners meeting in Dubai UAE

7 businesses you can start in the UAE without investment

The UAE is a hotbed of business ideas. It seems there is no industry here that is not in the ascendance. Naturally, this attracts entrepreneurs from around the world, looking to take advantage of the country’s thriving economy and supportive business environment.

For many other would-be entrepreneurs, this dream of launching a business in the UAE remains exactly that – a dream. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many businesses that can be started in the Emirates with minimal paperwork and – most importantly of all – little to no investment.

To help you turn your entrepreneurial dreams into a reality, here are seven businesses you can start in the UAE without investment.

Low cost business ideas in Dubai, UAE

Pet sitting

An increasing number of UAE residents now own pets. And with a nation made up largely of expat workers, those pets need looking after while their humans are at work. As a professional pet sitter, you simply travel to the home of the owner to care for the pet while they are away – because they are at work, on holiday, or on a business trip.

While the owner is away you are responsible for feeding, walking, and caring for the pet. A service for which you can charge a fee somewhere in the region of AED 80 per home visit (usually lasting around 30 minutes.)

A service for which you can charge a fee somewhere in the region of AED 80 per home visit (usually lasting around 30 minutes.)  

The best part of setting up a pet sitting business is that is requires almost no capital. You simply need to have a love of animals and the ability to travel. As for marketing costs, posting ads for your services is free in many classifieds as well as on social media.

Tutoring / Instruction

If you already have a skill that someone else might want to learn, you are likely sitting on a great low-cost business idea. You could teach anything – an instrument, a language, martial arts, illustration, crafts, or an academic subject such as Maths, English, or Science.

Again, little, if any, investment is required here. Providing you already have the knowledge, skills and, where necessary, the qualifications, you are good to go. When it comes to promoting your services, there are many dedicated websites such as that allow you to post ads for a small commission.

Man tutoring a student


As with tutoring, consulting is a business service that you may already be skilled enough to do. If that’s the case then you’ll need minimal investment to get started – get your license, build a website, perhaps print a few business cards and you’re ready to go.

What’s more, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need years and years of experience to become a great business consultant. Think about what you have done so far in your career: Have you guided a business through the startup stage? Or overseen a merger or major diversification? Or perhaps your experience is specific to HR, marketing or finance. In any case, if you have experience in business that a startup could learn from, there is almost certainly a market for your advice.

Cleaning Services

Residential house cleaning is no longer a service only available to the wealthy. In the modern age, the busy UAE expat is time-poor and often cash rich – so why spend time cleaning your home when you can pay for someone else to do it?

Again, start-up costs here are minimal. All you need is a good work ethic and some basic cleaning supplies. Offer your services on a weekly or monthly basis and you can very quickly build up recurring income. As you grow over time, you even expand to offering commercial cleaning allowing you to charge more for your services.

Build websites

All of the business ideas on this list have one thing in common – each will need a website to show off their services. That presents a golden opportunity to any entrepreneur with the skill to build websites – particularly in Dubai where approximately 20,000 new business licenses are issued every year.

Even if you’re not a whizz in web design, fear not. Modern web building tools and templates such as WordPress can be learned easily if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. It’s possible to gain the skills needed to get started in no time at all, then over time, should you wish, you can gradually expand your skillset to include non-template sites.

Social media expert

There are very few businesses left in existence that do not have a social media presence. This is understandable as it is often the first place a consumer will go to research a new business or service that they hear of. However, many small businesses simply don’t have the time or resources – and often the skills – to run a successful social media feed. This has led to a rise in freelance social media experts who, for a fee, manage social media accounts on behalf of businesses.

Start up costs here, outside of licensing, are practically zero. You need a laptop and an internet connection – something most people in the UAE already have.

Start up costs here, outside of licensing, are practically zero. You need a laptop and an internet connection – something most people in the UAE already have.

E-commerce store

E-commerce is a huge market – and it’s still growing. In their 2015 review of the GCC retail market, Alpen Capital reported that online retailing accounted for just 1% of total retail sales. That’s an enormous, potentially untapped market. And it’s easy to tap into. Setting up with an e-commerce license in the UAE is both easy and affordable. It’s even possible to run your business from outside the Emirates if you wish.

What’s more, it’s easy to start small and grow. You have the option to start from your own home before progressing to office space or even a warehouse facility as your business gets bigger. As for the required equipment, all you need is a laptop, the internet and something to sell!

How to start a business in Dubai with no money

Perhaps we shouldn’t say ‘How to start a business in Dubai with no money’ but rather ‘How to start a business in Dubai with (almost) no money’. The truth is, any of these businesses will need a little investment to get off the ground. But it really doesn’t have to be a lot.

All of the business ideas above require minimal (if any) equipment or overheads so the only real upfront cost for any of them will be licensing – which is incredibly affordable in the UAE. Exactly how much this costs will depend on the type of setup that you opt for.

One option is to get started in a free zone. Here, you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of AED 10,000-15,000 for a business license. Alternatively you can apply for your license directly to the Department of Economic Development. Again, you should expect to pay in the region of AED 15,000.

The setup that’s right for you will depend on the size and nature of your business. A company formation specialist can work with you to advise on the best way to establish your business. Formation experts can even manage your business license and visa application for you, should you wish.