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Hi Group,

My wife and I are planning on leaving London to move to Dubai to start a better life for our family. We are tired of our UK lifestyle and the money we make. The main idea is to get away from the rat race, crime, over crowding and the lack of opportunity. We want a better lifestyle and save money!

Ideally, I do not want to leave my current role in a software company (front office trading software) working as a business analyst for another role in a company in Dubai. However we will do this if it helps us get to Dubai whilst we establish a base. We really want to start a business which I can grow and build. I don't believe starting a new business is easier in Dubai, however currently it seems to us that there are more opportunities in Dubai and future growth. We have been visiting Dubai for the last 15 years and we normally stay are self catering apartments.

Both my wife and I plan to spend time building the business (business yet to be decided) and my daughters (8 & 14) will attend an English school following the UK curriculum. I plan to rent/buy a 3 bed room apartment near the school so that they do not have to commute across town. The total amount of money I plan to come with is around £100k- £125k. This money must help us start a business and pay for all expenses including food , rent, schools etc. until we have a positive income.

My question to the group, have any members here got any experience in starting a business in Dubai with a family? If so, do you feel that there are opportunities and growth in the Dubai market? I am yet to decide on a business however we wanted to start something in retail first and then once it covered our monthly expenses my wife run the retail business and I was planning on developing my own software and starting a specialist software company.

I would be extremely grateful if you can share your experiences with me. I plan to visit Dubai in May so that I can see the areas and schools. I would also like to take the opportunity to look at potential retail business.

Thank you very much.

Pete:juggle:
 

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Hi,
Welcome to the forum.
Dubai certainly has good potential for business - but dont underestimate the paperwork required when setting up a company here - along with the costs of setting up an onshore company.
Retail would not be my first choice here for a nunber of reasons.
A few local families dominate the retail sector here - they have very deep pockets and can afford the high rents and well stocked shops.
For me, the service sector is more interesting and has lower setup costs and lower overheads - you just need to find the right niche.
Housing rent, utilities and school fees (at a good school) will eat up around £60,000 of your stash, per year.
Best of luck
Steve
 

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I plan to visit Dubai in May so that I can see the areas and schools. I would also like to take the opportunity to look at potential retail business
not want to sound discouraging but... this is a bit of a horse before the cart situation...

i personally would first figure out what business and where and come up with projections on how long to break-even before i start thinking about schools...

the UAE is a land of opportunity but its also the land of high cost of living and an amazing failure rate for the do it yourself-ers...
 

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Ah. The kind of fantasy you have late at night whilst sitting at your computer after a long and weary day, especially if the weather has been dreary lately. The streets in Dubai are paved in gold, don't you know!

There's a 99% chance you will blow through all your savings in under two years and return to the UK broke and no better off.

See my comments in red bold below:

Hi Group,

My wife and I are planning on leaving London to move to Dubai to start a better life for our family. We are tired of our UK lifestyle and the money we make. The main idea is to get away from the rat race, crime, over crowding and the lack of opportunity. We want a better lifestyle and save money!

And people leave Dubai because of the high cost of living, congested roads and tiresome traffic and can't find jobs and haven't been able to save money.

Ideally, I do not want to leave my current role in a software company (front office trading software) working as a business analyst for another role in a company in Dubai. However we will do this if it helps us get to Dubai whilst we establish a base. We really want to start a business which I can grow and build. I don't believe starting a new business is easier in Dubai, however currently it seems to us that there are more opportunities in Dubai and future growth.

What business is this? The IT/software industry here seems dominated by South Asians who work for peanuts. Do you have contacts locally? Potential client database? You've never worked here so how will you get started? How long will it take to build up a viable business presence? It won't happen right away, let alone a few months or even a year.

We have been visiting Dubai for the last 15 years and we normally stay are self catering apartments.

Holidays in Dubai is not the same as living here. You come here when the weather is nice and everything seems great, but then you have the long, dreary and seemingly endless summers where it's insanely hot and dusty. You're not paying school fees and don't know how they go up every year. You haven't dipped into the unreliable and volatile and difficult rental market for a place to live. You haven't dealt with local bureaucracies in getting anything done.

Both my wife and I plan to spend time building the business (business yet to be decided) and my daughters (8 & 14) will attend an English school following the UK curriculum.

What business is this? You're already thinking of moving here without knowing what the business will be or if it's viable in the UAE market?

School fees for your daughters will run from 50-100K AED per year, with the better schools charging more. And fees go up every year.


I plan to rent/buy a 3 bed room apartment near the school so that they do not have to commute across town.

Easier said than done. School places are hard to find, especially at the better schools and it's not always possible to live close to the school. Some of the schools are in the middle of nowhere or in less desirable areas. Buying property in Dubai is always a gamble. Can you pay cash? Or take out a mortgage? Banks here won't loan money for a mortgage you're self employed without a proven history, and one way or another you're expected to put down a substantial deposit, much higher than in the UK.

Rents, by the way, are paid in 1-4 cheques for the year, with better properties in better areas more likely to ask 1-2 cheques. Then you have 5% deposit, 5% agent's fee (yes, you pay the agent, not the landlord), 2,000 deposit for utilities, more for internet/TV package, then furnishing and equipping the apartment or villa.


The total amount of money I plan to come with is around £100k- £125k. This money must help us start a business and pay for all expenses including food , rent, schools etc. until we have a positive income.

Don't be surprised if you spend it all in just one year. £125k is 681K AED at the moment, and that's about 56,000 AED/month. That's considered a decent if unremarkable package for a western expat family and they will spend most of it due to high housing and school fee costs, plus running two cars and feeding themselves and decent socialisation and 1-2 family trips a year. You can, of course, live more cheaply but the question is do you want to? By the way, what about health insurance? You'll have to pay for it yourself and it's not cheap. You'll also have to pay to sponsor your wife and children

My question to the group, have any members here got any experience in starting a business in Dubai with a family? If so, do you feel that there are opportunities and growth in the Dubai market? There are opportunities and growth everywhere, not just Dubai. The business environment here, especially for small businesses, is extremely volatile and prone to high failure rates, just like anywhere else. Plus, there are stringent liabilities if things should go wrong. A client doesn't pay on time, so your rent cheque bounces, who ends in jail? You do. Yes, that's right, there's no bankruptcy protection here.

I am yet to decide on a business however we wanted to start something in retail first and then once it covered our monthly expenses my wife run the retail business and I was planning on developing my own software and starting a specialist software company.Retail requires a local sponsor.

I would be extremely grateful if you can share your experiences with me. I plan to visit Dubai in May so that I can see the areas and schools. Jumping the gun. Focus on the business first. Worry about schools and areas to live later

I would also like to take the opportunity to look at potential retail business.

Thank you very much.

Pete:juggle:
 

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A freezone company will avoid a local sponsor, but they're an entirely different variety of hassle as well.

And as for schooling, don't be surprised if you're also asked to pay hefty debentures. Why? Because.
 

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It's a pretty grim yet realistic picture you sketched TallyHo :D

Pete, it seems like you had a lousy day at work yesterday and you're fed up...

I suggest you do one thing: find a job here and do it for 2 years. Get to understand the people, the culture, the market, the region and make some connections. Maybe the same job as you have in UK is wonderful in Dubai... Who knows?

In the meantime you'll find out if you want to stay and you have time to work out your business plan. Don't know come here without a job; it's a tough and competitive market (regardless of how much experience you have).

Better to 'test' this region first without blowing all your savings within the first year...

How about that?
 

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True.

But if he wants to trade within the UAE (restaurant, shop in a mall, etc cetera) he needs a sponsor. Free zones are for trade outside the UAE. There are a few exceptions but without knowing what his business plan is there's no point talking about them.

A freezone company will avoid a local sponsor, but they're an entirely different variety of hassle as well.

And as for schooling, don't be surprised if you're also asked to pay hefty debentures. Why? Because.
 

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...you had a lousy day at work yesterday and you're fed up...

I suggest you do one thing: find a job here and do it for 2 years. ...
which comes with its own challenges and warped expectations for people from the west... work culture is very different, bureaucracy, longer hours, its own set of frustrations...

more money, yes (maybe?)... but it has its own set of trade-offs...

back home, i used to bang my head against the wall at times because i was getting fed up with the horse crap i had to deal with...

here, i bang my head against the wall at times because i am getting fed up with the camel crap i have to deal with...

grass isn't always greener on the other side... its just a different shade of brown...
 

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Whilst I can understand where the above are coming from, what would the world be without people willing to go the extra mile that have a fervent belief in themselves.

Pete, all i would suggest is that you must be prepared for the worst, ie things don't happen like you expect (they won't), it'll all take 3x as long as you expect (it will), the returns, if succesful, will be 5x what you expect (they will).

Good luck.
 

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which comes with its own challenges and warped expectations for people from the west... work culture is very different, bureaucracy, longer hours, its own set of frustrations...

more money, yes (maybe?)... but it has its own set of trade-offs...

back home, i used to bang my head against the wall at times because i was getting fed up with the horse crap i had to deal with...

here, i bang my head against the wall at times because i am getting fed up with the camel crap i have to deal with...

grass isn't always greener on the other side... its just a different shade of brown...
Personally, I do think the grass is greener here than it would be at home. Knowing that my wife can safely get around on her own and waking up every day to the sun shining through our windows are the two main reasons we won't go back. Money is not the most important for us, but it is definitely a nice addition.

Having said that, I agree with the camel crap, but I am happy to deal with all of that as long as my wife is safe and happy and the sun shines.
 

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...but I am happy to deal with all of that as long as...
which kinda was my point... its all trade-off's...

people sometimes, when they are frustrated, tend to un-knowingly under-emphasize the challenges and over-simplify the transition by focusing on things in the wrong order...

its like someone buying a pack of condoms before they hit puberty... you admire their spirit, but snicker knowing they are about to break out into pimples thus effectively making them celibate for the near future...

now if they were to instead invest their condom money into some good acne cream... that's a much more practical plan...
 

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its like someone buying a pack of condoms before they hit puberty... you admire their spirit, but snicker knowing they are about to break out into pimples thus effectively making them celibate for the near future...
What with this and a previous thread ad-hoc lurkers will think we all have a fixation on virgins.
 

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I suggest you do one thing: find a job here and do it for 2 years. Get to understand the people, the culture, the market, the region and make some connections.
I can't echo this enough.

To come to Dubai with a job in hand is a baptism of fire for just about all western expats. Even if you're c-suite and have people handling the mundane stuff, it still throws many challenges in your face.

To come to Dubai inexperienced, but with a business plan is a challenge beyond most mortals. "Doing the good business" will ultimately get you in the end, either upfront or blindsided. For a micro SME, like your proposing, you'll almost certainly need a secure, secondary income that isn't your savings.

To come to Dubai inexperienced and business idea on the back of a napkin? If you can pull that off, then you've got the skills to give Warren Buffet and Bill Gates a run for their money. Which would then beg the question, why come to Dubai to start up a small SME?

Hope this helps
 
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