How to Launch a Successful Startup in the UAE

Diana Bell-Heather   |   11 - 07 - 2018

business startup dubai uae

Anna Skigin.


Dubai is one of the best places for entrepreneurs to follow their passion and start a business. Anna Skigin is one of those risk takers who is the Founder and CEO of Frank Porter – a hassle-free Airbnb Management company.


Frank Porter maximises returns for the owners, by renting out properties short-term via platforms such as Airbnb and But setting up a start-up in UAE has some hurdles, however she believes in persistence.


“When we arrived in Dubai to launch our Airbnb Management company Frank Porter – all we had was an idea and a defined market. From that point – it was a journey figuring out what we needed to get from an idea to a working business,” she says.


Below, Skigin shares her experience and advice for anyone else who is looking to turn their dream into reality.


business startup dubai uae

DIFC Limestone House.



Unlike the UK, where I had launched a business before – every business in the UAE needs to be licensed. Which license you need, however, is the big question. Does your business need to be on-shore, or can you function out of a freezone? What is required by your License? These are some of the questions you must ask yourself when figuring out exactly which license you need.


We spoke to many people prior to deciding on our structure. Don’t ever go with the first advice, always seek multiple opinions before you take action. Besides saving you money, it is very difficult later to change your structure in the UAE if it wasn’t done properly in the beginning. A little more time spent is one less headache later.


Office Space

For many businesses, office space is a requirement. This is a huge difference from Europe where start-ups function out of your house for the first year at least.


Where a flexi-desk is not an option, you need to consider your costs. Everyone wants an office space with Marina Views,  but does that work for your CAPX? Look for options that are chiller-free. If clients come to you, be sure to find a building with easy parking. If you come to your clients, build an office around your needs.


business startup dubai uae

DIFC Limestone House.



Setting up the right bank account is vital in a start-up. Firstly, if you don’t have a track record in the UAE and are a start-up, prepare to sweat. Banks generally do not have friendly options for startups. The right bank depends on your business. Do you make many transfers? Choose a bank with the lowest fees. Do you do everything online? Make sure online banking is free. Do you hold many currencies? Check your minimum balance requirements for each. As with everything – don’t settle on who your best friend banks with. Always do your homework and choose the option that works for your business.



Hiring is tough everywhere, but in the UAE it comes with an extra hurdle. As most people are expats, as a business you need to sponsor your employees. So hiring needs to be weighed carefully.


For Frank Porter we always make sure that we hire only who we need and for the role that is available. This means being very specific in our demands and requirements. I would rather do the job myself, then hire the wrong person. Because jobs are so transitional in the UAE, it is also important to create a sense of belonging in your company.


By definition, a startup cannot be successful yet. However, with the right structures in place, you can mitigate your risk considerably.


Now go forth, and conquer.


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