How to Start a Food and Beverage Business in Dubai

How to Start a Food and Beverage Business in Dubai


The food & beverages sector in Dubai is estimated to be worth AED 142 billion. It is one the most rapidly growing sectors in the Middle East, with an average growth rate of 71.6% every year. Dubai is home to expatriates from 200 countries around the world, so you would find that there is demand for just about every time of cuisine. There are takers for just about every kind of ambience, so you could start a cafe, a family restaurant, a fine dining establishment, a fast food outlet, or any other.

How to Open a Food & Beverage Establishment in Dubai

The first step is to establish a company with the help of someone well-versed in matters of business setup in Dubai. It is to be noted that you can have a different name for your F&B establishment than the company name. For example, you could start a company by the name of Asian Hospitality and name your restaurant or cafe as The Hot Grill. A business setup consultant can run a search to see if the name you have in mind is available, as you cannot register a company with a name that has already been registered.

There are rules pertaining to company nomenclature in the United Arab Emirates. You cannot include religious terms in the name of your company. The names of countries and cities are also forbidden from being a part of the company name, although nationalities and the names of geographical regions are permitted. A first name is allowed to be part of the trade name only if it is the first name of one of the shareholders. Terms like ‘Global’ and ‘International’ cannot be the first part of the company’s trade name.

A business setup consultant can help your draw up the company formation documents, which may be better known in your country as Memorandum of Association in case there is only one owner for the company. The company formation documents may alternatively be known as Articles of Association if there are multiple owners for the company. Irrespective of the nomenclature, the Articles of Association must be notarized by a Notary Public for them to be legally valid in the United Arab Emirates.

You also need to rent suitable commercial space for your F&B establishment. The Dubai Municipality has certain criteria when it comes to F&B establishments, such as the following:

  • For a restaurant, the kitchen must either be 300 square feet in size (380 square feet if there is an oven) or take up 40% of the total establishment area, whichever is greater.
  • In case of a cafeteria, the minimum area required for a kitchen is 200 square feet or 40% of the customer seating area, whichever is greater.
  • A bakery needs to have a kitchen / food preparation area of 200 square feet.
  • A tea stall needs to have a kitchen / food preparation area of 100 square feet.
  • There must be a separate area for preparing meat.
  • The washing of vegetables and cleaning of utensils must be done at different places.
  • You need a double sink at each place with hot / cold water supply.
  • There must be a good ventilation system in place.
  • The restaurant must have adequate lighting.
  • The roof, floor, and all the walls must be washable and fireproof.
  • The floor must have a gentle slope leading to a drainage junction to assist when it comes to cleaning purposes.
  • The F&B establishment must have a chimney that is two metres taller than the height of the surrounding buildings.
  • The drainage pipe must be two inches away from any wall.
  • There must be a storage area for chilled and frozen items.
  • There must be stainless steel racks to hold dry items.
  • Stainless steel racks must be present to hold utensils.
  • All the doors and windows must have adequate measures in place to prevent the entry of rodents.

A business setup consultant can help you find the right space for your cafe / restaurant / bakery / coffee shop on the mainland. He/She can help you register the Tenancy Agreement signed with the landlord, so that it becomes a legally binding Tenancy Contract or Ejari. This is essential when submitting an application to open a F&B establishment in Dubai. In addition, a blueprint of the place must also be provided to the Department of Economic Development, Dubai.

The Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality has also published a Food Code that needs to be adhered to by F&B establishments on the mainland. This has been issued in the interests of food safety and contains guidelines on how contamination of food can be prevented, such as by proper handling. Every kitchen must have a Person-in-Charge who has been certified by the Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. This involves attending a training session and passing an assessment exam.

In case you are opening your F&B establishment in a free zone, everything is to be submitted to the Free Zone Authority in charge of the free zone. There is no Tenancy Contract, but a Lease Agreement for the space is necessary, in addition to the company formation documents. The Lease Agreement is provided by the Free Zone Authority that operates the free zone. There are more than 30 free zones in Dubai, and you can choose the one of your liking.

After you receive all the necessary approvals, you can proceed to furnish your cafe / restaurant / bakery / coffee shop and do up the interior decor. You can also buy all the kitchen equipment and utensils that will be needed and hire staff for your F&B establishment. You can also proceed to opening a corporate bank account for your F&B establishment, so that you can receive customer payments with ease, as well as make timely payments to your suppliers.

Why Choose A&A Associate LLC for Opening Your F&B Establishment in Dubai?

At A&A Associate, we have years of experience with company registration in Dubai. We aim to provide the entire range of services, from company registration and obtaining the necessary approvals to facilitating employment visas for your staff to offering cost-effective bookkeeping services for your F&B establishment in Dubai. We have been of assistance to clients from 100 countries around the world, and have an excellent client satisfaction rate so far.

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