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What business you should launch in the UAE if you want to succeed

When starting a business in the Emirates, certain industries offer more significant benefits, including a larger market size, higher demand, better profit potential, and stronger government support.
But, as a businessperson setting up here, it’s important to choose the vertical carefully. This means looking beyond just numbers — it’s essential to understand the field and have experience in the vertical you choose.

Venturing into an unfamiliar vertical in a country as culturally and legislatively unique as the UAE is a surefire way to rapidly deplete your funds. Keep this in mind as we explore the top 7 most profitable industries for starting a business in the Emirates.

What industries are the best types of business to open in the emirates?

Today, a growing number of both new and established businesses are expanding into the Emirates to tap into the lucrative UAE markets. In fact, thousands of businesses are setting up in the UAE. To illustrate the scale of this impact, consider that Dubai’s free zones aim to significantly boost their contribution to the emirate’s GDP, targeting $68 billion by 2030. With the market not yet oversaturated, now is an ideal time to start a business in the Emirates. But what industry should you choose? If you’re entering this market now, here’s a shortlist of options to consider.

1. Construction

The Emirates, especially Dubai, is among the fastest-growing mega-cities, famous for colossal projects like Burj Khalifa or the Palm Jumeirah. But beyond these landmarks, a significant influx of international businesses and expats has fueled a boom in constructing residential real estate, office buildings, and commercial facilities throughout the Emirates. Today, the country’s construction industry is estimated at USD 38.99 billion in 2023.

What’s more, the sector enjoys a strong development agenda, like the “Projects of the 50” initiative. The government is aiming to attract nearly $150 billion in foreign direct investment by 2030, offering lots of support for new construction businesses.

In this rapidly developing vertical, there’s a huge demand for construction companies, design and architectural firms. businesses producing or trading building materials, and companies offering construction equipment rental.

2. Agriculture

When you picture Dubai, you probably imagine a futuristic city of steel-and-glass skyscrapers rising from the desert sands. Surprisingly, the UAE is striving to become a powerhouse in produce. The Emirates are working to reduce their reliance on imported foods, which currently account for 85% of consumption, by increasing home-grown food production. The UAE’s agriculture market, valued at USD 3.31 billion in 2024, is expected to grow further, reaching USD 4.09 billion by 2029, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.30%.

In Ras-al-Khaimah, there’s already a successful traditional agricultural sector focused on fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, squash, and cauliflower. These crops meet the country’s needs during the growing season.

But the harsh climate and intense summers have led the government to bank on innovative farming methods. Vertical and hydroponic farms, which are ideal for growing leafy greens and salads, are rapidly developing in the KEZAD special zone of Abu Dhabi. This presents a fantastic opportunity for new startups focused on sustainable farming.

3. Tourism

Tourism is now the largest contributor to the UAE’s GDP outside the oil and gas sector. In 2022, the travel and tourism sector contributed nearly 167 billion AED to the Emirate’s GDP — that’s a growth of 60.2% over the previous year. The trend doesn’t stop there.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts that the sector will contribute around $49.18 billion to the UAE’s economy in 2023, which is nearly 10% of the total GDP. This remarkable growth stems from the country’s recent efforts to diversify its economy.

Tourism in the Emirates, particularly in Dubai, is synonymous with luxury. Known as the glamorous “Venice of the Gulf,” Dubai draws high-rollers from around the world. This constant influx creates a steady demand for travel agencies, apartment and villa rentals, and organizations that manage various events – including exhibitions, concerts, seminars, conferences, and festivals.