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From the Hoe, Plymouth to the Berj, Dubai

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Setting up in Dubai isn't without its problems. There are a few essential issues to be wary of. Read about Ben as he jumps at an opportunity to replicate his success in direct marketing from Plymouth to Dubai.

By Ben Sutherland

I first started a direct marketing Company in Plymouth. Things were pretty successful, and when one of my clients jokingly asked if i could emulate the same success in Dubai and help him there, whimsically I said yes and jumped at it.

Setting up in Dubai isn't without its problems. There are a few essential issues to be wary of. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, you can only open a company if you have a local sponsor. This means that you will have to pay a Dubai national a yearly fee, and they will own 51% of your company. This may not seem so attractive to some, but you can use it to your advantage, as I did. Generally speaking, the more you pay the sponsor, the better they are. I paid a man in the labour department $100,000 a year to be my sponsor, the benefit being things such as visas, etc, were done for me very quickly indeed.

Needless to say, you have to be careful who you approach for this job. Make sure you do plenty of research and background checks, and insist that your potential sponsor submit's a reference for your consideration. It has been known, on occasion, for sponsors to leave the cash drawer bare.

Another factor to contend with is visas. When I left Dubai, last year, temporary work permits were around £700 per employee, which isn't exactly cheap. Almost 80% of Dubai is constituted by expatriates, so there is little opportunity for recruitment. Therefore, you need to be prepared for high labour expenses on top of the aforementioned visa.
You needed face all of this alone, either. There are many businesses in Dubai that specialise in the incorporation of companies. They can help you source sponsors, arrange paperwork, and many other tasks that will, quite literally, seem foreign. I really recommend you seek out one of these companies to help you set-up; it'll be safer than making expensive mistakes. Their services vary, but if I was to guess an average charge, it would be around £5000.

But that's more than enough about business,because that's not all there is talk about Dubai. As far as lifestyle is concerned, I've never had it better. Naturally, the weather is fantastic. Within two weeks of being there, I not only had a tan, but a maid, a gardener, a driver, and a friendly community to get to know. Dubai offers and strives to provide the best of everything: beaches, bars, shops, restaurants, sports...just an all round high quality of life.

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