Companies and start-ups across the world are eyeing Dubai to shift their operations or begin new businesses – motivated by its ideal location, soaring innovation, growing infrastructure, and outstanding stability.

If this sounds like something you'd like to explore, it's helpful to know the commercial rental process in Dubai before you get started (hint: it's different to renting a residential property). Whether you've relocated to the emirate or are looking to get started from overseas, this guide will walk you through every step.

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What are you looking for?

Whether you're setting up a new business or relocating your company, the first thing you should do is determine what type of commercial space you're looking for.

We don't expect you to be 100 per cent sure about what you want – that's where the help of a professional comes in. Your dedicated Commercial Consultant will ask you a few questions about your business and goals to steer you in the right direction.


The documents that you need will vary based on the kind of tenant that you are. Are you looking for ground floor retail, offices, or warehouses? Each industry will require a different approach, not only to our qualification processes but to the documentation needed.

For most tenants, the process is quite straightforward. Trade licence (or other initial approvals and certificates), passport copy of the authorized signatory (it could be you or someone else), personal identification, and you're good to go.

As a retailer, however, you must consider other factors before moving forward. To help you with this step, we will request your company profile – this can be a website, social media, or anything that gives us a clear idea of what you do and what your concept is. Your Consultant will ask you a few follow-up questions and then specify which documentation is needed for your case. This will assist with obtaining a landlord’s approval.

Negotiation is key

Contract negotiation is very important when it comes to renting a commercial property. From the number of cheques and refurbishment costs to the clauses and price, there are many moving parts that need to be carefully considered before you sign anything.

Doing this on your own can be risky, so it's better to leave this part to your Commercial Consultant. A clear agreement will save you headaches further down the line and ensure a smooth tenancy. 

hausandhaus successfull year 2019 and outlook in 2020

Understanding licences

The concept of your business may require licences to operate legally. The process will vary depending on whether the commercial property is located in the free zone or mainland. First time hearing these words? Here's the breakdown.

Free zone – Also called free trade zones, these areas offer 100% foreign ownership, 100% customs and VAT exemptions, complete repatriation of capital and profits, and corporate tax exemptions. They are designed to encourage foreign investment.

Mainland – These are the areas in which all private organisations are allowed to conduct their business. Some examples of Mainland companies include international food chains, luxury shops, automobile manufacturing, and export and import businesses.

Some free zone licences can be obtained within a day, while some others take 2 to 8 months depending on various factors such as business activity, branch office, rep office for international head office, etc.

As for mainland licences (also known as Dubai Economic Department licences), they can take anywhere between three working days and one month depending on who your landlord is (developer or independent).

What's next?

Renting a commercial property is just the beginning of your journey. After you've found the perfect space, there's another checklist waiting to be completed – and we can help with that too.

At haus & haus, we focus on offering a complete service so you can get everything you need in one place. We can support you with:

✔ Fit-out services
✔ Professional furnishing solutions
✔ Mortgage services
✔ Currency services
✔ Corporate wifi
✔ Business set-up

Want to learn more? Our Commercial Consultants can clarify any questions and listen to your concerns so you can make the right decision based on accurate information.

Get in touch with us today to book your free consultation.