How to open a restaurant in Dubai?

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Dubai is home to nearly 200 nationalities. It has the same vividness and multi-diversity when it comes to food culture. Among the thousands of best restaurants in Dubai, you can find almost every cuisine. It is not only the restaurants that serve traditional Emirati cuisines but also Thai, Japanese, French, Filipino, Indian, Nepali, German, Arabic, Sri Lankan, Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Iranian, African, Pakistani, Greek, Malay, and British cuisines as well. On average, residents in Dubai eat out more than six times a week which is higher than in America.

With nearly 5 million tourists gathering to taste its rich & diverse culture every year, the food service industry has become a huge business in Dubai. However, the diversity in food culture and food festivals such as Dubai Food Festival, Global Village, and Gulf Food Festival have made it one of the most attractive destinations for food lovers around the world.

In this blog, we have covered everything you need to know on how to open a restaurant in Dubai including types of restaurants, where to open a restaurant, business trade licenses, food licenses, its costs, and many others.

Let’s get started!

Types of restaurants in Dubai

In Dubai, you can find almost every type of restaurant in the world, from the most luxurious restaurants where you can sit beside a huge aquarium to restaurants that offer more budget-friendly yet unique and mouthwatering options. Moreover, there are many types of restaurants and cafes in Dubai, we can identify three main categories according to their operations.

1. Full-service restaurants

Full-service restaurants offer relatively broad menus and dining spaces for their customers. Food and drinks are served directly to the customer’s table for immediate consumption and the guests are served throughout their dining experience by serving staff such as waiters and bartenders. These types of restaurants may have takeaway and delivery options too.

2. Food kitchens

Food kitchens are a type of restaurant that mainly offers takeaway options. Customers order food from these restaurants for later consumption. In Dubai, you can see people often order food and have them in their vehicles. After the Covid-19 outbreak, these types of restaurants have become more and more popular.

3. Delivery restaurants

As you can guess the business operations of delivery restaurants are mainly focused on preparing and delivering food and drinks for their customers. Delivery restaurants often have their delivery staff and also outsource the delivery part to a food delivery service.

It is a good idea to have a proper understanding of what type of services you are going to offer to your customers since it is required to mention your business activities when obtaining the trade license for your new restaurant business setup in the UAE.

Where to open new restaurants in Dubai?

Usually, almost every restaurant in Dubai aims to give a unique food experience to its customers through its cuisine, customer service, and ambiance. When you choose a place to start your new restaurant business you can think about a place that can give your customers a unique experience. Meanwhile, you can incorporate malls and also locations near business centers where more people are gathering. For example, if your business is targeting Pakistani people with tasty Pakistani cuisines, you may choose a location where more Pakistani people are living and gathering.

Choosing the ideal location that suits your business strategy is very important for success. You need to get assistance from a well-reputed business consultancy in Dubai. Business consultants in Dubai can save you from falling into unexpected pitfalls. Emirates Business Setup offers its clients business setup services. We offer initial free consultation and assistance in business planning in Dubai.

When it comes to choosing the right business location for your business, you should also consider whether it is in the Dubai Mainland or a Dubai free zone. Both of the options have their advantages and disadvantages but here we will discuss further how you can turn everything into the success of your new business venture in Dubai.

Ideal location for new restaurants in Dubai

If you are looking for an ideal location to start a new restaurant business in Dubai. You need to check your budget first. For a high budget you can choose any of the below locations to start your restaurant in Dubai:

  • Al Barsha
  • Downtown
  • Dubai Creek Harbour
  • The Mall of Emirates
  • Dubai Marina
  • Palm Jumeirah
  • Dubai Mall
  • Al Quoz.

Open a restaurant in a free zone

Of course, you can set up new restaurants in different free zones of Dubai. The most common free zones are the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), International Free Zone Authority (IFZA), and Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA). The main difference is businesses can operate only within their free zone. But even within the free zone, you can find a customer base unique to your business.

You can get assistance from one of our business consultants in the planning stage of your business. After selecting the preferred free zone, you may need to get your license from the chosen free zone authority. With copies of your trade license, you can get approval for your plans from the Food Safety Department and obtain your food license in Dubai. You may also need to open a bank account to manage your finances.

Open a restaurant on the mainland

If you are planning to open your brand-new restaurant in Dubai Mainland, you have the freedom to conduct your business anywhere in the Dubai Mainland. Your business can benefit from a much larger potential customer base. Here we will cover the steps you need to go through to start your restaurant business in the Dubai Mainland.

Licenses required to open a restaurant in Dubai Mainland

Several types of licenses are required to start a food business in the Dubai Mainland.

  • In the first step, you need to acquire a trading license from the Department of Economic Development since it is the administering body of business activities in the Dubai Mainland. Upon registering your company, this license is issued.
  • After successfully obtaining your trade license, you may apply for a food license from the Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. As everywhere in the world, the food business in Dubai is required to adhere to quality control measures which are called the Dubai Food Code to continue your business licenses. Keep in mind that Dubai has very strict rules and regulations regarding food safety. This food license will permit you the right to process and handle food.
  • If you are planning to sell liquor in your restaurant, you need to obtain the liquor permit additionally. You can obtain a liquor license from the Police Department.
  • For delivery restaurants that maintain their delivery staff, it is required to obtain a delivery permit in addition.
  • The restaurants that are going to be operated in new buildings need to obtain a construction license as well.
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Dubai Municipality is another requisite to start a restaurant in Dubai.

restaurant with View of Dubai Burj Khalifa and Skyscrapers

How to obtain a trade license for a restaurant in Dubai?

To obtain the trade license for your new business setup in Dubai, you need to go through the following steps.

  1. Declare the nature of the enterprise whether it is commercial, professional, or industrial.
  2. Identify and state the expected business activities your business is going to conduct. Here you can state a maximum of 10 different activities per license.
  3. Then it is time to come up with a suitable name for your brand-new restaurant and register the trading name.
  4. The next step is to declare the legal status of the business in the UAE.
  5. After completing all the above steps, you can submit your application for initial approval.
  6. With the initial approval, the next step is to state your corporate office. You are also required to submit the EJARI certificate to obtain the trade license.
  7. Finally, you can submit all the required documents along with the final registration form to the Department of Economic Development and obtain the trade license in Dubai.

How to obtain a food license in Dubai?

The food permit AKA the food license is issued by the Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. Here you must get your restaurant plans approved by the Dubai Municipality to receive the Dubai food license.

The following are the steps you need to follow.

  • To apply for the Dubai Food License, you need to submit a copy of your trade license or a copy of the initial approval for the Dubai Trade License.
  • The blueprint which means the layout of the interior design of the restaurant must be approved by the Food Safety Department of the Dubai Municipality. In the interior design plan, you must depict the entrance and the exit of the restaurant, food processing, and other supplementary equipment including dishwashers.
  • There are several requirements you must adhere to when deciding on the interior design of your new restaurant. This is very important to obtain the food permit successfully.

Here we will mention some of the requirements you must consider.

  1. There must be dedicated areas for the kitchen, storage for both equipment and food, and for maintenance area (if any).
  2. The kitchen area must not be less than 40% of the total area of the restaurant or it must be at least 300 square feet.
  3. There must be a proper and sufficient ventilation system in the restaurant.
  4. The chimney of the restaurant must be at least two meters higher than the nearest building to the restaurant.
  5. The restaurant’s walls, floor, and roof must be fireproof and washable.
  6. There must be separate wash basins for washing vegetables & fruits, meat, and kitchen utensils.
  7. There must be separate storage for chilled, frozen, and dry food.
  8. The drainage pipe must be 2 inches away from the walls.
  9. Documents requirements

Documents required to open a restaurant in Dubai

The documents you will need to get ready to set up new restaurants in Dubai are listed below.

  • Trade license copy.
  • Food license.
  • No objection certificate from the Dubai Municipality.
  • Passport-size photos.
  • Passport copies of the owner(s).
  • Completed BR/1 form.
  • Memorandum of Association.
  • Tenancy agreement AKA Ejari registration certificate.
  • Trading name approval letter issued by the Department of Economic Development.
  • UAE ID number.
  • Proof of payment.

Costs to start a restaurant in Dubai

Another main thing you might be wondering is how much it costs to start a restaurant in Dubai. Well, this depends on several factors and the total cost varies according to different instances. Otherwise, you can contact an Emirates Business Setup anytime to get an exact idea of the financial requirements related to your new business venture. However, you need to consider the following factors in terms of costs, such as:

  • The cost involved in planning (ex: the creation of a food menu).
  • Cost for licensing and obtaining permissions.
  • The cost involved in acquiring business premises (ex: rent).
  • Restaurant setting up cost (ex: furniture, interior design, equipment).
  • Insurance cost.
  • Cost related to employees.
  • Cost on software and for other daily operations.
  • Advertising cost.
  • Working capital.


Emirates Business Setup consultants are well experienced in dealing with the restaurant registration process and the rules & regulations regarding Dubai food license. We offer complete business setup services including assistance in business planning, preparing all the required documents for business registration, provision of business premises, visa services, assistance & advisory services for bank account opening, auditing, and tax accounting services. Emirates Business Setup team is always ready to assist you in marking your business dream a success!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to comply with food safety regulations?

Yes, food safety regulations are strict in Dubai. You must adhere to the guidelines set by the Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department. This includes maintaining proper hygiene standards, storing and handling food safely, and ensuring the quality of ingredients.

2. How do I hire staff for my restaurant?

You can recruit staff but ensure that they meet the legal requirements for employment in Dubai. This includes obtaining work permits and residency visas for expatriate employees.

3. What does it mean by food code in Dubai?

The food code in Dubai, was established by the Dubai Municipality. It sets standards and regulations to ensure food safety and hygiene in all food-related businesses, including restaurants. Compliance with this code is mandatory for all establishments.

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