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Open a Restaurant in Dubai

Open a Restaurant in Dubai

Opening a restaurant in Dubai can be a very good investment opportunity for foreign businessmen. However, there are some requirements for starting a business in the food industry in Dubai.

With years of experience in company formation in Dubai, our local specialists are here to answer all your questions related to creating a restaurant business in the Emirate. Furthermore, you can rely on us for assistance in registering your company with the local authorities.

 Quick Facts  
Who can open a restaurant in Dubai?  Both local and foreign entrepreneurs can access the food industry in Dubai by setting up a restaurant 

Applicable legislation 

Food Code in Dubai 

 Institution in charge of approvals for restaurants in Dubai

Food Safety Department in Dubai 

 Types of food establishments to open in Dubai

– restaurants,

– coffee shops,

– catering units,

– bakeries, etc. 

Recommended business structure 

The limited liability company is the most popular entity for such type of activity. 

 Formalities for opening a restaurant in Dubai

– preparation of the Articles of Association,

– a registered business address,

– obtaining special licenses and permits 

Licenses and permits 

– trade license,

– liquor license,

– food license,

– construction license for raising the building 

Environmental regulations for a restaurant in Dubai 

At least 30 meters from waste disposal, at least 10 clean meters around the restaurant 

Liquor license required (YES/NO) 


Possibility to open a restaurant in Dubai’s free zones  Yes, foreign investors can open their restaurants in dedicated free zones in Dubai for a wide range of advantages 
 Business plan for a restaurant in Dubai (YES/NO)


Operational startup costs for a restaurant in Dubai 

– fees for required licenses,

– rent,

– equipment,

– employee registration, and salaries,

– advertising and marketing 

 Costs of opening a restaurant in Dubai

Around AED 800,000 (average) 

 Choosing our agents for company formation in Dubai

We can manage:

– paperwork for company formation,

– collaborate with relevant institutions,

– guide customers throughout the entire process of formation 

Reasons to open a restaurant in Dubai 

– great touristic destination,

– top technology,

– booming food industry 

The Food Code in Dubai

The main provisions for setting up restaurants in Dubai are encompassed in the Food Code. The Food Code was enabled in order to support restaurant owners and to provide guidelines for food safety and regulations to be respected when owning a food establishment in Dubai.

The Food Code was designed according to other food codes in countries like the United States and Australia. The Dubai Food Code also encompasses the law regulations stated by the Food Control Department. The Food Code clearly states the requirements to be met in order to obtain a safe environment and health protection for consumers going to restaurants in Dubai.

The Food Code requirements apply to the following categories of food establishments in Dubai:

  •  restaurants and cafés,
  •  canteens in hospitals and schools,
  •  bakeries,
  •  supermarkets and grocery stores,
  •  catering units,
  •  food factories.

Choosing the right business form for the Dubai restaurant

In order to open a restaurant or any other type of food business in Dubai, an investor must first choose the type of structure used for the company. The most appropriate in the case of a restaurant is the limited liability company which is the easiest to set up. Then, the business owner must decide if the company will be registered in mainland Dubai or one of its free zones.

No matter the choice, the restaurant will be subject to the same registration and licensing requirements. However, full foreign ownership is permitted in Dubai-free zones, which can be quite significant for certain overseas investors. More about the average costs of opening a restaurant in Dubai can be discussed with our company formation agents.

Obtaining a license for a restaurant in Dubai

In order to establish a restaurant in Dubai, a trade license is required from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The owner of the restaurant must also select the appropriate type of business suitable for the type of food establishment he/she wants to open, as the license will clearly state the activity the restaurant will undertake.

The second step will be to receive approval for the construction plans which must be according to some specifications. These specifications are made by the Food Control Department in Dubai. The blueprints of the restaurants must comprise the following information:

  •  the space for food processing and storage,
  •  the sanitary spaces such as restrooms,
  •  the windows and ventilation system,
  •  the location of the equipment used to process the food,
  •  the entry and exit passages,
  •  the location of the washing machines.

It is also important to know that the restaurant must be placed at a minimum of 30 meters from waste disposal places that could lead to contamination and at least 10 meters of the space around the restaurant must be kept clean at all times.

You can also find out from the video below the main requirements to open a restaurant in Dubai:

Types of licenses for opening a restaurant in Dubai

There are several licenses that must be obtained when setting up a restaurant in Dubai. Among these are:

  • the trade license which is issued upon the registration of the company;
  • the food license which grants the business the right to process and handle food;
  • the construction license, in case the owner wants the restaurant to operate in a new building;
  • a liquor license, which requires special attention and must be obtained from the police department;
  • a no-objection letter from the Dubai municipality must also be obtained.

Other special licenses which can be obtained are the food truck license which is issued for delivery services, however, most of the time this license is required for catering establishments. A pork permit for serving pork meat and a Ramadan license can also be issued in Dubai. We remind investors that these are not mandatory licenses.

Our company registration advisors in Dubai can offer detailed information on the licensing requirements related to the costs of opening a restaurant in Dubai.

Documents required to obtain a food license in Dubai

The Food Safety Department in Dubai requires the following documents to be submitted when opening a restaurant in the Emirate:

  •  the first approval issued by the Department of Economic Development,
  •  the layout of the premises,
  •  approval from the Planning Department, if the restaurant is located outside a shopping center.

Other special licenses will also be required, depending on the specifics of the restaurant. More about the costs of opening a restaurant in Dubai can be discussed with us.

What are the food safety requirements in Dubai?

All restaurants in Dubai are required to appoint qualified personnel when starting operating. The individual carrying out this task will be the Person in Charge of Training who needs to undergo an authorized training course. In order to ensure food safety, the restaurant must also obtain the following licenses:

  • a food consignment release license;
  • a pork permit for handling and serving pork products;
  • a vehicle permit for transporting food products.

The Dubai Food Code also imposes special regulations on the import and export of food products, but for more details about starting a restaurant in Dubai, you can talk to our local agents.

How do I obtain a liquor license for a restaurant in Dubai?

Those who want to serve alcoholic beverages in their restaurants in Dubai can apply for a liquor license under certain conditions. The person applying for the license must be non-Muslim, must be at least 21 years old, have a Dubai residence permit, and earn at least 3,000 Dh per month. The last requirement related to the minimum salary applies to those selling alcoholic beverages in a Dubai-free zone.

For companies, such as restaurants the trade license will be required by the police station officers when applying for the liquor license. The following documents must be filed when applying for a liquor license for a Dubai restaurant:

  • the applicant’s personal information which meets the requirements mentioned above;
  • the layout of the premises where alcoholic beverages will be sold;
  • information about the place where the alcohol is stored;
  • a fire safety certificate;
  • an estimation of the cost related to selling alcohol in the restaurant.

The requirements related to selling alcohol when opening a restaurant in Dubai are quite stringent, however, this is one of the few emirates which are open to the serving of alcoholic beverages in designated establishments. Special attention must be paid to the facility where alcoholic beverages are stored which must be strictly controlled. The validity of the liquor license is 1 year and can be renewed.

Requirements for the construction of a restaurant in Dubai

The site for opening a restaurant must, first of all, be appropriate for a food establishment and provide enough suitable space for the equipment to be used for this type of activity. The building must allow the place to be cleaned and make possible the disposal of dirt and smoke be evacuated easily.

The building must not provide any entries for pests. The food flow must go in one direction only. The utensils used to prepare the food must be provided with an enclosed space so they are not exposed to contamination. Toilets and storage areas must be separated from kitchens.

The following norms must be respected for the construction of a new restaurant business in Dubai:

  • the surface of the kitchen must have approximately 28 sqm or represent 40% of the total area of the restaurant;
  • the kitchen must have a good ventilation system which a 2-meter-high chimney;
  • the walls, the ceiling, and the floor must be fireproof and washable;
  • the kitchen must have separate basins for washing the utensils, the vegetables, and the meat;
  • the kitchen must also be equipped with an appropriate storage place;
  • the drainage pipe must be located at least 10 cm from the wall.

Other requirements could also apply, which is why studying the legislation in this sense is very important.

The costs of opening a restaurant in Dubai

When you decide on starting a restaurant in Dubai, it is recommended that you take into account the costs involved, right from the beginning, so that you can outline your budget in this regard. The costs of opening a restaurant in Dubai depend on several factors that must be taken into account, and among them, we mention:

  • First of all, you need a business license.
  • The price for renting a property, or, if it is the case, the value of a location of this kind.
  • The insurance.
  • Equipment, tables, chairs, cutlery, interior design.
  • Capital estimated for hiring staff and also for training.
  • Required software for daily operations of the restaurant.

As such, it can be said that these are the average costs for opening a restaurant in Dubai, or in other words, the first investments you have to make in this direction. We recommend contacting our specialists for support in opening a restaurant in Dubai. They can take care of the formalities and paperwork, but also the collaboration with the relevant authorities in order to obtain the necessary permits and licenses.

Determining the USP for your restaurant in Dubai

USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. Business owners must establish a unique concept in order to differentiate themselves from the competition in the market. Once you analyze the area where you are interested in setting up a restaurant in Dubai, you will be able to get an idea of what type of business you want to develop or the niche you want to enter with your idea.

The USP should include details about the style of the restaurant, the ambiance, and the type of food you want to serve on the premises. If you are interested in more about the USP for a restaurant in Dubai, we suggest you contact our specialists. We are here to help you start a business in Dubai.

Choosing the location for opening a restaurant in Dubai

Probably among the first things you have to consider when opening a restaurant in Dubai is choosing the correct location. There are also a number of factors here that must be carefully analyzed:

  • Visibility is important. You must make sure that the location of the restaurant is visible, and therefore accessible to potential customers.
  • Affordability is another aspect that you have to take into account when starting a restaurant in Dubai. You have to balance the costs related to renting the place, food items, and the final prices to know if you will make a profit or not.
  • Suppliers of the restaurant should be nearby. This way you can save time in purchasing raw materials for cooking the dishes in the restaurant. Local producers from the vicinity are usually recommended when opening a restaurant in Dubai.

Is technology important for opening a restaurant in Dubai?

Of course, especially since in Dubai, you can access top technology in any field, including the food industry. Investments can be made both in the quality of the equipment for preparing the desired products, as well as for the tasks related to daily operations, including the POS system. Thus, you can implement a series of smart devices and technologies that will satisfy both customer tastes and make work easier.

You can contact our company formation agents in Dubai for details about all the Food Code provisions and for the company’s registration steps. You can rely on us for assistance with starting a restaurant in Dubai.