How to Open a Restaurant in Dubai?

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Do you plan to open a restaurant business in Dubai? If yes, then indeed you have made a great investment decision. With Dubai emerging as one of the top global food destinations, so opening a restaurant in Dubai can provide you a highly lucrative opportunity. 

The restaurant industry currently is thriving in Dubai. Worth mentioning, considering the past five years, the restaurant industry here, has witnessed immense growth owing to the high profits that can be registered relatively quick and easy set-up of the business that this country provides.

How to open a restaurant in Dubai?

Well, opening a restaurant in Dubai is definitely not such a simple process as it involves a set of mandatory permissions and approvals that need to be obtained for setting up a restaurant business. All these processes definitely have the potential to make you confused as to how to start a restaurant business and whom to approach exactly.

So, if you are looking at the opening of a restaurant in Dubai, here is everything that you need to know.

Food Code

On the onset, you firstly need to understand that for opening a restaurant business in Dubai, you have to follow a strict ‘Food Code’ which lays down a set of guidelines to be followed by restaurants to comply with the standard food regulations. Established by the food control department of Dubai Municipality, the Food Code requires restaurants to abide by high-quality practices and attain the best standards in terms of food safety. 

Licensing requirement 

To set up a restaurant in Dubai, the most critical part of the entire process is to obtain required licenses or permits. And, this needs to be done properly and in a timely manner so that you can commence your dream restaurant business as quickly as possible. 

Basically, you are required to procure two types of licenses in order to open a restaurant in this country, namely trade and food license.

Trade license 

All restaurants in Dubai are required to have a valid trade license from the Dubai Economic Development (DED) which will give you the actual authority to run a restaurant business in Dubai. Available by paying affordable fees to authorities concerned. However, this is only for cases when you are planning to have your restaurant set up in Dubai Mainland. 

Noteworthy, under the three main categories (commercial, industrial & professional) of license issues by DED in Dubai Mainland, ex-pats can have 100% ownership only if they are getting a professional or service license. Restaurants require a commercial license so they need to partner with a local sponsor who will own 51% of the shares.

Dubai permits a foreign national to own 100% restaurant business in the mainland area with UAE citizens as a local sponsor acting as a legal service agent. On the other hand, for the free zone set-up, you can apply directly to the relevant managing authority.


You are typically expected to give the following -documentation when applying for a license:

  • Application fees
  • Completed application form
  • Copy of your Passport (proposed restaurant owner or owners)
  • Two passport size photos

However, before submitting an application follow these  steps: 

  • Selected the nature of your business venture, namely, commercial, professional, or industrial
  • Recognizing corporate exercises that your business adventure cooks 
  • Getting a legitimate status for your business adventure in Dubai
  • Deciding and registering a valid trade name 
  • Submitting the application for preliminary approval
  • Leasing of a workplace
  • Have all the relevant documents

Noteworthy, the DED will issue a commercial license which differs depending upon the type and activity of restaurants. Particularly, there are four types of activities:

  • Restaurant and coffee shops license
  • Floating restaurant license
  • Multi restaurants center
  • Mini store and restaurant license

Following this, you will also need to get a license from the Department of Tourism and Commercial Marketing. 

Food License

This license can be obtained through the Food & Safety Department which guarantees that you handle food in a safe manner. 

Documents are required
  • Copy of the trade license
  • Premises or interior design layout details (if applicable) which should include: 
  • Entry and exit passages
  • Space for food processing
  • Food storage area
  • Restrooms space
  • Windows and ventilation system
  • Location of food equipment 
  • Location of dishwashers and other supportive equipment
  • Minimum of 30 meters from waste dumping areas
  • Minimum of 750 square feet for Restuarant 
  • Permission from the planning department, in case, if you want to open a restaurant inside a shopping mall

No Objection Certificate (NOC) 

You also would be required to seek an NOC on foodstuff establishment trade license from the food & safety department and also from the Municipality of Dubai.

Special Requirements and Permits  

Apart from the above-mentioned approvals, you need to obtain special permits depending upon the specific requirements that you would want in your restaurant such as: 

  • Food delivery permit license
  • Pork permit |  it is for handling & serving pork products
  • Vehicle permit for transporting food products
  • Liquor license (Note: if you plan to serve liquor)
  • Ramadan permit

Choose a Strategic Location

Location is an essential factor that will drive a business. Even the best restaurant can suffer, due to a poor choice of location. 

The ideal option is to analyze and then choose a strategic location that supports the type of restaurant you want to open such as fine dining restaurants or economical cafes while also keeping in mind the targeted audience, as it will help in business growth. 

Some of the key factors that you should consider while deciding the location is:

  • Visibility
  • Accessibility
  • Customer Base
  • Affordability
  • Ease of Suppliers
  • Competitors 
Restaurant in Dubai

Get started with your restaurant business!

Opening a restaurant in Dubai is complicated, but, nonetheless, a rewarding endeavor, if done correctly. Wrong, inadequate, or improper filing of documents has the potential in delaying the commencement of your venture while also making your business vulnerable to legal fines.

Hence, to avoid such complications, hire Shura Business Setup for carrying out all the processes required in opening your restaurant in Dubai in a smooth and effortless way. Our highly competent and dedicated professional team will assist you through the licensing procedures and in compliance with all the regulations, thereby, ensuring a successful start of your restaurant while saving your precious time and valuable resources. Get in touch with us and convert your business dream into reality!

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