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Dropshipping In The UAE For Beginners: All You Need To Know

By Alexandra B.

Dropshipping In The UAE For Beginners: All You Need To Know

You often ask us whether the Middle East is a business-friendly region and what you need to do to start dropshipping in the UAE. In this article, we’ve tried to collect the most useful tips and pieces of advice related to this matter, and answer all your questions!

The United Arab Emirates has grown into one of the most digital-friendly countries in the world. Almost 100% of its population is actively using the Internet. They enjoy using social media, write reviews and spend at least 8(!) hours a day online.

Besides that, according to statistics, in 2018, the value of eCommerce sales in the UAE was $12.34 billion, whereas in 2019 it increased to 15.99 billion US dollars. As you can see, the eCommerce market in the UAE is developing rapidly and has a good potential.   

So, if you’ve decided to start an eCommerce business in this country, this is the right choice!

And we’ll tell you about the main pros and cons of dropshipping in the UAE that you must consider seriously before starting a business.

Table Of Contents

Pros of dropshipping in the UAE if you’re a local resident

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When you live in a country, you know a lot about its culture, economy, traditions, mentality, buying preferences and limitations, etc. So, you have some advantages over other eCommerce entrepreneurs:

You understand the psychology of your customers better

You know, we all are unique and different. However, there might be some specific characteristics that generally belong to the people of one particular country and have nothing in common with residents of other countries.

These cultural differences may significantly affect the way people perceive the world around them and their usual response to different situations. For example, some marketing tricks that work well with the people living in America may be absolutely useless when you’re targeting an audience in Asia.

So if you live in the UAE, you know what your fellow citizens like and how they feel about different marketing strategies, tips, tricks, etc.  

You know the local shopping trends inside out

Another advantage you have over your competitors living outside the UAE is related to the knowledge of your local market and understanding what’s in high demand there.

You know what products are difficult to find in brick and mortar stores in the UAE and you can take advantage of it.

If you don’t, just make some time to go shopping and look at the product range of the stores critically.

You are good at legal issues

Starting any type of business is usually a tough thing for most non-residents because they need to examine the laws of the target country and grasp them.

When you’re a resident, you usually don’t face this issue.

Even if you don’t have a law degree, you know what is forbidden or allowed in your country and what legal documents you should study to get the necessary information.

As a rule, most local documents are in the official language of the country, so you won’t have any problems when reading them.

Cons of starting a dropshipping business in the UAE for the residents

cons-of-dropshipping-in-the-uae.jpg

Let’s take a look at the disadvantages of starting an eCommerce business in the UAE:

You need a trade license to start a business

To start selling something in the UAE, you need to register your business officially and get a business trade license. This is a mandatory requirement of the UAE government.  

Unfortunately, this license is expensive. It will cost you $4,000 or more. Its cost depends on many factors such as the region of the business establishment, the type of business activities, the number of partnerships, etc.

If you really want to do business in the UAE, we strongly advise you to get a license. Otherwise, you can be fined and obliged to pay from $1,500 to $15,000.

However, if this way of starting a business isn’t appropriate for you, you can try to register your business in the USA. We have a great article where we explain how to do it in detail. Feel free to read it!

ePacket delivery isn’t available in the UAE

Another issue you may face when dropshipping in the UAE is that you can’t use the ePacket delivery. This shipping method isn’t available in the UAE.

At first glance, this is a big problem. But in fact, it is not.

AliExpress has recently introduced a great service called AliExpress Direct. This is a premium delivery which is developed specifically for customers in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia.

However, not all the products placed on AliExpress can be delivered via this service – they must meet certain requirements such as having a high quality, for example.  

This is a door-to-door delivery, so your customers won’t need to go to the post office. Besides that, if they’re not at home, a courier will make a second delivery attempt at another time.

Dropshipping to the UAE from a foreign country

Now you know the reasons to start a dropshipping business while living in the UAE, and the possible limitations you may face. But what if you live in another country and just want to target this market? What should you do in this case?

Actually, nothing special.

As you know, you can start a dropshipping business from any destination in the world. Therefore, when launching a store, you will focus on the laws of your own country with regard to the business registration and taxation. Still, remember that if you sell digital products to a customer in the UAE, you must charge the VAT rate!

Probably, you won’t know your target audience as well as the UAE residents, but this is not a big deal. Visit forums, discussion boards and social media communities related to this country and read as much information about it as possible.

In some time you’ll get an idea of the culture of this country, the typical customer behavior and buyers’ preferences. Besides that, you will learn more about what your target audience likes and what types of products are popular with the country population.

As you can see, targeting the UAE market won’t have any difference. You will do the same things that all dropshippers do when launching their business.

Now you know what you should do to start dropshipping in the UAE. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!

 

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By Alexandra B.
Alexandra is a content creator and a huge fan of blogging. She strongly believes in the power of words and likes writing in the casual and friendly tone.
67 Comments
Samir May 31, 2019 8:43:55

Great article Alexandra

I am from KSA which is considered the largest marketplace in the gulf. I would assume the same article applies to any one plan to start dropshipping from KSA. But, correct me if I am wrong, up to my knowledge that dropshipping has no borders nor it has legal requirements. I mean to say, that any individual can start selling from any where in the world with no need to register his online store at the local authorities. The only con i can see is when you start receiving your funds from Paypal or Payoneer directly to your account or visa card in large amount. Then a big question can be raised as from where are you getting this fund? As you know money transfer is being monitored worldwide. Else, I expect things to run normal and smooth.
I hope if you can write some thing about the virtual banks and the update as how to receive funds from payments made via the store.

    Akhtar Edroos July 16, 2019 4:02:43

    Great article! But you missed out one very important point. How does one get payment from customers online if most payment methods don’t work in the region? This is the first thing that needs to be understood. It also limits your option as you cannot use the regular AliDropship plugin. You can only use AliDropship WooCommerce plugin and you will need to get a payment gateway API from the local banks. Please mention this after doing your own research as this is a very crucial point during contemplating to start your own Dropshipping business.

Benaiah Hlebeya July 15, 2019 8:13:35

Hello Olga. Thank you for this information about series of drop shipping in other countries.
Is possible to get another research about drop shipping in South Africa and Africa. What are the advantages and disadvantages.

JM July 15, 2019 13:53:47

Hi Alexandra,

I am leaving here in UAE as expatriate and having a dropshipping store and introduce it to my friend and build his dropshipping both of us staying or working here in UAE. Same question with Samir do we need to get a license or registration here? the main issue is about the payment options and selling option from the seller. Are we going to face some problem or issue about dropshipping here eventhough we don’t have office and visible products to sell in the area. all was online, are they gonna check it and sue us? if its needed what are the other options and procedure for this matter.
Please give us some idea and information about this.
Thank you

    Abdullah July 20, 2019 8:14:02

    Yes for KSA and UAE you need a business license also register for VAT. If you run a business without these you can be fined , jailed and deported and your assets will be ceased. They will check your fiance transactions . They are very advanced and illegal business ventures are normally a front for money laundry… there is no second chances

    Olalekan Olagunju September 26, 2019 11:34:58

    Hi Olga,
    Thanks for your mails, can you kindly send the step-by-step process of how to start a drop shipping business to my email
    lekanolagunju89@gmail.com

Pieter Lutz Smuts July 20, 2019 16:14:17

I am living here in UAE as expatriate and would like to open drop shipping store . Same question with Samir do we need to get a license or registration here? the main issue is about the payment options and selling option from the seller. Are we going to face some problem or issue about dropshipping here eventhough we don’t have office and visible products to sell in the area. all was online, are they gonna check it and sue us? if its needed what are the other options and procedure for this matter.
Please give us some idea and information about this.
Thank you

Samuel Wachogi October 2, 2019 19:35:02

Hi. As a U.A.E. resident I am also very interested in Dropshipping. Kindly send me more information on how to meet regal requirements. Additionally, explain to me the regal requirements of an affiliate marketer. I will be grateful to receive more information in my email as well. Thank You.

    Olga L. October 3, 2019 8:27:36

    Hi, thank you very much for your interest! Our team will get in touch with you soon.

      Debbie October 25, 2019 15:54:52

      I have the same concerns and I don’t know where to go to get some information. Please clarify this topic, as we don’t want to be in troubles. Thanks.

Lindsey October 3, 2019 18:04:05

Hello,
I live in the UAE but originally from the UK. If I want to start a drop shipping business, can I register my business in the UK although I am living in the UAE. Please let me know.
Thanks
Lindsay

    Olga L. October 4, 2019 10:36:49

    Hi, thank you for your question!

    As the political situation in the UK currently stays uncertain, we strongly recommend you to advise a local lawyer.

    mukhtar shaikh March 22, 2020 20:04:57

    hi Ogla
    can u please guide me to start dropshipping business from Dubai

      Olga L. March 24, 2020 13:24:32

      Hi, thank you for your interest! Our dedicated manager will contact you via email soon.

Balaji October 7, 2019 15:33:40

I am an expat living in UAE. Can I register for a company in USA and still do drop shipping here in UAE/Other markets. Is this legally allowed. The funds from the sales in drop shipping can be transferred anywhere in the world from Payoneer? Please advise.

      halima bah November 29, 2019 19:11:57

      Hello Olga, thank you for your information .
      i’m living in UAE and i’m interesting about dropshiping. how can i contact you for the registration license

        Olga L. December 2, 2019 10:30:23

        Hi, thank you for your interest!

        Our team member will get in touch with you soon.

Bruna October 20, 2019 6:36:56

I’m living in UAE and starting my drop shipping business. Could you please advise which is the best way to receive payments here?

Zac October 24, 2019 3:41:48

Hi Olga. I would like to know about the same. I am currently not a resident of UAE. And i read ur article about opening up an llc in USA, if i do so, can i still deliver items to UAE without opening trade lic and will stripe allow residents of UAE pay via debit card?

    Olga L. October 24, 2019 9:11:33

    Hi, thank you for your question!

    It will be much more practical for you to dropship items to the USA: shipping time will be much shorter and more convenient for buyers, plus, they will have much more payment methods available.

roms October 28, 2019 8:08:33

Just wanted to ask I’ve got a NOC from my spouse, I’m a British expat. Will I still be required to obtain a licence to dropship to countries like South Korea, USA or the UK. As the individual doesn’t exactly hold the items, they just transfer from the shipping company to the client, we’re like the middle-man. But obviously we dropshippers will have an online store, were the clients/customers come and order their goods and then the shipping company takes care of it. will I still be in need of a licence?

Thank you!

    Olga L. October 29, 2019 5:53:29

    Hi, thank your your question!
    It’s not obligatory to have your business officially registered when you’re dropshipping. Some of our clients register their ventures as sole proprietorships, but only in some time after the business launch.

Yasmine November 20, 2019 18:22:21

Hi , thanks for the informations you shred on this post ,i am from Morocco and i would like to start working dropshiping in UAE , but the problem is that i did not get the possibility to find the company that will accept to make a COD for me ( cash on delivery ) , do you know any firm that can be charged by this mission in UAE ?

    Olga L. November 22, 2019 5:18:35

    Hi, thank you for your question!

    It will be much more convenient for you to run a dropshipping business if you ask your clients to make online payments, and not cash on delivery payments. For example, you can integrate PayTabs payment gateway (https://www.paytabs.com/en/) into your store: it works for both Morocco and the UAE.

Alain Reyes November 24, 2019 11:52:44

Hi, thanks for this article as it is applicable to me. I’m living in UAE as an expat. Few days ago, i bought a customized store from your website, for my drop shipping business and it is still under building process from your team. My question is, should i apply it for registration in UAE even though my target audience is from outside the country? If yes, could your team configure the store of the tax applicability of (5%) during sale. And, is tax of 5% applicable only to buyers within UAE purchased? Thank you.

    dg January 20, 2020 17:38:55

    hi alain. ask ko lang how’s your dropshipping store so far? been planning to open mine but still hesitant to do so😕 ask ko lang kung naging madali ang pag open and ang process at pag fulfill ng orders.

    sharaf May 15, 2020 14:06:51

    hello i am also living in Dubai and i want to know how u register as i am planing for a freezone company if u want can get in touch with me via whstapp or email

Waleed Alsayed December 20, 2019 0:39:49

i have store i need product to be add to my site

      Mohammed faisal Ghayas January 21, 2020 14:14:49

      Hi olga,

      i am based in Saudi . i need to open dropshipping store with required licenses and bank account .

      kindly let me know

        Olga L. January 22, 2020 5:55:38

        Hi, thank you for your interest! Our managers will contact you via email soon.

Branding By8 December 23, 2019 13:42:24

Nice post, Something new I found here. Thanks for sharing this info with us.

Jack January 21, 2020 8:46:11

Hello, Thank you for good information.
When building Alidropship store, in UAE, English site is generally applicable? And furthermore, among Africa and middle East Asia countries, which country is English site applicable or suitable for?
Thank you so much.

    Olga L. January 22, 2020 6:19:53

    Hi, thank you for your question!
    An English site is suitable for any country where people know and speak this language.

Arshad January 28, 2020 7:30:37

Hi Olga, i wanted to clarify one thing, i am an expat living in the UAE. I wish to start a Shopify Dropshipping store. But if i were to only sell to countries outside the UAE (Example : USA & UK) Do i still need to register for a business license here? or are there any other options ?

Barry February 1, 2020 11:38:26

Thanks Olga.

-My case is I’m from a foreign country recently live in the UAE want to start a drop shipping business to target audience outside UAE.
– Did I need a license?
-I also want to connect my payment gateway to receive payments in the bank of the UAE is it safe without a license?

    Olga L. February 3, 2020 2:42:59

    Hi, thank you for your interest!

    As you can see from the experience of Sunit from India https://alidropship.com/online-business-with-passive-income/ who currently lives and runs a dropshipping business in the UAE, it is quite possible to own a dropshipping store there without registering it.

      Naji April 24, 2020 13:57:22

      Hello Olga i have my site ready but not launched yet to ensure im within the rules in uae. Do i need to get a trade license if im doing payments on paypal only?

        Olga L. April 27, 2020 5:09:17

        Hi, thank you for your interest!
        If you are a resident, you need to register your business officially and get the license.

Hamid Malik February 23, 2020 11:43:39

Hi,
I am interested to have Drop shipping store in UAE and KSA.
Also I am planning to start FBA with Amazon UAE and fulfillment by some other online stores as well.
Please let me know what type of Business license exactly I required to run this business in UAE and KSA ?
Early response will be highly appreciated.
BR,
Malik

Elly Stanley March 16, 2020 11:45:23

Hi Alexandra, I’m very interested in starting a drop shipping store in the UAE but have no idea about the legal side and the cost implications to that. Can I get step by step information on this and the costs involved?
Many thanks Elly.

    Olga L. March 17, 2020 13:45:32

    Hi Elly, thank you for your interest!
    Our dedicated manager will get in touch with you soon – please, check your email 🙂

Amjad Al-masri April 19, 2020 15:07:39

Hello Olga, hope all is well
I am living in Oman, I would appreciate it if you could explain more about the rules and regulations that has to be followed regarding opening a drop-shipping business in this country, and some information about what type of payment that might work or not work down here.
Thank you for your time

    Olga L. April 20, 2020 4:42:13

    Hi, thank you for your interest!
    To accept and process online payments in Oman, you can safely use PayPal or 2Checkout.
    To learn more about the legal aspects of registering an online business business and paying taxes in Oman, kindly consult your local lawyers for the latest and most accurate law updates.

Zakaria April 19, 2020 21:50:10

Hi Olga

I am UAE resident and I have set up my LLC in Delware US, I want to target UAE, do i still need a trade license to operate here

    Olga L. April 20, 2020 4:24:25

    Hi, thank you for your interest!
    No, if you’ve already registered your business in the USA, you don’t need a UAE trade license.

    Sam May 27, 2020 16:41:47

    Hello Olga. Is there a document that clarifies this law? From what I hear is that you need a UAE license to sell in the UAE. However, it does not make sense if as an online company I do not have any physical presence. From what I understand, software companies don’t have a license in every country they sell in, correct?

sharaf May 15, 2020 14:20:39

I want to start customs store but I want to know to register this business in UAE laws what license should I take-up if anyone can help me do let me know via email roxtar722@gmail.com.
I am very serious but I want to follow all the rules am thinking of free zone as it is the US market that I am focusing.

    Tega agambi July 2, 2020 15:53:42

    Hello am tega can I run a dropshipping store in Nigeria while am residing in the UAE? Because the issue of licensing is holding me back.? Or can I run. A dropshipping store in any country while residing in the UAE? Please I need clarity thanks

Natasha June 7, 2020 21:30:20

Hello …I’m a uae resident and I have just started my online shopify store …would like to know what is the best way to choose suppliers and what method of shipment can be used for uae …also what license is required for a online retail business of dropshiping ….also is cash on delivery an option with drop shipping? Are there any suppliers based in uae ?

ali June 9, 2020 8:06:28

Hello,,

Would like to know i am based in Dubai UAE and i want to start but not in local market i want to sell in USA or Canada so do we need to take license and what about Stripe can we get it with out license ??? kindly let me knw

    Olga L. June 12, 2020 9:11:44

    Hi, thank you for your interest!
    According to the results of our market research, if you’re launching an online business in the UAE, you need to get a license even if you’re selling to customers outside your country. You might need to consult your local lawyer to clarify the details.
    And speaking of Stripe, kindly read this article about registering there: https://alidropship.com/register-dropshipping-business-us-get-credit-card-payments-stripe/

Vancho June 26, 2020 14:13:40

Hi,

i am Dubai resident and want to sell products from my country (Eastern Europe) to Dubai (some established ecom and supermarkets).
please advise legal and other applicable procedures to legally and smoothly start selling the goods.
Do i need certificates, testing, …? (it’s food, sweets, teas, juices, snacks,…).
Much appreciated

    Olga L. June 29, 2020 3:58:16

    Hi, thank you for your your interest!
    The business model you’re describing is not exactly dropshipping (as dropshipping typically doesn’t deal with food & beverages). These types of products will most certainly require some certification, which is why we can only recommend you contact your local lawyers to see how to launch and register such a business.

Marc July 1, 2020 13:50:58

Hi,
I have a trade license in UAE, please advise what is the best payment provider available on shopify to proceed.
PayTap doesn’t support dropshipping

    Olga L. July 3, 2020 7:38:08

    Hi, thank you for your interest!
    You might want to consider 2Checkout, PayTabs, or Tap

Omar July 6, 2020 20:30:59

Hello Olga,
I’ve been in UAE for 12 years ..
Can you please advise regarding a very important point which is the delivery time from China to UAE? This is a key changing factor. It is not useful to sell products “online” and get them delivered after 20 – 60 days ! Such a long delivery time might kill your e-Store.

What do you think?

    Olga L. July 8, 2020 8:43:47

    Hi, thank you for your interest!

    A customer is ready to wait 14+ days for the product to be delivered IF:
    – this is a product that’s not available for purchase from any other store
    – this is a non-urgent product (not an item of a medical/healthcare purpose)
    – this is a low-cost product that was purchased impulsively

    Therefore, your store can perform well if it offers unusual, non-typical products that cause a strong emotional reaction.

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