Exporting to the UAE: Key things to consider

Exporting to the UAE: Key things to consider

Posted: Tue 19th Dec 2023

With the second-largest economy in the Arab world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a cultural crossroads regarded as one of the top 20 places to do business globally. Thanks to its strategic location, financial reserves and wealth of natural resources, the UAE is an economic powerhouse that's open to foreign investment.

But before you consider taking advantage of this huge market, you need to know what challenges you'll face when you start selling in this new environment.

To help you get everything in place, we've created a detailed guide that explains how your business can prepare to trade in the UAE.

Download now: Selling to customers in the UAE – A guide for SMEs in the UK

What the guide contains

Selling to the UAE: Main benefits and challenges

Learn about the many advantages that trading in the UAE, and its 40 Free Zones, offers UK businesses.

Gain insight into building a diverse customer base in the UAE and boosting your prospects. Find out how establishing your presence in the UAE can bolster your brand's global credibility and pave the way for international opportunities.

However, challenges do exist, such as the need to overcome cultural differences, strict import rules for certain products, and the dynamics of the local market. Find out how to navigate these challenges by being cautious, adaptable and well prepared.

Business culture in the UAE

The UAE is home to 200 nationalities and celebrates the meeting of Emirati, Arabic and international cultures. While people practise many faiths in the UAE, Islam is the predominant religion and governs much of culture and society.

Navigating its unique business culture requires careful consideration. In our comprehensive guide, you'll learn about the country's specific business customs and etiquette, including how to greet business partners and how to dress for meetings.

You'll also find guidance on how to behave in meetings and negotiations, and ways to build trust while forging strong business relationships.

Preparing to do business in the UAE

Expanding your small business into the UAE gives you a fantastic opportunity to grow, diversify and increase your sales, revenue and profits. While the UAE is a vast and lucrative market, there are many challenges to overcome first.

This section of the guide highlights the importance of first being clear on your reasons for exporting to the UAE. You'll find guidance on doing market research, which is vital in understanding the demands, preferences and competitive landscape.

Find out what methods and resources you can employ when analysing consumer behaviour, identifying target demographics, and assessing market trends. The guide also explains how a well-crafted business plan serves as a roadmap for success.

Getting your goods out of the UAE

Exporting goods from the UK to the UAE means planning carefully and following specific procedures.

In this section of the guide, you'll learn the various steps of the exporting process, such as getting an EORI number, securing an export licence (if necessary), determining the appropriate incoterms for your shipments and checking for trade barriers.

It also covers the crucial aspects of making a customs declaration and arranging for transportation.

Getting your goods into the UAE

Successfully navigating UAE Customs is vital in making sure your goods enter the country seamlessly.

This part of the guide provides insights into completing the relevant documentation, preparing a detailed packing list, and addressing the strict rules and regulations around food and drink products.


Knowledge is power! Equip yourself with the right tools to sell to customers in the UAE. Download our guide tailored for UK small businesses.

Learn how to sell to customers in the UAE

Knowledge is power! Equip yourself with the right tools to trade successfully in the UAE. Download our guide tailored for small businesses like yours

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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