opening a restaurant in dubai

          How to start restaurant business in Dubai

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          Dubai, the vibrant hub of the Middle East, is globally acclaimed for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, including its incredibly diverse food scene. The eclectic blend of nationalities in Dubai has shaped a unique food culture, providing robust business opportunities for both foodies and restaurateurs. Practically every day, there is a new restaurant opening in Dubai, showcasing the potential and dynamism of its food sector. In this article, we will walk you through a step-by-step guide to launching and successfully structuring your restaurant business in Dubai.

          Know the reasons why Dubai is an ideal location

          The robust tourism sector

          Dubai’s thriving tourism industry plays a significant role in the success of the restaurant business in Dubai. The city welcomes millions of tourists annually, many of whom are on the quest for new culinary experiences. Tourist hotspots like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, and Palm Jumeirah create ripe environments for restaurants to flourish.

          Vibrant food culture

          Dubai’s residents hail from over 200 nationalities, each contributing to a melting pot of cuisines. This cosmopolitan demographic triggers a culinary diversity unseen in most parts of the world. From fine dining and themed restaurants to food trucks and hole-in-the-wall eateries, business restaurants of all kinds have found success in Dubai.

          how to open restaurant in dubai

          Steps to Start a Restaurant Business in Dubai

          Creating a thorough business plan

          A comprehensive business plan is the blueprint of your restaurant’s future. It helps you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. It should define your food concept, target customers, and unique selling propositions. Here are two essential parts that need to be covered when you are opening a restaurant in Dubai:

          1. Defining your food concept: Whether you are planning a gourmet burger joint, a sushi bar, or an Indian curry house, a clear concept will differentiate your restaurant from the rest. Your concept should reflect in every aspect of your restaurant – from the décor and plating styles to the staff uniforms and marketing messages.
          2. Planning the budget: Your budget should cover the initial setup costs, ongoing operational expenses, and contingency funds. Be prepared for unexpected costs such as rise in food or rent prices, kitchen break-downs, or possibly slower than expected business growth.

          Understanding legal and regulatory requirements

          To run a restaurant in Dubai, understanding the legal requirements is crucial. Here’s what you need to know:

          Acquiring necessary licenses and permits

          In Dubai, you’ll need a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED), a construction license if you intend to undertake renovation works, and a Food & Safety license from the Food Control Department of Dubai Municipality.

          Understanding food and safety standards

          The UAE has strict food and safety standards to ensure public health. Adherence to the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) regulations is mandatory for all food businesses in Dubai. Violations of the standards can lead to hefty fines or closure of your restaurant.

          Licensing BodyLicense or Approval
          Dubai Department of Economic DevelopmentTrade License
          Dubai MunicipalityFood and Safety License
          Utility Providers (DEWA / SEWA /ADDC)Utility Approvals

          Note: This table includes only the primary licenses and approvals required to start a restaurant in Dubai. The requirements might vary based on your specific business model and location.

          open restaurant in dubai

          Scouting the Perfect Location

          Location can make or break your restaurant business in Dubai. Several factors should be taken into consideration, such as visibility, ease of access, footfall, and the presence of competitors. The decision of the location should ideally align with your brand image and target audience.

          Ideal localities for restaurant business

          Prime areas like Downtown Dubai or Jumeirah may sound appealing but are accompanied by sky-rocketing rents. Alternatively, suburbs like Karama or Al Quoz offer cheaper rents and have a high density of residents, promising high foot traffic. Carefully balance the benefits of a prestigious location against the higher costs it can entail.

          Calculating rents and operating costs

          In Dubai, restaurant rents are often quoted as a percentage of annual sales rather than a fixed amount. Ensure you include rent, staff salaries, utility bills, and cost of ingredients in your operating costs. Running these numbers can help you forecast business profitability and return on investment.

          Designing Your Restaurant

          The design of your restaurant should tell a story. Right from the entrance to the seating layout and light fixtures, every element contributes to creating an ambiance that complements your food and service.

          Key elements to consider

          Factors like ample space for the kitchen and storage, comfortable seating arrangement, and light & sound fixtures are essential. Remember, first impressions matter, and your restaurant’s design is commonly the first interaction customers have with your brand.

          Sourcing equipment and interiors

          Local suppliers are your best bet when it comes to sourcing interiors and commercial kitchen equipment. Not only can they provide customized solutions, but they can also offer after-sales services and maintenance – crucial for running a seamless restaurant operation in Dubai.

          Hiring the Right Staff

          Staffing is one of the critical aspects when it comes to opening a restaurant in Dubai. Here’s how to go about it:

          Roles to fill in your restaurant

          Typically, you would need to hire a General Manager, Chefs, Kitchen Staff, Servers, Cashiers and Cleaning Staff. Depending on the scale of your restaurant, you might also need to hire roles such as a Sommelier, Barista, and Delivery Personnel.

          Tips for successful hiring

          Look for experienced candidates with a customer-centric approach. Adequate local work experience can also be valuable due to familiarity with local food preferences and norms. Additionally, providing adequate training and maintaining a positive work environment can ensure lower staff turnover.

          is it profitable to open a restaurant in dubai

          Running your Restaurant successfully

          After the hard work of setting up, the focus shifts towards running the restaurant successfully.

          Effective marketing strategies

          Marketing is vital to increase brand visibility and attract customers. Social media, in particular, offers a cost-effective platform to engage with your audience and showcase your offerings.

          1. Importance of social media presence: Social Media platforms like Instagram and Facebook can be a great way to showcase your food and ambiance visually and attract a young and techno-savvy audience.
          2. Partnering with food delivery platforms: Collaborating with food delivery platforms like Zomato, Deliveroo, or Talabat can help expand your customer base and increase your revenue, especially in the wake of an increasing trend for online food ordering.

          Consistently delivering quality service

          Consistent quality in food and service is key to building loyal customers. Regular training of staff to meet service standards, and consistently refreshing your menu, can be a great way to keep customers coming back for more.

          Rising to the challenges

          Running a restaurant in Dubai comes with its unique set of challenges. Be it managing financial fluctuations or adapting to changing customer behavior, a successful restaurateur is one who can navigate these challenges.

          Conclusion – Crafting your restaurant success story

          The challenges of opening a restaurant in Dubai might seem daunting, but with careful planning, understanding the market, and persevering through the obstacles, crafting your restaurant success story is within reach. Your journey into the restaurant business in Dubai starts now. Embrace it, and you might just cook up something extraordinary.


          Q1: What type of cuisine is most popular in Dubai?
          A1: Due to the multicultural population of Dubai, there is a demand for diverse cuisines. However, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian cuisines have a significant presence given the demographic makeup of the city.

          Q2: How much does it cost to open a restaurant in Dubai?
          A2: The cost can vary widely based on factors like location, size, concept, and target market. As a rough estimate, setting up a small to medium scale restaurant can cost anywhere between AED 300,000 to AED 1 million.

          Q3: How long does it take to open a restaurant in Dubai?
          A3: The duration can vary based on factors such as obtaining approvals, interior fit-outs, and staff hiring. Generally, it can take between three to six months.

          Q4: What are the critical challenges in running a restaurant in Dubai?
          A4: Some of the challenges include high competition, fluctuating customer preferences, stringent food and safety standards, and managing operational costs.

          Q5: Is it profitable to run a restaurant in Dubai?
          A5: With the right business model, quality food and service, effective marketing, and efficient cost management, running a restaurant in Dubai can indeed be a profitable venture. However, like any business, it comes with its risks, and success can often take time. Patience and perseverance are key.

          Hi, I’m Omar Al-Harthi