The Challenges of Setting Up in a New Country and How to Leverage Your Regional Service Providers

The Challenges of Setting Up in a New Country and How to Leverage Your Regional Service Providers

by Chris Atkinson in career
It has never been a better time to expand your business in the UAE, as the region enjoys steady growth from both homegrown and international ventures. The UAE was one of the fastest-growing GCC economies this year with the GDP at 2.6% after a spending boost, and the world bank predicts this is set to rise to 3% in 2020. 
After experiencing much of its prosperity thanks to the oil economy, the UAE is now focusing on boosting non-oil GDP with a wealth of opportunities available to business owners looking to take advantage of the bolstered economic regulations – and pharmaceutical companies are at the top of the list. 
Dubai in particular plans to become a global pharmaceutical manufacturing hub, just last year Pharmax announced a Dh125 million plant at Dubai Science Park in Al Barsha.  
Pharmaceutical, medical devices and life sciences organisations who are looking to expand into the Gulf region should take the current opportunity and offer of help by the nation’s economic laws in order to enjoy growth in the Emirates in the coming years. 
But starting or expanding your business in a new country comes with its own set of challenges that only a regional service provider such as a local recruiter can help with. In this article, I would like to talk you through the processes we, as UAE recruiters, undertake to help businesses expand in this prosperous region. 

Country Connections 

Since our origin in 2012, we have worked with both UAE nationals and international expatriates; this means we know first-hand what it is like to set up a business in the region, and we have been helping others using our local knowledge and experience ever since. 
Every new business needs the best possible calibre of employees, and in the GCC region it is essential to understand the nuances of both national and international employees, and how to utilise both for your pharma or medical devices company. 

National and International Employees 

Owing to strong local connections, regional service providers are able to put you in contact with the best pharmaceutical, medical devices and life sciences candidates already based in the country.  
But going one step further, recruitment companies like Kinetic who have an international understanding can provide you with global talent, too. 
Because of the current Emiratisation programme, there are certain laws surrounding local and expatriate candidates, and a regional service provider such as Kinetic will be able to guide your company throughout the entire process. 

Local Laws 

Setting up your business in the UAE means you will need to acquaint yourself with the local laws. There is a lot to unpack, but I will give you a brief synopsis here. There are two main ways to set up a business in the UAE – a mainland or a free zone company. 
For a mainland company, you will need to partner with a UAE citizen as your local sponsor who must hold shares in your company equal to at least 51% and the other 49% will be owned by the expat partners. Your local sponsor can essentially be a silent partner and have no say in your business if that is the way you prefer it.  
A free zone set up allows the international business owner to own 100% of the company, although you are only allowed to set up in a ‘free zone’ (essentially a designated area). While seemingly more restrictive, this relatively new kind of ownership is the choice of many emerging UAE businesses as there are so many free zones in the country and various benefits to the owner. 
There are currently more than 37 free zones in the UAE with 30 alone in Dubai. With longer visas and 100% foreign ownership welcomed, investors are looking set, to grow businesses with confidence in the region. 
The company formation system is overseen by the Department of Economic Development (DED) who are the government body enlisted to drive the economic agenda in Dubai and are dedicated to growing the economy and providing services to domestic and international investors and businesses. 

Cultural Differences 

It can be a challenge setting up in any new economy, but the UAE also brings with it a specific set of challenges thanks to its unique positioning within the world’s economy.  
Your regional service provider will be able to guide you through the regional and cultural issues that sometimes crop up when beginning a venture on a completely new playing field. 
For instance, in Dubai, your company name must indicate the nature of your business (unless it is a branch of another company) and unrelated names are prohibited – initials and abbreviations of names of company owners are also forbidden. Only a regional service provider will have encyclopedic knowledge of local laws, customs and norms that will help your business succeed. 

Local Recruiter 

In our experience, we recommend your first step in expanding your pharmaceutical, medical device or life sciences organisation should be to talk to a regional recruiter like our team at Kinetic. We have been helping businesses to grow in the UAE region for close to a decade, and we believe that now is the most exciting time to expand your company here.  

How Kinetic Can Help 

Kinetic source professionals locally and internationally for leading multinational, regional and local Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices companies, including Consumer Healthcare organisations.   

As such, we understand the niche requirements for all specialisms of this ever-increasing regulated industry. To find out more about how we can help you in landing your next career progression, contact us today.  


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