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British firms set up UAE offices – despite pandemic

British firms set up UAE offices – despite pandemic

The UAE’s newly relaxed residency laws and the promise of post-Brexit trade has prompted a slew of UK companies to set up offices there in 2021.

“When it comes to UK businesses setting up in the UAE, we saw like-for-like annual growth of 60% in Q1 2021,” said Nazar Musa, CEO of Pro Partner Group, a company that helps businesses set up in the UAE and the Gulf. He also told the Arabian Business website that companies coming to the UAE span a broad range of sectors such as marine, media, oil and education.

He said: “Despite the borders being closed, there has been consistent growth in the number of businesses setting up in the UAE. There is a great deal of interest from Europe in general and the UK.”

The UAE relaxed its employment laws because of the pandemic, introducing among other things remote working visas, retirement visas, citizenship for selected expats, 100% company ownership, and liberated laws around cohabitation and divorce – all with the aim of luring talented Brits and other nationalities to its shores.

An estimated 6,000 UK companies are already registered in the UAE, according to the UK Department for International Trade (DIT).

“We are keen to attract more businesses to the UAE as they look to expand outside of traditional markets like the European Union,” said Sarah Taylor, director of the UK DIT in the UAE. The DIT team is working with colleagues in the UK to enable companies to look at the UAE as a new export destination.”

Data from the UAE Ministry of Economy shows that the non-oil foreign trade between the UAE and UK was valued at AED36.6 billion ($10 billion) in 2019.