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The No-Nonsense Guide to Doing Business in a World-Class Economy

Published in Sep-Oct 2021

Khurram Mahboob reviews UAE Business Essentials: Practical Legal Protections for Individuals, Entrepreneurs and SMEs

As I sit down to pen my thoughts about this book, something extraordinary has been brewing in the Emirates. The residents can feel the vibe building, the nation’s machinery exuding energy and the streets are looking and feeling truly global. The wait is almost over as Expo 2020 Dubai is less than a week away and Dubai will throw its doors open to unveil the world’s greatest show, featuring 191 pavilions and host over 25 million global community members.

For more than 168 years, world expos have brought people together to celebrate human achievements and solve global challenges. Expo 2020, a first in the region, will be ‘connecting minds, creating the future’ and unveiling game-changing innovations. Truly inspiring is the leadership’s groundbreaking vitality and vision to keep the nation ahead of the curve and ensure it remains the dominant regional economic hub and, globally, among the best places to work and live.

Traditionally, the UAE’s affluent lifestyles, connections to global markets and a strong logistics, retail, tourism and services infrastructure have been its economic engine drivers. However, in the last decade, the UAE has shifted gears somewhat, with the ambition to become a world-class global economy and, consequently, the focus of the government has turned towards attracting relevant talent while stepping up efforts to pioneer new technologies as part of a broader strategy of economic development and diversification. As such, Expo 2020 is only one of the many silver bullets aimed at strengthening the UAE’s position as a global innovation hub. This vision, with its focus on entrepreneurship and future readiness, is creating the perfect landscape to develop a knowledge-based economy and promote research and development and take the regional lead in new industries such as renewable energy, STEM, AI, space exploration, fintech and blockchain. The UAE was ranked ninth in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020 and is the only Arab country to have maintained its position among the top 10 competitive countries for four years in a row.

The UAE’s ‘impossible is possible’ branding is a magnet to attract investors and top quality business talent. Other strategic factors driving global entrepreneurs to the UAE are its cultural diversity, openness, favourable tax regime, as well as the recent amendments to the commercial laws that now give 100% expat ownership. Investors starting a business in the UAE can now become residents and sponsor their families and employees. Lastly, the extraordinary safety record, including being the world’s second safest country, makes it an ultimate dream place to be and is one of the core reasons why the UAE is well underway to becoming the innovation capital of the world.

The above, rather detailed, context was necessary to emphasise the perfect timing of the recently published UAE Business Essentials by Kamal Jabbar. Although the UAE ranks high in ease of doing business and is considered a start-up heaven, it can be overwhelming when establishing a new business. In fact, all nascent entrepreneurial minds will need preliminary guidance to understand the UAE’s legal system.

Jabbar is a lawyer by profession with extensive legal experience spanning 20 years, with the last decade spent practising in Dubai, and his book offers a refreshingly snack-sized view of the UAE business environment. This beginner-friendly guide walks readers through all the relevant information they will need. Correctly positioned as a ‘no-nonsense’ business guide, the book addresses aspiring entrepreneurs, new or existing investors as well as individuals seeking employment and provides all the essentials that constitute sound practical business advice. Easy to understand and refer to, this book is a composite of facts, short anecdotes, tips and actionable insights that will help readers spot opportunities, avoid mistakes, make informed decisions and be better equipped to handle setbacks. The book is conversational in tone and provides the right amount of information to guide readers through the initial phases of business, what to look out for in contracts, common pitfalls and ways to avoid them. A little shy of 90 pages, the 12 chapters highlight the following:

· How to navigate the initial phases and teething problems of starting up a business.

· The importance of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to safeguard valuable information, core considerations and their limitations.

· The importance of liability protection and the required documentation.

· Tips on how to register a business.

· The importance of intellectual property rights and the IP formats available for registration, including patents, copyrights and trademarks.

· Financing and fundraising options.

· Employment contracts considerations, non-compete provisions and employee incentive schemes.

· How to protect a business online.

· Consumer protection rights and compliance with consumer protection laws (CPLs).

· Salient aspects of UAE bankruptcy law, personal insolvency and protection against personal liability.

To conclude, here are four reasons I found this book “no-nonsense” and worth reading.

1 An excellent starter guide on the UAE’s business environment written in a clear, easy to comprehend way.

2 The perfect timing. Among other strategic initiatives, the UAE government recently launched ‘United Global Emirates’, an international campaign to highlight the benefits and incentives the UAE offers to help entrepreneurs go global and inviting talent from all over the world to make their ideas a reality.

3 It can be read in a single sitting or referred to as and when required. The key takeaways at the end of most chapters are a good content summary.

4 There is a bonus two-page book summary in the form of a downloadable PDF file that summarises the contents and includes a checklist.

UAE Business Essentials: Practical Legal Protections For Individuals, Entrepreneurs and SMEs
By Kamal Jabbar
89 pp $16.99
ISBN: 979-8469946618

Khurram Mahboob works for a blue-chip telecom company in the GCC region.*