How to Start Restaurant Business in Dubai

If you have an affinity for cooking and doing a business rolled into one, this blog is for you. We will talk about how to open and successfully run a restaurant business in Dubai. Use this guide to make your restaurant business setup in Dubai easier. 

2024 facts: 

  • The UAE Food Market stands at US$35.37bn 
  • Dubai has 13,000 fully operational restaurants and cafes
  • Confectionery and snacks dominate the market

For businesses in the restaurant industry, The Food Control Department of the Dubai Municipality has devised a system called ‘Food Code’ for different categories of food businesses.

Restaurants, cafeterias, and cafes belong to a specific category and therefore reflect a particular food code. Other categories that require a food labeling system are as follows: 

  • Restaurants built within supermarkets or malls
  • Mobile food providers and kiosk vendors
  • Food business within educational institutions and hospitals
  • Bakeries and confectioners

Now let’s discuss the steps, legalities, and other essential things you will need before venturing into the restaurant business. 

Firstly, it’s crucial to have a set business plan. Dubai has roughly 4.7 million tourists annually, plus around 3.49 million residents, so eating out will always be in demand. Nevertheless, as lucrative as the business opportunities, there is cut-throat competition in Dubai’s restaurant business, primarily due to the high influx of people from diverse backgrounds demanding a variety of cuisines. 

After your business plan is set, obtaining a suitable restaurant business license is crucial.

Formation Steps for Restaurant Business in Dubai 
  1. Outline the business activities that your restaurant will be engaged in. Note that the Ministry allows up to 10 different activities under one license
  2. Decide the industry/category your restaurant will operate under. The three main types are Professional, Industrial, and Commercial
  3. Briefly outline the legal status of your business.
  4. Pick an enticing trade name
  5. Apply for a trade license

After receiving the trade/business license, getting a Food License is crucial. The Food Safety Department is responsible for issuing this license in Dubai. This license is a must to receive approval and start the construction of your restaurant. 


The Department will require the following documents:
  • A trade license copy or primary approval 
  • Blueprint of the layout/restaurant plan, which should include:
  1. The entrance and exit routes
  2. Area for food processing
  3. Food storage area
  4. Ventilation system and windows
  5. A location where the meal preparation equipment will be located
  6. Other equipment 

Among the licenses required, these further licenses are also needed: 

  1. License for food consignment release 
  2. Vehicle permit for transporting food products
  3. Pork permit for serving pork (if you wish to serve pork at your restaurant)
  4. Alcohol License (if you want to serve liquor at your restaurant)

Next, every restaurant owner must have a rough idea of the costs they will incur in advance. 

Before operating a restaurant, there are a few expenses to take into account:

  • License cost
  • Rent of the space 
  • Staff training and salaries
  • Insurance
  • Working capital 
  • Cost of setting up (kitchen equipment, tables, chairs)
Considerations for a Successful Restaurant Business Setup: 
  • Choosing a location that is accessible and has the demographic your restaurant wants to attract. 
  • Determining the USP and the concept/idea. Make sure it aligns with your goals. To set up a restaurant business in Dubai, always remember to bring something unique to the table; you want to be aware of thousands of competitors. 
  • Craft a menu. Set the correct prices and offer services according to the price.
  •  Hire qualified staff. This will help indicate the value of your restaurant. Train them according to the standard you want to maintain and ensure they are friendly. 
  • Invest in sound technology. Manage the workload with the right software to keep the restaurant’s structure easy-going. Also, use technology to make meals more presentable and reduce cooking time. 

At first, starting a restaurant could seem like a tedious process, but if done well, it can be rewarding. Dubai offers fantastic chances and a robust platform for aspiring business owners. Reach out to a professional business consultant if you need clarification on the steps you need to take to set up a restaurant business in Dubai.