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Start a Gaming Business in Dubai, UAE

Guide to Start a Gaming Business in Dubai, UAE
Table of Contents

Gaming is one of the fastest-growing markets in the UAE. Since the pandemic, video games have become quite popular among UAE residents. In addition to that, the industry is expected to see significant growth in the upcoming years as well.

According to Statista, the revenue for the video gaming industry in 2024 is expected to reach US$420.90 million. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.40% till 2027. 

Hence, starting a gaming company in Dubai can be the right financial move for an entrepreneur. The city’s strategic location and commitment to innovation present lucrative opportunities to tap into the booming gaming market. 

This comprehensive guide will explore the process of starting a gaming business in Dubai, covering essential aspects such as business planning, licensing, location selection, financing, regulatory compliance, and marketing strategies.

Why Start a Gaming Business in Dubai?

Dubai is a pioneer in the latest tech innovations and deals in the field of AR and VR. Starting a gaming business here provides a number of benefits, including:

Strategic location and infrastructure

Dubai is strategically placed at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The city offers world-class infrastructure with advanced transportation and communication, making it ideal for starting a business. Additionally, Free Zones in Dubai allow for 100% foreign ownership with 100% repatriation of profits. 

You can find more opportunities to grow your business and scale it to global markets from the UAE.

Big Investments in AR & VR Industry

The UAE is a pioneer in investing in emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The country also has a business-friendly environment with favourable regulations and incentives. As the country keeps investing in these spaces, it will only boost the gaming sector’s growth and prospects.

Thriving digital and entertainment industry

Dubai’s digital and entertainment industries keep flourishing. People here have a growing appetite for innovative gaming experiences. E-gaming is trending, and with innovative technologies like VR and AR, new users are also taking an interest. This environment is ideal for gaming companies to collaborate with complementary industries to find more growth opportunities. 

Access to a diverse and tech-savvy customer base

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures with a diverse and tech-savvy population. The majority of people own a smartphone, and most of them prefer to play mobile games, making it the most prominent gaming segment in the UAE. The mobile gaming market volume is expected to reach US$173.6 million in 2024. The user penetration rate will also increase from 14.7% in 2024 to 15.9% by 2027.

This ensures that there will be more users and gamers in the country in the upcoming years. Also, Dubai has a high GDP, which means people here have high disposable incomes. All these factors make Dubai a lucrative market to start a gaming company. 

Process of Start a Gaming Business in Dubai, UAE

Starting a gaming business in Dubai requires careful planning and a strategic approach. You must also follow all regulations properly to avoid any issues later.

Step 1. Developing a Business Plan

The first step is to develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your company’s 

  • Vision 
  • Target audience 
  • Product offerings 
  • Revenue model 
  • Operational strategies 
  • Financial projections 

The business plan will provide a roadmap to help you stay on the right track. It must also align with your short-term and long-term goals based on the type of gaming business you choose to start.

Step 2. Select the Type of Gaming Business

Gaming is a broad industry with multiple business opportunities. You can do some research to find what kind of business caters to different segments of the market. Here are some of the most common types of gaming businesses.

Game Shop

A game shop is a retail outlet that sells video games, consoles, and gaming accessories. The game shop usually deals in hardware, such as gaming disks, headphones, and gaming chairs. It provides a physical space for gaming enthusiasts to explore and purchase their favourite products. To stay competitive, you can keep the latest games and accessories trending in the market. 

Esports

Esports has been getting popular lately with cross-country tournaments. To name a few opportunities in the market, you can establish a gaming arena, manage esports teams, or even host tournaments. The esports industry is expanding rapidly across the globe, and tapping into it can be a wise business decision. 

Game Lounge & Arcade

Game lounges and arcades are areas where gamers hang out to play games or take some time off to relax. Usually, people who can’t play games at home or seek competition visit such gaming zones. You basically charge people to play games in your lounge. With the proper marketing, it can be a lucrative business model. Most gamers prefer competitive gaming, and arcades give them access to gamers who are also looking for the same thing.

Game Studio

Game studios focus on developing and publishing video games for various platforms, such as consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. However, you require a considerable amount of investment and time to start a gaming studio. Also, profits only start to come once you start selling the games. However, it is the most financially fulfilling venture and offers a creative outlet for talented game designers and developers.

Step 3. Location Selection

Dubai offers two main options for setting up a gaming business: Free Zones or the Mainland.

Free Zones, such as Dubai Internet City or Dubai Silicon Oasis, provide attractive benefits like 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and a supportive ecosystem for technology-based businesses.

Alternatively, entrepreneurs can choose to establish their gaming business on the Dubai Mainland, which may require partnering with a local sponsor. 

Regardless of the location, you must find a suitable space that maximises visibility if you start a shop or lounge.

The space must receive maximum footfall from the target audience, such as gaming enthusiasts and technology-savvy individuals.

Step 4. Obtaining Trade Licence and Permits

To legally operate a gaming business in Dubai, entrepreneurs must obtain the necessary trade licences and permits from the relevant authorities. These may include

  • A trade licence from a relevant registrar such as Freezone Authority or Local Authority (DED)
  • Entertainment licence 
  • Event Permit 
  • Software development licence 
  • Esports event licence

The type of trade licence you need depends on the kind of gaming business you choose to start and the activities you will perform. For instance, if you host esports tournaments, you will need an Esports event licence. However, you will not require this licence if you just own a gaming shop.

Step 5. Securing Financing and Capital Requirements

Starting a gaming business in Dubai requires significant capital investment for factors such as licensing, infrastructure, hiring talent, marketing, and product development. In some instances, the initial investment might be lower, but you must still explore options to ensure there will be enough funds. Entrepreneurs can explore options other than personal investments, such as bank loans, venture capital, or angel investors.

Step 6. Compliance with Regulations

The gaming industry in the UAE is regulated, with certain types of gaming activities being prohibited due to cultural or religious considerations. It is crucial to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations, including those related to content, advertising, and consumer protection. Non-compliance can result in fines, penalties, or even termination of your business licence. It is essential always to remain compliant with Dubai authorities to ensure smooth operations.

Cost of starting a gaming business in Dubai

The cost of starting a gaming business in Dubai can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as 

  • Business structure 
  • Location 
  • Licensing fees 
  • Staffing requirements 
  • The scale of operations. 

Find below the approx. Cost of Starting a Gaming Business in Dubai, UAE:

DescriptionMainlandFree zone
License RegistrationAED 15,000AED 14,900
Labour & Immigration RegistrationAED 1,750Aed 2,000
Visa Cost (Per Investor)AED 4,100AED 3,750
Employee Visa Cost (Per Employee)AED 8,000As per Freezone Authority
Office Rent CostBased on Client needBased on Client need
Operational costs such as Utility Bill, Salary, Transportation, Accommodation, and MarketingBased on your business NeedsBased on your business Needs
Cost of Gaming Business in Dubai, UAE

Note*: The Cost displayed in the table is just an estimated cost of your gaming business registration in Dubai, UAE, and does not include the service fees.

For a gaming shop, you might need to rent a space, bear the company registration and licence fee, hire 1-2 staff, and that’s all. However, for a game studio, you may need a larger space with 5-10 employees to work on various verticals of design and development.

Entrepreneurs should carefully consider factors like rent, equipment costs, marketing expenses, and legal and professional fees. Additionally, developing or acquiring gaming products can be a significant investment. Conducting thorough market research and financial planning is advisable to ensure a realistic understanding of the costs involved.

You can also consult with a business consultancy firm to get a complete understanding of all costs involved based on your business structure and requirements. A consultant can also help you find ways to reduce company registration as well as operations costs initially.

Marketing and Growth Strategies

Effective marketing and growth strategies are crucial for the success of any gaming business in Dubai’s competitive market. Here are a few marketing tactics you can implement to scale.

Traditional Advertising Methods

Dubai is at the forefront of digital innovation. Yet, you must pay attention to traditional advertising methods such as print media and boards. These methods can still prove quite effective, especially when you have a gaming lounge or shop. When you own a brick-and-mortar shop, traditional advertising methods become essential as you want people to find you. With signs, boards, and pamphlets, you can easily reach the right audience and capture their attention in real-time.

Digital Marketing and Social Media

Leveraging online platforms and social media is mandatory to promote your gaming business in Dubai. You can increase brand awareness and expand your reach using online marketing effectively. A solid online presence targeted advertising campaigns, influencer marketing, and engaging content creation can help businesses connect with their target audience.

Participating in Gaming Events

Gaming events are hosted all over the world today, and it is one of the growing industries. You can participate in such events and exhibitions to network with industry professionals and potential customers. Participating in these events can be a powerful marketing strategy and a platform for building brand recognition.

Sponsor Gamers in Esports

Sponsoring popular gamers or esports teams can be an effective way to gain exposure and build a loyal fan base within the gaming community. Your brand will get promoted internationally if your sponsored gamers or teams attend events in other countries. As esports events are becoming global in nature, such partnerships can also provide valuable insights into consumer preferences and emerging trends around the world.

How Avyanco Consultancy Can Help with Gaming Business Setup in Dubai, UAE?

Starting a gaming business in Dubai can be challenging for international entrepreneurs who are unfamiliar with the local market dynamics and regulatory environment. Avyanco Consultancy offers comprehensive support to streamline the process and maximise your chances of success.

Our team of consultants has in-depth knowledge of the UAE’s gaming industry to provide expert guidance throughout the entire process. We have more than 10 years of experience helping with everything from market research to company formation, licensing, and ongoing compliance support for entrepreneurs like you.

We offer end-to-end services to help you start a gaming business in Dubai and scale it to global levels. Our business registration services include:

  • Business planning and strategy development
  • Assistance with company registration and trade licence acquisition
  • Advisory services on location selection and business structure
  • Guidance on securing financing and meeting capital requirements
  • Regulatory compliance and legal advisory services
  • Marketing and growth strategy development
  • Ongoing support and consultancy services

By partnering with Avyanco Business Setup Consultancy, you do not have to deal with the complexities of starting a new business in Dubai. We increase your chances of success significantly so you can move forward confidently.

We offer the expertise of industry professionals so you can benefit from a streamlined and efficient setup process.

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About the Author

jashvant-avyanco-business-setup-consultancy-ceo

Jashvantkumar Prajapati

(Founder and CEO of Avyanco Group of Companies; Business Setup Consultancy, Avyanco Tax and Accounting LLC, and Avyanco Auditing LLC.)

He keeps a varied portfolio with core expertise in investment management, corporate structuring, commercial law, business consultancy, lead management, business planning and market research. Aspire to help potential entrepreneurs and investors to come ahead and form their companies in highly emerging economies like UAE.