What You Need to Know About Starting a Restaurant Business in Dubai

In order to get a restaurant license in Dubai, entrepreneurs have to acquire approvals from multiple government departments. These include the Department of Food & Safety, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and the Department of Economic Development (DED). First of all, you need to get the right type of food & restaurant license to set up a restaurant business in Dubai.

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Types of Restaurants to State on License Application

The Department of Economic Development issues a professional business license for service-related enterprises in the UAE. During the application for this license, entrepreneurs have to state the exact nature of the business. For example, activities they expect to conduct at their restaurant in order to legally serve their customers under the license.


Generally speaking, a professional license for ‘Restaurant’ activities allows for a business, which is housed in a properly equipped premises with a kitchen. That meets food and health safety standards, to prepare and serve food, snacks and beverages for the immediate consumption of their customers.


A similar license is issued for ‘Cafeteria’ activities. Which is applicable when an entrepreneur is starting a business where lighter meals and beverages are served. Whilst these are broad definitions, other food-related business activities are more specific.

Also Read: Top Things to Consider While Picking a Restaurant in Dubai

Ice Cream Shop or Sandwich Shop

For instance, if a business owner only wishes to open an ice cream selling business setup in Dubai. Then he or she will state ‘Ice Cream Shop’ on their license application. Similarly, if a business owner doesn’t intend to diversify after starting a sandwich business in Dubai. Then he or she will list ‘Sandwich Shop’ on their application.

Other specific business activities that can be stated on the application include:

  • Pastry Preparing (for both cooked and uncooked pastry businesses)
  • Coffee Shop (for selling coffee, tea, juices, biscuits and certain sweet cakes and ice-cream)
  • Sweets & Candies Preparing (for selling sweets, tea, soft drinks, cakes and candies)
  • Juice & Soft Drinks Preparing (for selling fresh juices)
  • Shisha Services (for shisha cafes)

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Fish & Meat Grilling

For restaurants where fish and meat is freshly cooked and packed for customers’ takeaway. The appropriate business activity category is ‘Fish & Meat Grilling’. The activity does not allow customers to be served at the premises.

Catering Service

Similarly, a business listed as ‘Catering Service’ on its license may prepare meals in their kitchens that are intended for contractual clients such as schools, hospitals, shipping companies, etc.

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Floating Restaurant or Floating Coffee Shop

Interestingly, restaurants that are located on boats, ships or yachts have a dedicated category called ‘Floating Restaurant’. Which authorises them to serve food and beverages on entertainment cruises, anchored ships and/or any sea vessel offering to dine on board.

There is also a separate category for ‘Floating Coffee Shop’. Which serves lighter meals such as coffee, tea, juices, biscuits and certain sweet cakes and ice-cream on boats and ships.

Oxygen Cafe

A more recent addition to the food-related business activities includes ‘Oxygen Cafe’ for the new crop of businesses that have started in Dubai. Oxygen Cafes supply pure or flavoured oxygen to customers as a stressbuster.

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Do you want to set up a restaurant business in Dubai? Experts at Decisive Zone can guide you about the requirements of starting any business in the UAE. They are specialised in offshore, free zone and mainland company set up in Dubai.

Visit their website www.decisivezone.ae or contact them at hello@decisivezone.ae or +971 4 584 7332 to get a free consultation from the industry experts.

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