Dubai may have made its name in energy, financial services, construction and other traditional sectors, but today, its economy is one of the world’s most forward-thinking and digitally advanced.
This is particularly evident in the country’s entertainment sector. As well as providing the backdrop for numerous blockbusters, including Mission Impossible, Fast & Furious and Star Trek, the emirate is also at the forefront of SFX, esports, live music and all manner of media production.
With the MENA region’s media and entertainment revenues forecast to grow by 9.5% CAGR to USD 99.4bn in 2025, there’s no better time to start your business at its heart – in Dubai.
Introduction: Dubai’s entertainment industry
Dubai is well established as the region’s media and entertainment hub, with its film industry leading the way.
As well as those I’ve already mentioned, the emirate was a filming location for Syriana, Dune, Gran Turismo, and plenty more big-budget Hollywood films. With Dubai’s leaders setting a target for its cinema industry to be among the top 10 global markets for box office revenues, we can expect many more to be added to this list.
To achieve this aim, Dubai is investing in state-of-the-art sound stages, post-production studios and other vital infrastructure.
The music industry is also flying high here. As well as its international Dubai Opera, Dubai Jazz and RedFestDXB festivals, prestigious gigs by the likes of Eminem, Beyonce and Drake have put the emirate’s music scene on the map.
At the same time, the UAE’s digital music revenues are expected to grow significantly, up to USD 62 by 2026.
As well as excelling in the traditional entertainment arena, Dubai is also staking its claim in modern media markets. Along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE is the largest player in a MENA gaming segment estimated to be worth 6bn by 2027.
Needless to say, these vast markets present incredible opportunities for Dubai’s media businesses in the years ahead.
How to Start an Entertainment Business in Dubai: Step-by-step
With the right support, setting up an entertainment business in the UAE can be fast, straightforward and hassle-free.
When you work with Worldwide Formations, we’ll guide you through the following four-step process.
Step 1: Choose your setup type and company name
The first decision to make when starting an entertainment business in the UAE is whether you will do so alone or in partnership.
In both cases, you can apply for a business license in the UAE mainland or in a Dubai free zone. When setting up alone, you have the choice of starting a business or applying for a freelancer license.
At this stage, you should also choose your company name. Your Worldwide Formations contact will ensure it meets Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) requirements and is available to register.
Step 2: Apply for your license and additional approvals
With these early decisions made, you can apply for your trade license. If you are setting up in the Mainland, the DED will handle your application. You can apply directly to the relevant managing authority if setting up in a free zone.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to apply to the National Media Council (NMC) for additional approvals.
As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a copy of your passport and other essential documentation.
Once again, the team at Worldwide Formations will help you get your application in order, ensuring all required paperwork is present and correct.
Step 3: Apply for your UAE visa
You will also need a UAE visa to live and work here. If applying to start a business in a free zone, this is usually handled as part of your license application.
When setting up in the Mainland, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai (GDRFAD) will handle your application. As part of this process, you will be required to undergo a blood test and medical examination.
Step 4: Open a bank account
Finally, you will need a UAE bank account to operate your business in Dubai. The Worldwide Formations team are on hand to guide you through this process.
Cost of starting an Entertainment Business in Dubai
The cost of starting an entertainment business in Dubai starts at around AED 20,000. However, the total outlay is likely to be higher.
As well as your license and visas, you will need to consider the cost of staff, premises, marketing, equipment and much more. Depending on your business activities, there may also be ongoing costs for permits and approvals.
For a full and personalised breakdown of the costs involved in starting your Dubai entertainment business, get in touch with Worldwide Formations.
How to market an entertainment business in Dubai
Starting your business is just the first step. In the competitive entertainment industry of Dubai, you need to make it stand out, too.
Here are a few of the best ways to get your offering in front of your desired audience.
It may sound obvious, but an online presence is key when marketing your media business in Dubai. But you’d be surprised how many new businesses fall at this hurdle. Your website, company listings and social media channels must be engaging and informative, backed by a constant stream of valuable content.
Word of mouth is a crucial currency in Dubai. Whether you choose to work from a media-related free zone, make new connections in a coworking space or attend more formal events, networking is a must in the media world.
There’s no substitute for direct contact. If you can provide a service to Dubai’s entertainment businesses, don’t be afraid to get in touch and tell them.
Whether you’re an SFX whizz, a master in event planning or the next best thing in gaming, there are people out here in need of your skills.
Pay for promotion
Paid promotion has its place alongside organic growth. Take the time to find out where your target audience spends their time and optimise targeted ads to reach them wherever they are.
Depending on the nature of your business, this could be media advertising, Facebook or LinkedIn banners, Google display ads and more. Find the one that’s right for you and put your business out there.
How can Worldwide Formations help?
Founded in 2008, Worldwide Formations is one of the region’s leading corporate advisory service providers, offering comprehensive solutions for businesses and entrepreneurs in the UAE.
We’re trusted by over 10,000 clients in more than 90 countries to provide tailored, expert assistance on all things related to business setup in Dubai, from licensing and visas to accounting, taxation, financial audits, and more.
With Worldwide Formations, starting an entertainment business in Dubai is a fast and hassle-free experience. Want to know more? Get in touch today for a free, no-obligation consultation.