Start a Pharmacy in Dubai, UAE (Costs and Requirements)

start a pharmacy in Dubai

Launching your own pharmacy can be a fantastic way to run your own business while helping your local community manage its health conditions. What is more, opening a pharmacy could also be a smart move financially.

For example, data shows that the UAE’s online pharmacy market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9% in the next five years, which suggests strong demand for medication. More generally, healthcare businesses in the UAE were growing fast even before the pandemic, with healthcare spend reaching $18.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 and projected to reach $21.3 billion this year. Opening a pharmacy in Dubai will allow you to access this growing market.

To open an independent pharmacy in Dubai, it is most common for the business owner to be a trained pharmacist him- or herself, with accreditation from the Dubai Health Authority. That said, sometimes the business owner isn’t a pharmacist, so may choose to hire a pharmacist to actually administer medication and treatments to customers. Another option is to open a franchise for one of the many big pharmacy chains in Dubai.

Whichever approach you take, the following guide to starting a pharmacy in Dubai, UAE, will give you a good idea of the key steps involved.

Why start a pharmacy in Dubai?

Starting a pharmacy in Dubai could be a smart move for several reasons, including: 

There is a rapidly growing market

As the data above shows, the market for healthcare products and services in the United Arab Emirates is growing rapidly. What is more, the country’s population as a whole is continuing to expand – which means that you will have access to a large and growing market of potential consumers looking to purchase your medication and treatments.

Low tax rates

Pharmacies in Dubai benefit from a very competitive tax rate, which means you will retain more of your turnover, and this can be reinvested in your business.

A rewarding career

Pharmacists help to treat sick people and improve the health and wellbeing of their communities. With your knowledge of human physiology, and different treatments which can relieve pain and sickness, you can really improve other peoples’ quality of life – and that can make for a very rewarding career.

5 steps to start a pharmacy in Dubai

Pharmacists are responsible for administering drugs and treatments to patients, so this is a highly responsible job. There are several key steps you must complete when trying to open a pharmacy in Dubai:

Step one: Get pharmacy certification and register with healthcare authorities

Before you start a pharmacy business in Dubai, you will first need to hold a pharmacy certificate from a recognised medical training institute. If you are not a pharmacist yourself but plan to employ one, you will need to verify that they have the appropriate qualifications.

Pharmacists need to have at least two years’ professional experience in the trade, and complete a pharmacy evaluation from the Ministry of Health and Prevention before opening their own business. You will also need to be able to speak both Arabic and English.

Before you can start trading as a pharmacist you will also need to get approval from the Health Regulation Department. The Dubai Health Authority will also conduct a site assessment of the premises where you plan to open your pharmacy. You may also need to undergo a medical examination yourself. This entire process can take around 20 days to complete.

Step 2: Choose and register a Dubai company name

If you want to start a pharmacy in Dubai, you will need to select a company name. Your Dubai pharmacy company name must meet strict naming conventions which avoid the use of any acronyms (for example, ‘Suresh Patel Pharmacy’ is OK, but ‘SP Pharmacy’ would not be allowed). Any names which could be viewed as offensive or blasphemous must also be avoided.

Step 3: Apply for your trading licence 

The next step in starting a pharmacy in Dubai is to apply for a trade licence from the Department of Economic Development. You will need to fill in an application form where you provide information about the business, its address, details about its founders, as well as send over a copy of your passport and two colour passport-sized photos.

Step 4: Decide on your business structure

When you are starting a pharmacy business in Dubai you can choose to operate as either a limited liability company or a sole establishment.

Most pharmacy businesses in Dubai are limited liability companies and the process of applying is relatively straightforward. If you are not a UAE national yourself, you will need to find a local partner who will be a majority shareholder (owning at least 51% of shares).

Alternatively, you can operate as a sole establishment, which means you will have complete control over the business. But this approach has certain drawbacks. You will need to make a major upfront investment by yourself. Also, the business and your own personal wealth are not separated – which could potentially be risky if your pharmacy were to ever be sued.   

Step 5: Choose your location and begin trading

To open a pharmacy in Dubai you must choose premises which comply with specific standards for a pharmacy and get them approved. It is also important to ensure that the location is appropriate and likely to receive a good amount of footfall. Pharmacists must also make a significant upfront investment in stock and manage this efficiently.

Documents required to start a pharmacy in Dubai, UAE

If you wish to start a pharmacy in Dubai, you will need to gather the following documents: 

  • Approval to trade from the Health Regulation Department
  • Your pharmacy certificate from a recognised education provider
  • Your CV showing at least two years of experience
  • The contract on your premises
  • Your pharmacy licence from the Dubai Health Authorities
  • A copy of your residency visa
  • Details of your corporate bank account
  • A completed trading licence application form
  • A copy of your passport
  • Two colour passport-size photos

At Worldwide Formations, we can provide you with more detail on the exact documents you will need to start your pharmacy business in Dubai.

Pharmacy licence cost in Dubai

Applying for a pharmacy licence in the United Arab Emirates will cost between 10,000 and 12,000 AED. The exact fee will vary depending on your business model, location, the structure you choose and the number of employees you plan to hire.

To get a more detailed breakdown of all the costs associated with applying for a Dubai pharmacy licence, contact Worldwide Formations. Our experienced consultants can give you a clearer idea of the likely costs involved.

Why work with Worldwide Formations?

Worldwide Formations is a highly experienced company formation consultancy in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. We have worked with many pharmacists who were looking to set up a business in Dubai and who turned to us for support with all aspects of the application process.

When you are trying to set up a pharmacy business in Dubai, there are so many things to think about, from ordering stock to finding staff through to scouting out potential locations and developing your marketing plan. By using the services of Worldwide Formations, you can save hours or days of time completing administrative tasks – and focus instead on more high value activities that are vital for launching your pharmacy business.

For help and support starting your pharmacy in Dubai, contact Worldwide Formations today.

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The Fairmont Dubai,

Sheikh Zayed Road

PO 33964 Dubai, UAE

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