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SaaS sales in Dubai - Do I need to register a freezone company?

My company creates valet parking automation software that is cloud-based and runs on Apple hardware with 2D/3D barcode-scanner peripheral attachments.

Currently we are based out of Toronto, Canada and are looking to enter the Dubai market. I spoke extensively with companies that are willing to sell us freezone business licenses and visas, however, is this even necessary?

Our clients are 4.5+ star hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls, however, due to the SaaS subscription model, we are wondering if we need to waste money opening a freezone business just to have a local bank account and address.
I'm sure there are plenty of subscription services that are paid for from Dubai in foreign currency, for example, Dropbox subscription, etc.

Is it possible to do business with these clients and expect them to be able to pay invoices to a Canadian business?

2 Replies

Ross Meador
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Ross Meador Advisor
Business Attorney Specializing in Corporate Law, Contracts, Securities, IP Protection and Licensing
Adam,
Your instincts are correct. In general you should not need to open an office in Dubai (freezone or non-freezone) to sell software to local clients. Same goes for visas.
Karl Schulmeisters
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Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap
Depends. If you want to have a sales org in Dubai, you will need to have somesort of local business anchor.

If you just want to do SaaS sales, say based out of a web server in the EU or USA, you can do that, but you have the issue that you can't do personal service of your clients F2F. You can do the initial contracting, but not the local support
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