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International Business in Dubai Requires Due Diligence

International Business in Dubai Requires Due Diligence

Start a criminal justice degree at American Public University.

By Kim Miller, Ph.D.
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University

Note: This article is part of a series on international business due diligence. This article concentrates on Dubai.

Doing business internationally comes with both advantages and risks. When you’re considering a business opportunity in Dubai, the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), minimize your risk by performing focused due diligence before you make costly business decisions.

Options for Investigating Dubai Businesses

There are many sites to help you investigate businesses in Dubai. Here are some of the options:

1. UAE Free Zones

According to its site, UAE Free Zones is “an industry leader in business consultancy and company formation in the UAE for over a decade.” This site assists entrepreneurs who do not have the knowledge or resources or the experience to start their business in the UAE.

2. Zawya

Zawya provides business intelligence and a directory of companies in Dubai.


DMCC is home to more than 15,000 businesses. That includes brokers, banks, commodities exchanges, business support firms and professional services companies.

4. UAE Business Directory

This directory can be used to search for international and local companies in cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.

5. Du and Etisalat

In Dubai, there are several telecommunication service providers (Etisalat is owned by the government). These telecommunications companies are also a useful way to investigate companies by confirming a business’s physical presence in Dubai.

Litigation Research Sites

To determine and/or verify any litigation regarding a company, the investigator would utilize The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII). The World Legal Information Institute offers a compendium of global legal research facilities developed collaboratively by a number of legal information institutes and law faculties. Searches concerning businesses in the United Arab Emirates include:

Sharia Court Information

The court system for UAE comprises Sharia courts and civil courts. The Sharia courts have existed since the time of the Ottoman Empire when they functioned as the official court of the State.

According to the UAE Government website, “To achieve the full extent of justice, the UAE adopts three levels of courts for litigation purposes. This system enables effected party to challenge the case and present more evidence within the provisions of the law. The courts’ degrees in the UAE are:

  • Court of First Instance (federal and local)
  • Court of Appeal (federal and local)
  • Federal Supreme Court (at the federal level) and the Court of Cassation at the local level of the emirates which have independent judicial departments.

“If the ruling of the Court of First Instance is not satisfactory, it can be challenged before the Court of Appeal and then the Court of Cassation according to the provisions of Federal Law No. 11 of 1992, as amended by Law No. 10 of 2014 concerning the Civil Procedural Law”.

Checking Company Names in Dubai

The Dubai Chamber is an excellent way to determine the legitimacy of a company in Dubai. This website offers several directories, organized by category or first name.

Investigating Patents in Dubai

To determine and/or verify the patents owned by a company, the investigator would utilize the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). It assists applicants in seeking patent protection internationally for their inventions, helps patent offices with their patent granting decisions, and facilitates public access to a wealth of technical information relating to those inventions. By filing one international patent application under the PCT, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in a very large number of countries.

Related link: The Assembly Members of the PCT

Reviewing Dubai’s Economy

To determine “the poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development” of Dubai, the investigator would utilize The World Bank. The World Bank says that the “GDP growth in the UAE is estimated to have slowed considerably from 3.0 percent in 2016 to 0.8 percent in 2017.” The bank’s website goes on to note: “On the demand side, a contraction in private consumption and slowdown in gross fixed investment were offset by a marked rebound in government consumption compared to 2016.”

Researching Intellectual Property Abroad

To determine and/or verify the intellectual property owned by the company, the investigator would utilize the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). According to its website, the World Intellectual Property Organization is “the United Nations agency dedicated to the use of intellectual property (patents, copyright, trademarks, designs) as a means of stimulating innovation and creativity.” This agency promotes the development and use of the international intellectual property (IP) system through services, development, law and infrastructure.

Regional News Sites Can Also Be Valuable Information Sources

With Nexis-Uni, you can search over 1,000 domestic and international newspapers. These searches include local news sites such as:

See Which Companies Have Been Denied Export Privileges

According to Cornell Law School, “The Denied Persons List is a list of people and companies whose export privileges have been denied by the [U.S.] Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. An American company or individual may not participate in an export transaction with an individual or company on the Denied Persons List.”

Is the Company on a Global Watch List? 

There are several sites where you can look up a company to see if anyone involved with that company is on a watch list. These sites include:

Check for Scam Companies with Scamwatch

Australia’s Scamwatch website is useful for researching foreign scams. Other scam sites include:

International Forums/Blogs Are Useful for Local News

Dubai-based blog sites can provide valuable information to researchers. What’s On Dubai is a particularly useful source for business and cultural news.

Check Out the Armed Conflict Database

Published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Armed Conflict Database provides information about armed conflicts around the world. You can generate reports, download data and browse year-by-year analyses and fact sheets to determine if there is armed conflict near the area where you want to locate your company.

Determine Terrorism Threats through TRAC

You can review a threat assessment regarding the city where your company is located at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). According to its website, TRAC is “one of the most comprehensive compendiums of information and analyses of terrorist groups and activities in the world.”

TRAC “provides accurate and in-depth information supplied by experts from across the globe. Master indices of known terrorist groups, affected or vulnerable regions, terrorist activities, and original articles are cross-referenced to an intuitive network of research.” Also, TRAC can identify cities vulnerable to terrorism.

You can also monitor the Chatter Control Room and view a threat assessment before making a business decision. According to LinkedIn, “TRAC’s ‘Chatter Control’ feature uses editors to manually trawl and monitor the internet according to their field of specialty, cataloging and archiving the most reliable information from across the Web to TRAC, and then links found material by association to our prodigious database of proprietary content.”

For example, recent chatter regarding Dubai included the following: “US Department of Treasury Sanctions Afaq Dubai, an Iraq-based money services business (MSB), for money laundering for the Islamic State -19 October 2018.”

Current Conflicts around Dubai

Researching active conflicts in the region also provides potentially useful information. The maps below show that Dubai does not have any current conflicts. However, there are other countries in the region with active conflicts:

Middle East conflictsMap courtesy of ©OpenStreetMap contributors and Leaflet.

Middle East Conflicts DubaiMap courtesy of ©OpenStreetMap contributors and Leaflet.

Due Diligence in International Business Has Benefits

If you want to do business abroad, doing due diligence beforehand can save you money. It is also a good method of evaluating the strengths and vulnerabilities of a potential business partner.

About the Author

Dr. Kim Miller is an adjunct professor of criminal justice in the School of Security and Global Studies at APU. Her academic credentials include a B.S. in Criminal Justice and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University, as well as a Ph.D. in Public Safety-Criminal Justice from Capella University. She is also a Certified Fraud Examiner, a New Jersey Licensed Private Detective, a Certified Paralegal and an investigative analyst.