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How to Start a Spa Business in Dubai?

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This article provides a brief overview of how to start a spa business in Dubai. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, please check the latest requirements as these can be subject to change.

The beauty sector is booming in Dubai and is a lucrative segment for talented professionals who know how to make someone feel like a million dirhams! Spas offer a variety of non-invasive beauty services such as hair care, manicures, pedicures, waxing, aromatherapy, and facials. Competition in the sector revolves around providing the ultimate pampering experience in a clean facility with skilled and friendly staff. Spas in Dubai are found within 5-star luxury hotels targeting the tourist market, and commercial and residential areas for the local market.

Understand the Local Spa Business

The UAE is the leading spa tourism market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Visitor numbers generated by the industry surge every year, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). Almost one million visits to the UAE are spa and wellness-related, representing an average annual growth rate of 17.9%. Dubai has been rated as the World’s Best Spa Destination by the World Spa Awards. The highest-grossing spas are all managed or affiliated with leading hotels in the city.

Another segment of the spa business sector focuses exclusively on Dubai residents. These are located in proximity to areas with a high concentration of expat residents with disposable income. The prices are lower than those focused on the tourist market. However, they are quite profitable through repeat business via client loyalty programs.

Cost for Spa License

Due to client expectations, starting a spa can be quite a costly endeavor in Dubai. You should set aside a minimum of AED 250,000 to start your business. The costs to consider can include things such as a lease for your premise. Construction work to make it compliant with Dubai municipality standards. Machinery and equipment fees, furniture, consumables, license fees, and staff wages.

If you are a UAE national, you can take advantage of various public and private sector schemes. These schemes assist local women in starting businesses with funding and other services. Some programs can help you write up a business plan and assist you with marketing your business during the early stage.

Location for Your Spa Business

As we have helped countless entrepreneurs open spa businesses over the years, we have a firm understanding of what critical factors distinguish those that succeed from those that flounder. The most vital factor is location. The best spots in town are highly competitive and therefore have higher costs. These locations allow you to charge premium fees and build a solid client base that can justify the high cost of the lease.

Alternatively, if you opt for a place with a low-cost lease, you may find yourself offering services at bargain prices that at best put you at a breakeven point. Competition on the discount end of the spectrum is very intense in Dubai. You may have to cannibalize on quality or push special offers to stay afloat. Price sensitive consumers may also not have any loyalty to your brand. And they continuously hop from brand to brand to get the best possible deal.

Special Regulatory Requirements for Spas

To start a spa business in Dubai, the government requires all spas to meet basic standards to ensure quality services for consumers. The following requirements need to be met to get clearance from Dubai municipality:

  • The location must be cleared as suitable for a spa.
  • Dressing chairs must meet the requirements specified by the municipality.
  • The minimum height between the ceiling and floor must meet municipality specifications.
  • Designated areas must exist for services such as pedicure, manicure, henna application, etc.
  • Proper sanitation protocols must exist.
  • Hot water and proper lighting must be available on site.
  • Register cosmetics and personal care products from the Product Safety Division of Dubai Municipality.
  • The Dubai Health Authority must approve the use of machines in the premise.
  • All staff are required to take a thorough medical and have all the required vaccinations.
  • An updated staff list and OHC inspection form must be available on site.

Spa Licensing

While you can start a business in a free zone jurisdiction such as Jumeirah Lakes Tower, Media City, or Internet City, most spas will opt to get a local license. Even you can opt for 100% ownership with a local license and appoint a Local Service Agent to take care of your formalities with the government. Since the license requires approval from a variety of agencies beyond the Dubai Department of Economic Development, you will need to allow for a period of 60 to 90 days to get your formal Spa license.

Consult the Experts to Start Your Spa Business

Just as you would not trust an inexperienced beautician to cater to your spa needs, neither should you leave the critical tasks of starting your spa business to those with no expertise with it. We can put you in touch with other spa owners who we have helped over the years to give you insight into what added value we can offer. A free friendly call with our consultants can provide you with great insight into what you need to do to make your dreams into reality.

Gilbert Sakr

Do you need help in business setup or looking to start a business in Dubai? Here you will find all the information and business ideas you need for starting your own company in Dubai.

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