Hatem Elsafty – The Force Behind Business Link

While there are plenty of business consultancies that exist within the region, only a few gains the recognition and success they deserve. Business Link, a business setup consultancy firm based in Dubai UAE, has made a name for itself while being in a pool full of competitors. Needless to say, Mr. Hatem Elsafty has put in much effort over the years that have brought in fruitful results.

UAE Times once again had the opportunity to be in conversation with Business Link’s CEO, Mr. Hatem Elsafty. In this session, we discussed everything to do with business in UAE and Saudi Arabia!

What is the major difference between business setup in UAE vs Saudi Arabia?

“Well, while there are significant similarities, there are quite a few differences as well. Saudi Arabia is not home to any sort of jurisdictions from wherein businesses need to be carried out however, in UAE these are the norm. UAE has three different jurisdictions, Mainland setup, Free Zone setup and Offshore setup. The first two exist within each Emirate and all of these are governed by their own regulations and authorities. “

Another difference is that in UAE, foreign investors are permitted to establish new businesses however, such is not the case in Saudi Arabia. Saudi locals and nationals of other GCC countries are solely permitted to set up new businesses, the rest may opt for a branch or subsidiary.

The third major difference is the cost of setting up and/or expanding your business. While you certainly need a significant amount of money to establish a brand in both countries, the cost is much higher in Saudi Arabia as compared to UAE.

Last but not the least, in UAE, foreign investors can own their business 100% regardless of what the activity is. In Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, companies that are involved in consultancy activities, engineering, finance and accounts, among others, are not allowed to own their business entirely.

Is there a condition to meet if one wants to establish a branch office in Saudi Arabia?

Yes, there are some conditions to meet if you would like to set up a branch office in Saudi Arabia. You must have a parent company that is based outside of the country. It’s important for your parent company (LLC) to be operational for over one year and along with this must have one or more than one shareholder. Lastly, an audit report that proves your company is in a good position financially is also crucial.

What are some business activities that are known to do incredibly well in Saudi Arabia?

There are plenty! Saudi Arabia is a wealthy company and has been extremely beneficial even to those who have invested within. There are companies that have been increasingly flourishing and are open to being taken up by foreign investors. These are:

  • Information technology
  • Computer designing and programming
  • Entertainment events and organization
  • Travel and tourism
  • Industrial investment license
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing services
  • Transport and logistics
  • Energy
Could you tell us more about what Saudization is?

So Saudization isn’t exactly a new regulation brought in by the government, it’s been a campaign that’s existed as long as 1985. In the last few years, however, the government of Saudi Arabia has cracked down rather heavily to ensure it’s implemented. Much like Emiratization that exists in the UAE, Saudization is a scheme introduced that calls for the hiring of Saudi nationals on a quota basis.

Though there are some companies exempt from this ruling, due to their team strength. For companies that have over 9 employees, by law, they must hire a certain number of Saudi nationals.

Saudization came about as a means of reducing the number of unemployed Saudi nationals. It’s also a crucial project of Vision 2030.

What are your thoughts about Vision 2030?

I only have good things to say about Vision 2030! I believe it’s a step in the right direction that will surely benefit the country and many who invest. Nothing of the sort has happened anywhere in the world and if nothing else, this will put Saudi Arabia on the map!

Vision 2030 is built with ambitious dreams that the country is working toward in full swing.

How do you think Vision 2030 will benefit the country?

So, one of the key ideas behind Vision 2030 is to diversify the economy. As we know, Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent upon oil as its main source of revenue. With the aim to diversify sources of income, the country is heavily investing in other industries that have much potential to their name. By keeping a close eye on the sectors that will prosper and grow, the government hopes to move away from oil dependency by allowing for more streams of income.

With all that they’re introducing, the country will see a spike in foreign investment as such opportunities are ones that are immensely sought after by foreigners. Not only will it strengthen the economy by welcoming foreign investment and opening up to newer sectors, but it will also create more jobs for Saudi nationals – all in all, will massively benefit the economy.

The strategic location of Saudi Arabia, which places it not far from the wealthiest nations globally, along with its strong influence is reasoning enough for those interested to add to what the country already has!

I personally believe it’s going to be an interesting phase for Saudi Arabia where we get to see the nation reach greater heights.

Where do you think the business market is headed to in UAE?

It is safe to say there has been a shift in the way business is done, especially after COVID-19. Business is moving to the digital space, and we can be sure to see many businesses leave the traditional working model behind and adapt to newer, more tech-savvy ways of conducting operations.

I believe in the coming years, we will surely be seeing the digital world take over, as it is doing so slowly already. Dubai has been ranked as the quickest growing e-commerce market in the Middle East and Africa region – so it’s clear that it is only upward from here on.

Could you tell us what business activities are doing increasingly well in UAE at the moment?

I’m pleased to say that most businesses that are set up here tend to do very well! Some that we help with are:

  • General trading
  • E-commerce
  • Handyman services
  • Contracting services
  • Information Technology
  • Health sector

If you’re interested in seeking the assistance of Business Link to establish your company in UAE or Saudi Arabia, Business Link can definitely be your #LinkToSucess.

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