Sales Representative in the U.A.E.

Overview by

Commercial Intermediaries

Trading Companies
  • Type of Organization
This solution is more widespread than direct selling. There is no distinction legally between a commercial agent and a distributor over there. It is important to have a local intermediary because in Emirates culture trade is also an activity in there should be a face to face contact. They do not consider distant trade relations.
  • Main Actors
Al Anhar, Al Ghurair retail, Al Jaber international, Al Khaja group, Al Tayer group, etc.
  • Type of Organization
This type of company is increasingly important specially in Dubai. In the past bulk trade was reserved in the agrofoods field. Today, it has developed even in the new technologies sector( mobile telephones, computers...). There is a confusion between the functions of these types of players, i.e., that often a wholesalser is also an importer and a distributor.
  • Main Actors
The Lifco, Emke groups dominate the sector for distribution of offd products. Al Futtaim electronics sanyo  dominate the sale of electronic equipment. Aptec online , Axiom telecom which is part of the Bannai group and Emirates Computer dominate the bulk sale of computers and portable phones.
Useful Resources
Directory of UAE companies
On-line economic and commercial newspaper centered on the Middle-East countries.

Using a Commercial Agent

The Advantages
The recourse to a commercial agent associated with a representative office, branch or an establishment is the ideal way to complete its installation.
Where to Be Vigilant
It is difficult to terminate a commercial contract. In effect, generally it is impossible commit the termination of a commercial contract unilaterally and even if the contract has a duration determined once this has been registered with the Ministry of Economy and Plannig.
Elements of Motivation
The prospect of an attractive percentage on the transactions motivated the commercial agents.
The Average Amount of Commission
There is a law for commission on all the transactions executed in the country. It signifies that remunerations will also be collected on businesses in which it has not played any role. Some companies like Gulf commercial agency are known in this field but most of the market is shared between small structures.
Breach of Contract
The Commercial agents are legally independent traders. They can from that point of view delegate a part or all of their activities to a sub-agent. One must be consequently very vigilant while drawing up a contract to avoid being represented by someone who has not been chosen. Two pieces of advice are evident. On one hand, introduce a sufficiently long probation period before signing the commercial contract with the agent. On the other hand, take assistance of a locally known advocate in preparation of the contract. The contract should be registered by the agent with the ministry of Economy and Planning to avoid distribution of the company's products by another agent without its agreement.
Finding a Commercial Agent
Ministry of Economy and Planning, commercial agents registered
Find Sales and Distribution Service Providers in the United Arab Emirates on

Setting Up a Commercial Unit

The Advantages
The creation of a commercial unit in the country is attractive as it enables to be directly in contact with the consumer and assess his tastes the best. This enables to be closer to the market and to be able to adapt his products suitably.
Where to Be Vigilant
The fees for establishment and working are very high.
Different Possible Forms of Settlement
  • A Representative Office
The representative office serves as a link betweeen the foreign company and its local partners. It also facilitates the promotion of the company's products and services . It is not authorised to receive receipts and carry out commercial activities. This is a clerical organisation. The creation of a representative office necessitates nomination of a Emirates service agent (called sponsor in the past). This can be remunerated in two ways. He can receive a percentage on the amount of sales turnover generated in the country by the representative office. He can also receive a fixed sum which is at an average between 25,000 and 150,000 Emirates dirhams. This solution is the best because the service agent has no commercial activity and it is consequently dangerous to link his remuneration with this. From 2005, foreign companies should furnish a bank guarantee of 50,000 dirhams to obtain the facility of a licence for office or its renewal.
  • A Branch Office
The creation of a branch also needs a local service agent. The service agents have the pratice to be registered as commercial agent. One must be vigilant on this point and specify in the contract binding the service agent to the company that he is not designated as commercial agent of the company. Some sectors are excluded from this type of establishment. These are banking activitites, insurance, commercial agencies, passenger road transport. The creation of a branch also requires the arrangement of a bank guarantee of 50,000 Emirates dirhams.
  • A Company
The establishment of a subsidiary requires partnership with Emirates nationals (individual persons or corporates) who will necessarily have majority stake in capital (at least 51% of the shares of the created company). Utmost attention must be given to the judicial organisations which attempt to by-pass this obligation as they are invalidated automatically by the courts of local justice.


Evolution of the Sector
Franchising is booming in the UAE in a variety of sectors (fast-food restaurants, clothing, hotels, beauty products, photography, toys, etc). These type of legal instrument is easy to handle. It is sufficient that the franchisee is a national or a company whose capital is 100% Emirates. The contract can be subject to the Federal law on commercial agents, which is an additional protection for the franchisee. It is also possible to enter into a joint venture with the franchisee to make all or part of their activities in common. This type of agreement does not require a licence and it is very common in the construction sector.
Some Big Franchises
Pizza Hut, pizzeria
H & M, clothing
Starbucks, coffee
Zara, clothing

Finding Assistance

Export Trading Companies
Altaf and Khammas Group, specialised in re-export of fresh products in the Middle East.
Al Nabeel trading co.
Al blossom trading est
Mash group, companies specialised in import and export of chemical products.
Directory of arab companies
Find more on about Selling to the United Arab Emirates.

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