How to start an Airbnb business in Dubai

Airbnb has become a popular way for property owners to earn extra income by renting out their homes or rooms to travellers looking for accommodations. Dubai in particular has seen strong demand growth for Airbnb listings in recent years. 

The Airbnb business model is based on allowing hosts to list available accommodations on the Airbnb platform, which travelers can then book and pay for directly through the site. Airbnb takes a commission from each booking made. As a host, the benefits include earning supplemental income, meeting new people from around the world, and showcasing your city.

Dubai offers a prime opportunity to start an Airbnb business due to its booming tourism industry. Dubai welcomed over 16 million visitors in 2019, and hotel room supply has struggled to keep up with demand. This shortage of hotel rooms creates an opportunity for hosts to provide alternative accommodations. Dubai also has a significant expat population which leads to high residential turnover and availability of properties to potentially list on Airbnb.

Overall, the Airbnb model aligns well with Dubai’s tourism growth and demand for short-term rentals. By starting an Airbnb business, hosts can capitalize on this demand while offering travellers a unique accommodations experience.

Market Research 

Dubai has seen tremendous growth in tourism over the last decade. The city welcomed over 16 million visitors in 2019, up from 15 million in 2018. This growth is fuelled by several factors:

– Dubai’s investment in tourism infrastructure like airports, hotels, theme parks, and attractions. The city aims to continually add new and exciting experiences to keep attracting leisure tourists.

– Its geographical location provides easy access for travellers from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Dubai serves as a global hub connecting west and east. 

– Major events like World Expo 2020 brought international attention. While Expo has concluded, Dubai leveraged the event to cement its status as a must-visit destination.

– Increased focus on family-friendly tourism, appealing to a broad demographic. 

– Ongoing marketing campaigns promoting Dubai through tourism bodies like Visit Dubai.

The hotel industry has rapidly expanded to match rising tourism demand. Dubai now has over 140,000 hotel rooms across 725+ hotels, making it one of the most visited cities in the world. Occupancy rates reached 76% in 2019.

This continued growth in visitors and hotel capacity points to a strong opportunity for Airbnb hosts in Dubai. Short-term rentals can provide an alternative to hotels for leisure and business travelers seeking affordable, home-like accommodations.


The tourism industry in Dubai is regulated by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). There are specific regulations that apply when operating short term rentals in Dubai:

– All leased properties must be registered with DTCM and acquire a license to operate. This includes properties listed on platforms like Airbnb. 

– An activity permit from DTCM is required. This permit needs to be renewed annually.

– For apartments and hotels, the operator must get an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the building’s owner or management.

– There are different categories of licenses based on the type of accommodation. For example, a hotel apartment license is required for properties with hotel-style services.

– The operator must comply with DTCM rules. This includes standards for safety, hygiene, facilities, etc. Periodic inspections will be conducted. 

– Guest registration via an online DTCM portal is mandatory within 24 hours of arrival. 

– Accommodation must have sufficient liability insurance coverage.

– Advertisements and listings must contain valid license numbers.

– There are fines for non-compliance based on the severity of the violation.

By following the licensing procedures and regulations, short term rental operators can legally provide Airbnb accommodations in Dubai. Proper compliance is key.

Business Entity

When starting an Airbnb business in Dubai, you’ll need to choose a business structure. The two most common options for small business owners are LLC (Limited Liability Company) and sole proprietorship. Here are some key differences to consider:


– Separate legal entity from the owner. This protects your personal assets if your business is sued.

– More credibility with customers. An LLC sounds more official than a sole proprietorship.

– Tax benefits. LLCs can deduct many business expenses to reduce taxable income.

– More paperwork and startup costs. Forming an LLC requires articles of organization, an operating agreement, licenses, etc. Expect fees of AED 2,000-4,000.

– Ongoing compliance requirements. You must keep business and personal finances separate and file annual renewal paperwork.

Sole Proprietorship 

– No separate legal entity. You and the business are legally the same, so you’re personally liable for any debts or lawsuits.

– Easy startup. Almost no paperwork is required to form a sole proprietorship. Just start doing business.

– Fewer taxes and regulations. Less paperwork since no separate business entity.

– No credibility boost. Customers know this is a small, informal business.

– Your personal assets are at risk. If your business is sued, your house, car, and bank accounts could be seized.

– Limited lifespan. The business ends if you retire, die, or become disabled.

Overall, an LLC provides more protections and credibility at the cost of more paperwork and startup costs. It’s generally the better choice if you want to grow and formalize your Airbnb business. But a sole proprietorship can work well when just starting out informally.


To operate an Airbnb business in Dubai, you need to obtain the proper licenses from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). There are two main types of licenses required

Hotel Establishment License

This license is required for any property that offers paid lodging for tourists and visitors. The fee for the license depends on the classification of your property, such as hotel apartment, guest house, bed & breakfast, etc. The license must be renewed annually.  

Holiday Home License

If you plan to rent out villas or apartments on Airbnb, you need a holiday home license. This allows short-term rentals of up to 90 consecutive days. There is an initial application fee of AED 1,000 and an annual renewal fee of AED 1,000 per property. The property must meet DTCM requirements.

Make sure to allow 45-60 days processing time to obtain these licenses. You cannot legally operate an Airbnb property in Dubai without the proper licensing. Fines for non-compliance are steep. Consult the DTCM website for full requirements and application process.


Setting up an Airbnb business in Dubai comes with certain tax obligations you need to be aware of. Here’s an overview of the main taxes applicable to Airbnb hosts

Corporate Tax

If you set up your Airbnb business as a company in one of Dubai’s free zones, you may need to pay corporate tax. The exact rate depends on the free zone. For example, companies in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) need to pay 0% corporate tax on profits, while those in Dubai Silicon Oasis pay 5%.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

The UAE implemented a VAT system in 2018. This means Airbnb hosts must charge 5% VAT on their nightly rates and remit this to the government. As a host, you can deduct VAT paid on expenses related to your Airbnb against VAT collected from guests.

Tourism Tax

In addition to VAT, Dubai has a 7% tourism tax that applies to hotel rooms and holiday home rentals. As an Airbnb host, you’re responsible for collecting this tax from guests and paying it to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The tax is charged per room, per night.

Understanding the different taxes applicable to an Airbnb business is crucial. Failure to comply with tax obligations could lead to penalties. It’s advisable to consult with an accountant when setting up your Airbnb to ensure you meet all requirements. With good tax planning, you can minimize your liability and operate a profitable Airbnb business in Dubai.


Operating an Airbnb business in Dubai comes with certain risks that make insurance coverage essential. There are several types of insurance policies you should consider:

Liability insurance : This protects against property damage or injuries suffered by guests. It covers your legal liability in case guests sue you. Liability insurance is mandatory in Dubai for all landlords renting out property. Get a policy that covers at least AED 1 million.

Tenant occupancy insurance : This protects against loss of rental income if tenants cause damage or refuse to pay rent. It covers lost rent, legal fees, and damage repairs. Recommended if renting out an entire property. 

Homeowners insurance : If you own the property being rented out, your homeowners insurance may already provide some coverage. But it likely won’t cover commercial activities like short term rentals. Consider getting a rider policy tailored specifically for Airbnb hosting.

Business interruption insurance : Covers loss of rental income if you have to temporarily halt operations due to property damage from covered incidents like fire or flooding. Useful if Airbnb hosting is your main source of income.

Purchasing the right insurance coverage reduces the financial risks involved in short term rental hosting. Discuss options with licensed agents to find policies that properly protect your Airbnb business interests in Dubai.


When starting an Airbnb business in Dubai, one of the most important decisions is choosing the right properties to list. The location and type of property will determine your potential guest demographics, occupancy rates, and rental income. Some key factors to consider when selecting Airbnb properties in Dubai include:

Good Locations : For the highest occupancy and rental rates, look to list properties in popular tourist areas like Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, and Jumeirah Beach. Proximity to major attractions like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, and Kite Beach will appeal to visitors. Neighborhoods known for a vibrant food and nightlife scene, like Barsha Heights and City Walk, are also ideal. 

Outside of central Dubai, look at areas near the major highways like Sheikh Zayed Road and Emirates Road for easier access to the airport and key sites. Metro access can also be a draw for renters. 

Average Prices : Due to the luxury real estate market in Dubai, nightly rates for Airbnb rentals tend to be higher than in other cities globally. For a full apartment, average prices range from AED 300 per night for a basic studio up to AED 2,000+ for a premium high-rise apartment. Villas command even higher rates from AED 3,000-5,000 per night.

Pricing depends heavily on factors like location, size, amenities and furnishings. Newer high-end buildings and properties with pools, gyms, nice views and smart home features can charge a premium. As a general rule, aim to be competitive with comparable listings in your area.

Monitor market rates closely using Airbnb’s pricing tips, especially during peak seasons like winter holidays or major events when you can maximize rates.


Creating an attractive listing is crucial for getting bookings on Airbnb. Here are some tips:

Use high-quality photos : Have bright, well-lit photos showing each room and amenities. Avoid clutter and make sure it looks clean.

Write detailed descriptions : Mention all amenities like wifi, parking, kitchen appliances etc. Describe the neighborhood and distances to major attractions. 

Highlight special features : Play up any unique touches like art, décor, view from the balcony etc. This helps set you apart.

Be accurate : Provide the exact number of bedrooms, bathrooms, guests allowed. Mention any rules or restrictions. This manages expectations.

Add accessibility info : Note if it’s wheelchair friendly, has grab bars etc. People with disabilities rely on this.

Get certified : Superhost, Business Travel Ready etc signal you meet higher standards.

Respond to guests : Answer inquiries fast, even if declining a booking. This improves response rate. 

Update calendar : Sync your calendar to show real-time availability. Nothing is worse than a stale listing.

Refresh content : Add new photos and update descriptions periodically to keep attracting guests.

Monitor reviews : Read guest feedback to improve. Respond professionally to negative reviews.

Paying attention to these tips will make your Airbnb listing stand out, attract more bookings and delight your guests!


Setting the right price for your Airbnb listing is crucial to maximize your revenue. Here are some pricing tips and strategies to consider:

Dynamic Pricing

Use dynamic pricing software or Airbnb’s Smart Pricing tool to automatically adjust prices based on factors like demand, events, seasons, etc. This helps maximize occupancy and revenue. Prices can be higher on weekends, holidays, and during major events when demand is high.

Competitive Analysis  

Research prices for comparable listings in your area.Aim for the higher end if your property has superior amenities and location. Undercutting the competition too much leaves money on the table. 

High vs Low Seasons

Charge higher prices during peak seasons when demand is very high, such as major holidays and summertime. Have lower prices during slower seasons to attract bookings. Consider offering discounts or deals during low seasons.

Base vs Extra Guests

Have a base price for 2 guests, then charge extra per night for each additional guest above 2. This allows you to earn more revenue from larger groups.

Minimum Stays 

Require longer minimum stays during peak times to reduce turnover and earn more. Have shorter minimums during slower periods to attract bookings.

Weekday vs Weekend

Weekend prices can be 20-50% higher than weekday prices due to higher demand on weekends for leisure travel.

Cancellation Policy

A moderate cancellation policy attracts more bookings. A strict policy earns more revenue but deters some guests. Find the right balance.

By constantly optimizing your pricing strategy, you can maximize both occupancy and revenue for your Airbnb business.