Associations that are interested in expanding globally, reaching into the Middle East, Africa, and India markets, can now take advantage of the new Dubai Association Centre, an entity set up by the Dubai government. It is designed to make it easy for international and regional associations to set up chapters or offices in the Middle East.

As the official licensing authority for nonprofit, apolitical, and nonreligious professional associations and trade bodies in Dubai, the DAC has been established by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Dubai Convention & Events Bureau, and the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“We wanted to provide a one-stop shop for international or regional associations to incorporate within Dubai,” said Steen Jakobsen, director, Dubai Events & Convention Bureau, at the recent American Society of Association Executives annual meeting in Nashville. The DAC has formed a partnership with ASAE.

Up until legislation was passed last year, it was not possible for international or regional associations to incorporate in Dubai,” said Jakobsen. “We aspire to be an association hub just like the ones we see in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. We hope to establish Dubai and the U.A.E. as a business hub, a knowledge hub, and as a meetings and conference hub.” In fact, DAC has used Singapore, which established a similar framework for associations, as a model.

Not only does the DAC make it easy for associations to apply for incorporation, it provides many other benefits, including the offer of renting office space in the Dubai World Trade Centre, the Emirate’s main convention center. It also helps associations obtain visas for employees and offers human resources, accounting, and other operational support.


Why Dubai Attracts Business

Jakobsen pointed to the success Dubai has had in attracting companies—multinational organizations—to set up regional headquarters there. “Consequently a growing number of international associations have come together in the Emirate to meet, exchange knowledge, and network.”

One-third of the world’s population is within four hours flying-time and two-thirds are within eight hours, he added. “And 80 percent of our population are ex-pats.”

Jakobsen said that corporations have discovered the Emirate because of its business-friendly policies, which include free-trade zones, zero income tax and VAT, and a favorable corporate taxation policy.


Early Successes

“We’ve had quite a good success rate already. The DAC has been very well received in the association community,” said Jakobsen. “At the moment, we are in dialogue with about 30 international associations, and approximately 10 have submitted applications to incorporate. The first has come through: The Dubai Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. It’s an association with more than 200,000 members, said Jakobsen.

For more information about the Dubai Association Centre, visit