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What to choose for life and business: Singapore or the UAE?

Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are two countries that offer attractive opportunities for relocation as well as for starting and operating an international business. Both countries have both similarities and significant differences, as well as advantages and disadvantages. We have been doing business in both of these countries for a long time and today we will tell you about Singapore and the UAE in terms of pros and cons for moving, starting a business, taxes, climate, culture and religion. If you're thinking about starting a business or moving to one of these countries, be sure to read our review!

Starting a Business

Let's start with starting a business. Deciding whether to open an international business in Singapore or the UAE depends on a number of factors such as your business activities, industry, markets you plan to work with, your budget, and business goals and priorities.

Both countries provide attractive business conditions such as low taxes, availability of financial services and infrastructure, favorable legal conditions, etc., but there are some differences that may influence your choice.

Geographic location

Let's talk about geographic location. Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia, while the UAE is located on the Persian Gulf coast in the Middle East.

Singapore is bordered by Malaysia to the north and Indonesia to the south. The UAE is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the west and Yemen to the south.

ne could say that Singapore is the ideal entry point to markets in Asia, Southeast Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand, while the UAE is at the crossroads of trade routes between Asia, Europe and Africa and is an ideal entry point to markets in the Middle East.

What type of business to choose

I am often asked which type of business is better to open in Singapore and which type in the UAE. It's quite a complicated question, but I'll try to answer it. Singapore is one of the biggest startup hubs in Asia and there are plenty of incubators, venture capital funds, and government funding that can help grow your business.

Singapore can be the right place to start an international business if your business is related to technology, finance, research and innovation. In addition, Singapore is one of the largest centers of international trade in the world. Singapore is at the crossroads of important international trade routes, making it an ideal place to process, store and distribute goods. Singapore is also close to China, Japan, South Korea, India and other countries, making it a convenient hub for trade relations with these regions. Singapore has developed infrastructure, highly skilled workers, a simple and transparent tax system, and a favorable business climate.

The UAE can be a suitable place to open an international business if your business is related to the oil and gas industry, construction, tourism and hotel business. The UAE has attractive investment opportunities, especially in free economic zones, as well as advanced infrastructure and low income taxes.

Business Registration

Company registration in Singapore and the UAE is a fairly simple and fast procedure for foreign investors.

However, there are certain differences in the requirements and procedures for company registration in each of these countries. For example, in Singapore, the business registration processes are relatively quick and simple. Singapore throughout all the years of existence of Doing business report, which compared all countries of the world on a variety of parameters including starting and doing business, infrastructure, access to finance, legal protection and other parameters took the first positions in it. A company can be registered within 20 minutes without personal presence, as well as its service.

The process of registering a business in the UAE is much more complicated. Taking into account that the UAE consists of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al Qaiwain and Ajman and each of them has different types of Mainland companies, there is a significant difference in requirements and procedures for registration of companies in different emirates, which can affect the time and cost of registration process.

In general, the company incorporation process in Singapore is simpler and faster than in the UAE and also offers more flexibility in the choice of company structure and the absence of restrictions on foreign investment, which makes this country very attractive to investors. At the same time, the UAE offers the possibility to register a company in free economic zones (FEZ), which provide additional tax benefits.
Legal System

Speaking of the legal system, it is worth noting that both countries have a fairly well-developed legal infrastructure, including legislation, judicial system, and oversight bodies. However, there are quite significant differences:

Singapore is a former British colony and its legal system is based on common law inherited from the British legal system.

UAE has a hybrid legal system where elements of Sharia law and common law are applied.

Both Singapore and the UAE have laws governing various areas of life such as real estate law, tax law, labor law and others.

However, it is worth noting that religious laws and regulations are more important in the UAE than in Singapore, especially in Shariah courts. Also, penalties for some crimes may be harsher in the UAE than in Singapore.

Tax System

Singapore and the UAE are two of the most attractive places to do business in the world, due to their low tax rate and business friendly environment.

In Singapore, the tax system is relatively simple and transparent. Singapore offers one of the lowest tax rates in the world. The tax on company profits is 17%. At the same time, in Singapore there are many tax benefits for companies under three years, as well as companies that invest in research and development and international expansion.

The UAE offers even lower tax rates for companies, the specific rates depending on the legal form, type of company (offshore, mainland or SEZ), the sphere of its activity. The standard corporate tax rate in the UAE is now 9%. At the same time there are a large number of tax exemptions. However, it should be taken into account that in the UAE there is a system of mandatory social contributions, which can be significant for companies.

Personal Tax

Singapore has a progressive personal taxation system from 0 to 24% (on income over $1 million per year).

The UAE does not levy personal income tax, which makes this country attractive to highly skilled professionals looking for work abroad.


Sigapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have significantly different climates Singapore has a tropical climate with lots of rain and high humidity, while the UAE has a desert climate with hot summers and very little rainfall.

Singapore is located on the equator, so its climate is tropical, with high humidity, lots of greenery, and an average annual temperature of 24-30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. There are frequent tropical downpours, especially during the rainy season, thanks to which the country is buried in greenery and flowers.

The UAE is located in a desert zone, so the climate of the UAE is a desert or semi-desert climate. Summers in the UAE are very hot, with temperatures that can exceed 45 degrees Celsius, while winters are milder, with temperatures around 20-25 degrees Celsius. It hardly rains in the UAE, and the rainfall is mostly in the winter season.

Culture and Religion

Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are two different countries with different religious and cultural backgrounds.

Singapore is a multicultural and multireligious nation. Singapore does not have an official religion, but Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are practiced by the population. Singapore is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. It officially recognizes religious freedom and respects the rights of all religious groups.

Islam is the official religion and the basis of life in the UAE. The majority of the UAE population practices Sunni Islam, but there is also a minority of Shiites and Christians. The UAE has strict laws regarding freedom of religion, and the state does not officially recognize any religion other than Islam.

In general, Singapore and the UAE have different religious traditions and approaches to religious freedom. Singapore is a more European and multi-religious country where freedom of religion is guaranteed, while the UAE is a country with a state religion and limited freedom of religion, which retains many traditions and customs associated with Islam.

Living conditions for expats

Singapore offers a high standard of living, good education and health care, and security. Singapore is also known for its cleanliness, safety and orderliness. However, it is important to keep in mind that Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world - most notably the cost of buying and renting homes and cars, which can be a problem for expats with limited budgets. From my Cost of Living in Singapore video, you can learn more about the cost of housing, food, schools, car buying, and other major expense items.

The UAE, on the other hand, offers more affordable housing costs and standard of living, but also has a high level of income and career opportunities. The UAE offers a rich culture and history as well as access to luxurious beaches and resorts. There are also no income taxes in the UAE, which may be attractive to some foreign nationals. However, the UAE is a conservative country and some laws and regulations may be stricter than in Singapore.

Obtaining Long-Term Visas

Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have their own characteristics and requirements for relocating foreigners.

Relocating to Singapore can be quite a complicated process, as the country has strict immigration policies and high requirements for long-term visa types. Generally, immigrant visas are granted only to highly skilled professionals in certain industries, such as technology, medicine and finance. In addition, Singapore provides opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs to invest in Singapore's economy.

Moving to the UAE can also be a complicated process. Visas are issued only if you have a job or business in the country, and even after obtaining a visa, registration with the local authorities is required. All other things being equal, it is harder to get long-term visas in Singapore than in the UAE, as it has a much more selective approach to foreigners. As for obtaining citizenship, it is a complicated process in both countries.

In general, Singapore and the UAE are two different countries, and the choice between them depends on individual preferences and needs. If high income, career opportunities, and security are important, Singapore may be a more attractive option. If affordability of housing costs and standard of living, as well as a desire to immerse yourself in a rich culture and history are more important, then the UAE may be a more suitable choice.

The choice between Singapore and the UAE as the best country to move to depends on the specific needs and preferences of each foreign national. Both countries offer a high standard of living, a favorable economic environment, and many career opportunities, but there are also differences between them.

If you need advice on choosing the right jurisdiction, or if you have questions on registering a legal entity, obtaining a long-term visa and relocating to Singapore or the UAE, our experts will be happy to help.

"RSBU Pte Ltd (RSBU) is a licensed corporate services provider that operates on the principle of one-stop support for your business.

We provide all types of services needed to incorporate and keep your company running, including corporate secretary services, nominee directors, registered addresses, assistance with opening personal and corporate bank accounts, accounting and tax services.

RSBS is also a licensed recruitment agency and provides comprehensive assistance with relocation and obtaining all types of work visas and work permits, long-term social visas, and permanent residency.

RSBS began operating in 2013 and over the years has helped thousands of companies with their business needs. RSBS is a one-stop shop for supporting your business in countries around the world!

Our countries:

Singapore, UAE, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam.

Why we are:
  • Russian speaking specialists;
  • On the market since 2013;
  • More than 25,000 clients* all over the world;
  • Proven local directors;
  • Bank accounts opening for companies and citizens of Russian Federation and CIS countries more than 90%;
  • Issuance of work and long-term visas for Russian and CIS citizens 100%**;
  • Full range of services for opening and supporting businesses in different countries of the world;

* - data for the group of companies

**- actual data as of March 1, 2022.