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How to start a food truck in Dubai

Dec 19, 2021 | UAE Company Setup

In recent years, the food truck industry has become a bustling and diverse entrepreneurial dream. As a food truck owner, you’ve got the features and fun of running a restaurant, without the staffing needs.

What’s more, it opens you up to a new consumer base that makes the whole dining experience much more accessible. Whether it’s fine-dining food made easy, or classic street food fare, food trucks in Dubai are a worthwhile venture if food is your thing. 

Launching a food truck business is an attractive proposition for people looking to make big profits in Dubai. It’s a new and exciting aspect of the food industry with low barriers to entry, much like starting an online business or working in food and beverage. Find out more on how to start your business and get the engine started on your food truck in Dubai!

Here are four steps to creating a successful food truck business in Dubai:

1. Submit a compelling business plan to the DED

 The quicker you win DED approval, the quicker you can start your food truck in Dubai

Dubai has a burgeoning market for pop-up events, a fantastic climate, and world-renowned trade fairs. It’s little wonder, therefore, why Dubai is considered an ideal place to set up a food truck business.

However, before you dive in and buy a food truck and start preparing your menu, you need to have a strong business model and submit it in writing to the Dubai Economic Department (DED) and Dubai Municipality.

Your business outline must showcase your idea, your plan of action and financial outlays. It must convince government entities that your food truck concept can work.

Include details of how will you fund your startup, how you will manage it and your plans to scale up. Consider the regulatory and market risks and the variables which can adversely affect your business. Also, have a plan for reserve cash just in case you have any cash flow problems.

In the UAE, business plans must be comprehensively researched compared to foreign requirements. It’s wise to ensure your submission is thorough if you want to be set up for success. It’s essential to be as detailed and realistic as possible when providing financial data.

Paperwork for a food truck in Dubai

Top Tip: Check out the competition and note what makes the most popular food trucks a hit with customers. Consider what’s unique about your offering and what you can do to persuade people to part with their dirhams.

2. Get HACCP approval for your food truck in Dubai

Knowing how to get health and safety certification will save you time and money

To operate food trucks in Dubai, business owners must obtain two important health and safety certifications, which must be officially approved.

Firstly, you must obtain HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certification for the layout of your central kitchen. This is an important document food truck owners need if any cuisine food prep happens on site. Secondly, you need to get certification for the blueprint of the design and fit-out of your food truck.

HACCP certification provides assurance on the safety of the consumption of the product/s you intend to sell. It is based on the identification, control and elimination of the hazards and risk factors that adversely affect the products. Ultimately, the safety of customers is paramount when it comes to food standards and abiding by regulations within the food industry.

Once obtained, the HACCP certificates must be submitted to the government for approval. Only with these approvals in place can you start trading. It pays to get expert advice from leading consultants based in Dubai to make sure you follow the correct procedures.

3. Choose a great location for your Dubai food truck business

Higher footfall means more chance of higher profits.

Research related to food truck business

Do your research and plan diligently. Scout the city for possible locations and find out who owns the land. The very best locations go quickly when a new pop-up event, market or fair opens in Dubai so you need to be on the ball to profit from popular eating spots.

Locations can be limited and most are owned by private landlords. It’s wise to begin networking, develop contacts, meet landlords and keep up to date with urban renovations and developments. This helps in securing a great location with a competitive advantage.

Food trucks are popping up all over the city. Kite Beach is a popular spot and is well established as a foodie destination in Dubai. The award-winning Salt burger joint is located at Kite Beach. Palm Jumeirah is another booming food truck spot. In this region, around 30 food pop-ups are due to launch in the near future.

Hotspots for Food Trucks surrounding Dubai

Aside from Dubai, food trucks can be found in multiple locations in the surrounding region.

Situated on the outskirts of Dubai is a popular foodie spot, Last Exit. On the way to Abu Dhabi, Last Exit is a great location offering drive-through or dine-in eating options with incredible street food to boot. 

Last exit offers a mix of delicious international food, local dishes and American-style burgers for customers to enjoy. It’s done so well as a location, Last Exit now operates food truck parks at sites out of Al Qudra, Jebel Ali and Al Khawaneej.

Need some inspiration for your food truck business outside the city? Al Qudra is a food truck park within the Saih Al Salam Desert on Al Qudra Road. The Last Exit in Al Quadra is open almost all day, up until midnight offering a range of foods to suit anyone’s needs. 

Its unique attraction is that it has an equestrian theme throughout, with interesting food truck names such as the Saddle Cafe. These quirks are part of what makes food trucks fun and memorable for diners, no matter the location or cuisine available.

Other happening places for food trucks include TruckersDXB, which pops up around the city in winter, and Truckers Summer Warehouse.

When you spot a great site, act fast to secure it so you can gain a foothold in your chosen location before other food trucks move on to neighbouring locations.

4. Get your license, buy your food truck and start trading

Your food truck license is your passport to success

Location is everything but you also need the right approvals in place to turn your idea into a successful enterprise.

To obtain a food truck license, there are a few things to organise. You must have a compelling business plan, a compliant central kitchen for food prep and an approved blueprint of the fit-out. Be on top of the process and you can save time and start trading more quickly.

When you buy your truck, design it according to the fit-out approved by the authorities. The type of vehicle used for food trucks matters, so it pays to make the right decision. The vehicle should be supportive of your kitchen, capable of handling the heat and must have proper ventilation. Ideally, it should be a commercial truck.

Food trucks are really an advertisement on wheels. It will become a valuable marketing tool for your business in Dubai. How you paint and decorate the truck is entirely up to you. Make it bright and memorable, with colours and design that reflect the food and experience you want your diners to have.

Make the most of your street food truck. Food trucks can be lucrative business opportunities as they’re applicable in lots of markets and events. Music festivals, real estate open homes, concerts, sporting events, community events, and street fairs are all wonderful opportunities for your food truck business to thrive.

It’s also a great idea to utilise social media to help market your food truck business. Social media marketing is a brilliant way to spread awareness of your Dubai food truck, especially as you’re starting out. Keep your diners abreast of the menu, daily specials and any changes to the location of your truck.

Once you’ve obtained your food truck license, purchased a vehicle and secured a great location, all you need to do is start preparing and cooking your delicious food.

Don’t forget to get help if you need it

A passion for tasty food and outdoor eating, and a wealth of new pop-up sites have created a flourishing food truck scene both in Dubai and all over the UAE.

By entering the market now, you’re embarking on an exciting time in its growth. With a great concept and site, you have every chance of creating a thriving business with the possibility to expand on to other sites or other forms of catering.

However, getting a licence may be a daunting process, especially for newcomers. To minimise hassle, it’s worth considering working with a specialist, Arabic-speaking consultancy with local knowledge on how to obtain DED and HACCP approvals.

There is also help available to brand, design, fit out and operate your food truck. While this can be costly for startups, it may come in handy for first-time entrepreneurs and will give you more time to focus on your core business activities.

Setting up your own food truck business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in Dubai, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, or send an email to  info@vz.ae.

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