A growth in e-commerce businesses meant demand for Dubai's trader's licence increased in the first quarter of the year as consumer demand for online shopping surged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dubai's Department of Economic Development issued its "DED Trader" licence to 943 new businesses during the first three months of 2020, an increase of 179 per cent from the same period last year, it said on Saturday.
The licence allows "businesses to address challenges during the prevailing nationwide alert against Covid-19 with an easily accessible window regulated by Dubai Economy to set up and drive online enterprises", the department said.
"Additionally, it enables business continuity and sustainability during Covid-19."
The licence was first issued by the department's Business Registration and Licensing section in 2017, allowing business activities online and across social networking accounts.
Dubai's government had imposed a series of measures restricting movement in efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Some restrictions on movement and commercial activities have been eased as part of a gradual reopening of the economy.
For example, shopping malls are now open but operating at 30 per cent capacity and Dubai residents can move freely between 6am and 10pm for the first time in more than three weeks.
With online shopping "gaining fresh momentum" in the UAE, 102 DED Trader licences were issued in April, and the total number of DED Trader permits now stands at 5,353.
Businesses in information technology were among the top applicants for the DED Trader licence in the first three months of the year.
They were followed by fashion, personal and trading services, event organisation and food preparation businesses.
The DED Trader permits gained traction with female entrepreneurs, with about 60 per cent of the licences issued to women so far, the department said.
The e-commerce licence is issued electronically and has drawn increasing interest from companies since its launch as it improves the ease of doing business online.
There was a 276 per cent increase in licences issued in the last quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.
Opting for the DED Trader licence provides benefits including Dubai Chamber membership for the purposes of carrying out commercial activities, as well as bank facilities, temporary employment services, participation in exhibitions and conferences, access to training workshops and the provision of work space, the department said.
Online retailers are ramping up their product ranges to attract customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dubai has focused on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises during the crisis through a series of financial packages.