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How Much Does It Cost To Develop An App In Dubai?


So you have an epic app-based business idea, you have the rough monetization framework in mind and have plans for launching the app for specific devices. The next, smartest business move is to find out about the cost of app development and arrange financial resources. If you’re looking for the same, this post is for you as it covers: 

  • Estimates of mobile app development cost in Dubai
  • Factors that increase or decrease this app development cost 
  • Ways to reduce and optimize the app development budgets  

A Quick Rundown of App Development Costs in Dubai

As a ballpark figure, basic mobile apps with 2 to 4 features start from AED 8500 and could go up to AED 25,000 depending on the development time and effort required. The most popular examples of basic apps are calculators, note-taking apps and unit converters. 

Then there are multi-featured apps that cost between AED 26000 to AED 45,000 and have 7 solid features on average. These are moderately complex to develop and take an intermediate level of development effort and time. These apps include weather forecast and update apps, news apps, task management apps. 

Advanced apps with 8 to 15 features start from AED 46,000 and can go up to AED 73,000. These apps are large-scale commercial apps with the most engaging scope. They have features like multiple profile interfaces, in-app messaging and maps, online payment integration and offline mode. Some examples include on-demand delivery solutions, food delivery apps and endless running mobile games.  

Note: These are estimates for app outsourcing.

Want to know the exact cost of mobile app development in Dubai? 
CMOLDS can help! Validate your mobile app idea for FREE and get a custom cost breakdown for your mobile app.  

Factors that Affect the App Development Cost in Dubai

While we know the quick estimates for mobile app development cost, here are the top 8 factors that affect the cost of app development: 
  • Scope of app

The scope of app is exactly what the app aims to achieve for multiple stakeholders like founders, investors, users and developers. It talks about the depth of an app’s functionality and features, app’s vision and goals, its business model and its target audience. In simplest terms, the scope is the extent of an app’s capabilities and clearly outlines the tasks, services and problems the app will solve.

So when I talk about basic, intermediate and advanced apps, I am pointing at their scope, because ultimately it’s the scope that further translates into the design, development of features, testing, maintenance requirements, monetization and scaling. And that’s why it’s the most important factor that contributes to the overall cost of app development.

Apps with a basic scope are less complex to build and so are more economical to develop. The bigger the scope, more the complexity and higher the cost, period! 

Two main layers make up the cost in scope: design and features. 

  • Design 

There are two main areas of mobile app design:

User Interface Design and Brand assets

This is the first layer of mobile app design for businesses and includes visual elements that users interact with all the time. Designers create style guides and concepts based on the app development strategy and scope. After that, they:

  • Decide color scheme, color palette, typography, and iconography
  • Design logo, buttons and icons

User Experience

User Experience design focuses on the overall usability of the app. It starts with understanding the users’ behavior and preferences, pain points and requirements from the app. After visual elements and brand assets, designers create user journeys and personas to understand and outline the user experience design. This highlights the information flow, content layout, interactions and the overall engagement of the user.

Now there are two reasons why design complexity affects the cost of app development:

  • Sophisticated apps want platform-specific components and minimal designs – which means app developers have to deliver the same amount of information in a more intricate and appealing content layout. Similarly, apps with vast scopes typically cater to more devices and platforms – this could increase the platform-specific design requirements. This requires more effort and hence the higher cost.
  • Commercial-scale apps often cater to more than segments of users. User-centered design is their priority and so, they develop high-fidelity mockups before executing development. The testing, iteration and redesigning process also adds to the cost. 

High-quality, customized designs incur higher expenses compared to simple, standard designs and more skilled UI/UX designers functioning as creative teams in mobile app development companies in Dubai charge higher for their skillsets and KPIs. 

  • List of Features 

After design, features are an important part of the scope of work and product development strategy. Each feature requires a specific number of development hours. Now these features can be as simple as guest sign-ups and as complex as AI-powered personalized recommendations. 

And as design requirements of skills of designers impact the UI/UX and cost of mobile apps, so do the quantity and quality of features. 

Here is a set of must-have features for each tier of mobile app. 

Features in Basic Apps  Features in Intermediate Apps  Features in Advanced Apps 
Sign up, sign in and sign out

Basic dashboard and profile setup

In-app notifications

Basic search and categories 

All features of basic apps, plus: 

Multiple profile setup 

In-app purchases

Push notifications 

Online payment integration 

Social media integration 

In-app messaging 

Dark mode 


24*7 customer support 

GPS location 

All features of basic and intermediate apps, plus: 

2 Factor Authentication 

Push notifications 

Multiple online payment methods 

Offline mode

In-app voice calls

in-app video calls 

AI-based product recommendations

Image and voice recognition 


  • Platform and technology stack 

After the scope of the app and the associated design and feature sets, the platform you choose for app development also impacts the cost. As a quick rundown:

Native Android and native iOS app development require hefty development budgets because developers have to write separate code for these apps – and then create a unified user experience across both operating systems.

Native iOS development is more expensive than Android development because of the users’ focus on privacy and user experience standards and usability value. 

Android still has a 71% market share of smartphone users. That’s why most businesses if they have to choose, build for Android users before iOS. But premium app founders launch for iOS first because iOS users are more likely to spend on apps through premium subscriptions and in-app purchases. 

After native development, cross-platform development is also popular. That’s because developers use frameworks like Flutter and React Native to build near-native apps for Android and iOS devices from a singular codebase. They write once and deploy wherever they want with minimal to zero design adaptations. Logically, this is the most affordable option for early-stage startups. 

Based on the platform adoption, developers build a custom technology stack to code all the decided features. More complex applications with cloud integration, smart contracts, virtual reality integrations and machine learning algorithms require hefty budgets.  

Cost of an App

Team size

The hiring arrangement also impacts the overall cost of app development in Dubai. Take note that:

In-house app development recruitments are the most expensive because of the wages and benefits structure.

App development outsourcing means you can plan a budget between AED 25,000 to AED 65,000 for an app that has 10 features.  

IT staff augmentation requires app founders to pay monthly or quarterly subscriptions but then they have to manage the completion of KPIs because they are responsible for keeping track of development – unless you also hire a technical lead or a project manager – which also adds to the app development cost. 

Typically, a mid-level application needs a team based on:

  • Product development strategist for monetization framework and technical discovery 
  • Project manager for keeping the development KPIs on track 
  • UI/UX designer for mockups and prototype 
  • Senior frontend developer
  • Senior backend developer to code the client side, integrate APIs and set up a database 
  • Senior quality assurance analysts to test and improve the app’s technical performance and functionality

In case of full-cycle coverage, you don’t need an additional team member to prepare the app for deployment and publish it on stores – your app development team can typically handle that and would charge you for the developer account. 

  • Location of the app development agency

The hourly rates of development in the USA and UK are higher than in the Middle East and South Asia. This means that while a mobile app development company in UAE will develop your app for AED 25,000, one based in the USA will develop the same app for at least $20,000 – for several reasons like tax coverage and low talent competition.  

In addition to the competition, the UAE government has started an initiative called ‘Create Apps In Dubai’ and it aims to promote app development systems in the region. That’s why, Dubai has seen and will continue to see growth in the number of app developers. 

  • Maintenance

App maintenance accounts for 22% of the overall app development costs. And while post-launch maintenance is typically free in most contracts, after deployment and launching, all apps need regular maintenance. This maintenance procedure includes the identification of bugs and reporting potential threats, 24*7 technical support to end users, app monitoring and analytics and security fixes. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the user base, the higher its maintenance costs. 

  • Stages of development 

Full-cycle app development which covers discovery, design, backend and frontend development, API integration and testing, deployment and launch is more economical as compared to separate stages of development.  

As an app founder, you can divide your entire app development venture into stages, and then plan to proceed with each stage step by step after completing the previous one successfully. 

Most app startups do this because they want to use their MVPs or prototypes to acquire external funding. And other times, when the app startups are bootstrapping, they often wait to pool in funds and then build their apps step by step. 

While this seems decent if you have budget considerations, this is not recommended as it can stretch your app development cost in Dubai.

Read more about building a mobile app in Dubai.

How to Reduce App Development Costs in Dubai 

If you are already sold on a specific app development idea but the total app development costs are holding you back, here are 

  • Optimize costs by considering smart hiring arrangements.  

Because in-house app development teams are more expensive in terms of recruitment and managerial costs, I recommend app founders to reconsider their hiring arrangements and choose between app outsourcing and IT staff augmentation. 

In-app outsourcing, while you can choose onshore, nearshore and offshore outsourcing, we recommend hiring from UAE, and more specifically from Dubai because of high competition, low rates, same time zone and physical meeting options. 

You can even choose to augment IT staff – and while it may cost the SAME as outsourcing in terms of finances, the subscription breakdown will allow you to manage cashflows as per your convenience. 

Secondly, hire design, development and maintenance services from the same website development agency in dubai – even when you are building in phases and each step is months apart from the next one. This will decrease your management overheads, and reduce development hours that you’ll otherwise spend in the rediscovery and product roadmapping.  

  • Start with building a cross-platform app  

As mentioned above, cross-platform apps are more economical and affordable for app founders. That’s because, unlike native development, cross-platform apps utilize one code for different devices. Businesses can leverage this quality and build two apps – or say, apps for two devices for the price of one. 

With time, you can choose to launch native apps for Android and iOS, or simply scale the features and architecture in your React Native or Flutter app – whichever framework you choose for primary development. 

  • Build an MVP and use monetization money to scale your app. 

MVPs are Minimum Viable Products, and in the context of mobile development, MVPs are applications that only have essential features to support the basic app vision and goals. For example, you can build a ride-sharing app with in-app messaging. But to optimize costs in the beginning, your MVP may not have in-app messaging but a different communication method that connects the driver to the client through the smartphone’s built-in messenger. 

Since MVPs have complete yet limited features, these are more economical to build in the beginning. You can use this MVP to test the market, understand the user behavior, analyze what they need in the app, then either apply for external funding to increase features or use monetization money to scale the architecture.


So this guide on app development costs in Dubai concludes here – but your key business step begins here. If you’re still estimating the cost, have questions about funding your app development idea or want to meet a network of developers to proceed with your idea, CMOLDS has got you covered. 

Book a call with Hady Shaikh for a FREE, no obligation, 1:1 mobile app idea validation session and talk about how you can take the next step in your app business, how you can fund the process, and when you can augment IT staff.


About Saba Sohail

Saba Sohail is a content marketer with strong interests in mobile app development, tech-led business growth, AI-based business process automation and business-side technologies.

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