Learn more about setting up a business in Dubai, UAE
If you are looking for a truly dynamic business center to set up a new company, Dubai is the place for you for many reasons.
Dubai offers the same convenience, efficiency, speed, and service to entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses, and large multinationals. Moreover, there are multiple options for all aspects of setting up a business in the UAE: budget, licensee, location, and premises.
Business Setup Services In Dubai brings with it many important advantages, including tax savings, good governance, excellent infrastructure, a world-class lifestyle, and growth opportunities. Another unique offering is easy to access to over 2 billion consumers in many markets within a 4-hour flight radius. Dubai’s enviable location has also provided an international and highly multicultural workforce.
Continental Free Zone
To register a business in Dubai, you must decide whether to locate your business on the mainland or in a free zone. Location is an important decision when considering services for setting up a new business in Dubai. It is possible to set up a low-cost UAE company in one of Dubai’s many free zones or onshore (sometimes called onshore).
The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) was established in Dubai in 1985 and was the first free zone in the UAE and the Middle East. This small operation opened with only 19 companies, but within ten years it became the first free zone in the world to receive ISO certification. JAFZA’s success story has become a model for several free zones, each with strategic strengths and advantages. These free zones have hosted thousands of foreign individuals and institutions that have successfully established branches or wholly-owned companies in Dubai.
In 2021, the UAE’s Companies Law was amended to allow a foreigner, a group of foreigners or a foreign company to have a wholly-owned company in the UAE, subject to certain rules. The Dubai government promptly announced that more than 1,000 commercial and industrial activities in the emirate will be 100% foreign-owned.
As a result of these changes, some long-established mainland companies are changing their ownership structures, while many others are trying to set up new operations in Dubai.
Consultancy for start-ups in Dubai
Discuss your requirements and ambitions with our consultants and we can help you decide whether your new venture in Dubai should be located on the mainland or in a specific free zone, and why.
Establishing an onshore company in Dubai
Ownership and partnership
Another important decision is the legal form of your Dubai company, which will depend on the number of partners and whether they are considered natural persons or legal entities in the UAE.
Simply put, if you are an entrepreneur in the UAE or a business owner from elsewhere in the world who plans to offer service activities in the UAE market, you can set up a new sole proprietorship in Dubai. You can also register your new business in Dubai as a sole trader, limited liability company (FZ LLC), free zone entity (FZE) or free zone company (FZ CO) in one of the more than 30 free zones in Dubai.
If your new business in Dubai is of a commercial nature, such as trading or contracting, the ideal onshore option is a limited liability company (LLC) with a minimum of one and a maximum of 50 shareholders.
In Dubai, companies with more than 50 shareholders are usually registered as limited liability companies (PLC). A PLC is a more complex structure governed by a collective of directors who act as trustees for the shareholders.
Dubai also allows branches, regional offices, and representative offices of foreign companies, as well as “single-family offices”, where all shareholders belong to the same family.
Our corporate lawyers, chartered accountants, and financial advisors help you with feasibility studies, due diligence, structuring, and corporate restructuring to successfully set up a company in Dubai.
Specialty v/s Operations
When setting up a new company in Dubai, you need to choose the type or types of activities for which you wish to apply for a license. Very few business activities are restricted and some are prohibited.
If you are already specialized in a particular field, choosing the type of business will not be a problem. However, for broader categories of business, such as “retail” or “trade”, there are more options, different sectors, and different specialized activities.
As free zones are classified by sector, it is easy to make the right choice in established centers such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Multi Commodity Centre (DMCC), Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Internet City (DIC), Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA) and many others. Some of the newer free zones offer more flexibility, such as the possibility to combine professional, commercial, and industrial activities in a single business licensee.
To obtain a business licensee in Dubai, it is important to identify precisely the nature of the proposed business and its activities. Dubai offers more than 1,000 types of business that can be 100% owned, including but not limited to contracting and construction, gold and jewelry, freight and shipping, food and water, education, and hospitality.
Location of offshore companies
We are experts at finding companies in Dubai and you can rely on us to match your current needs and future plans with the right jurisdiction and business area.
Offshore company locations
Budget versus value
The cost of setting up a new UAE company in Dubai depends on variables such as the type of company to be established, the type of licensee required, and the number of work visas required. For example, if your company has four partners and you intend to employ eight staff, you will need to pay the visa application fee for each person separately.
Setting up a company in Dubai does not always require a minimum share capital, but this depends on the size and structure of the organization. Office rents also vary widely, from virtual offices and work offices with one-year leases to workshops, warehouses, and large offices with long-term leases of up to 25 years.
The total cost of setting up a business in Dubai can be divided into four parts: documentation and certifications, permits and capital requirements, visa processing, and workspace.
Many opportunities are very affordable. For sole traders and start-ups, an immediate business permit in Dubai costs around AED 9 000 (USD 2 450) and is usually issued the same day. Very affordable accommodation packages are also available in some of Dubai’s free zones. For example, the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) in Dubai offers the IFZA Dubai Trade Licence, which costs AED 12 500 (USD 3 400) and is issued within 5 working days.