On the heels of the Abraham Accord, as Israeli individuals and institutions weigh options for business setups in Dubai or the UAE, one thing firmly tilts the balance in their favour – free zones.
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a long history of establishing free zones to attract foreign investment and local business. In 1985, when Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) opened as the first free zone in the country – and the wider region – it was a small operation catering to only 19 companies. A decade later, the drive towards excellence saw it becoming the first free zone to be awarded ISO certification.
The JAFZA success story became a blueprint for the launch of several free zones across the country, each offering strategic benefits and business advantages. Collectively, they are home to many thousands of individuals and institutions who have successfully set up business in the UAE.
Today, the UAE has close to 50 free zones and many cater to specialized sectors including but not limited to: trade, industry, energy and renewable energy, exports and re-exports, media and media communications, metals and commodities, finance, healthcare, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The newest UAE free zones are Sharjah Media City (SHAMS) and IFZA Dubai.
Company registration in Dubai or anywhere in the UAE is easier, simpler, and faster at a free zone, than outside one. These designated economic zones also enable 100% foreign ownership of companies, making them the go-to licensing option for Israeli investors.
Incorporating the principles and best practices of free trade, UAE free zones help stimulate trade and investment, and facilitate the transfer of skills, knowledge and technology. The astounding number of international firms located at these free zones bear testament to this ongoing success story.
A singularly unique offering is the easy access to more than 2 billion consumers in multiple markets located within a 4 hour flight.Those who are interested in setting up business in Dubai or anywhere in the UAE stand to benefit in many other ways by being based at a free zone – anywhere in the country.
For instance, when Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF) saw that the prospect of lengthy, bureaucratic procedures was daunting to potential investors, the authorities launched a 24-hour licensing service which enables new entrants to set up a business in the UAE almost instantly. Also a Sharjah free zone, the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) offers huge industrial and commercial plots running into several thousand square feet, and infrastructure specifically designed to facilitate import and re-export.
In the capital, Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, recently announced a new UAE business set-up package to support entrepreneurs, costing an extremely affordable USD 2,500 (ILS 8,400).
Dubai’s free zones, the largest number in the country, includes some outstanding performers. A sterling example is the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which was established in 2004 and is now seen as one of the world’s leading financial centres. Earlier this year, DIFC was ranked 12 th in the world by the Global Financial Centres Index, ahead of Frankfurt, Zurich, Chicago and Luxembourg.
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The fundamental premise of a free zone is that it makes it much easier for businesses to conduct business. Incorporating a company in the UAE or getting a new business license can sound like a long and complicated process, but it is simply not. Most processes are simplified, and everything is designed to attract international investors, and help them build up their business.
The wide and varied choice of UAE free zones offer 100% foreign ownership, with no requirements of local sponsors or service agents. Business owners can also enjoy 100% repatriation of revenues and profits, and 100% transfer of funds.
More importantly, there is a time-bound waiver of all corporate taxes as well as import and export taxes, and an exemption from all personal taxes.
Many of the larger UAE free zones have their own laws and courts based on both English and common law, sitting alongside the country’s ‘onshore’ environment which has also modernized in recent years.For Israeli firms with an interest in setting up business in Dubai or other emirates in the UAE (either a small office or full-scale operations), a free zone is the surest route to success.
New company formation in the UAE is easier, simpler, and faster at a free zone, than outside one. Documentation is more simplified, and recruitment and workforce processes are faster and cheaper than onshore options. Most free zone authorities also extend support for ancillary services such as legal, medical, labour, and immigration processes.
Options in space, style, tenure, and budget are almost unlimited – from individual freelance permits to international branch office licenses, and from shared desk space on a 1-year contract to industrial warehouse leasing for up to 25 years.
And finally, with many years of experience and many dozen contented clients on our roster, our teams continue to offer personalized and professional service to international investors who are interested in incorporating a new company in the UAE. As a national business set-up consultancy based in Dubai, we work closely with UAE free zones located across the country.
Be it identifying the right specialty or location, creating compelling value propositions, processing paperwork, complying with regulations, and even fulfilling unusual requests related to UAE company formation, we are happy to serve – and deliver high satisfaction.