Business SetupDubai, UAE

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New business setup in Dubai

Learn about company setup in Dubai, UAE

If you are looking for a truly dynamic business hub to set up your new company, Dubai is the right place for you – and for many reasons.

Dubai caters to entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses, and giant multinational corporations with the same levels of ease, efficiency, speed, and service. Furthermore, multiple choices are available for every aspect of setting up business in Dubai: budget, licence, location, and premises.

Company Setup in Dubai spells out several big benefits that include tax savings, good governance, superior infrastructure, premium lifestyle, and constantly developing opportunities. Another unique offering is the easy access to more than 2 billion consumers in multiple markets, all located within a 4-hour flight. Dubai’s enviable location also results in an international and vastly multicultural workforce.

Free zone v/s Mainland

When considering a new business setup services in Dubai, location is a key decision. Low Cost Business Setup is possible at one of Dubai’s many specialised free zones, or on the mainland (sometimes referred to as onshore).

In 1985, Dubai launched Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) as the first free zone in the UAE and the Middle East. The small operation opened with only 19 companies, but within a decade became the first free zone in the world to be awarded ISO certification. The JAFZA success story became the blueprint for several free zones, each offering strategic benefits and advantages. These free zones house thousands of foreign individual and institutions who have successfully set up Branch or 100% owned company in Dubai.  

In 2021, changes were made to the UAE Commercial Companies Law, allowing a foreigner, group of foreigners, or a foreign company to have 100% fully owned businesses in the UAE, subject to certain rules. The Dubai Government quickly announced 100% foreign ownership status for more than 1,000 commercial and industrial activities in the emirate.

As a result of these changes, some long-established businesses on the mainland are amending their ownership pattern while numerous others are pursuing new business formation in Dubai.

Business Setup Consultants in Dubai

Talk to our consultants about your requirements and aspirations, and we will help you decide if and why your new company set up in Dubai should be located on the mainland, or at a specialised free zone.

mainland dubai company formation

Proprietorship v/s Partnership

The legal entity of your business set up in Dubai is another important decision, and this will depend on the number of shareholders, and whether these shareholder/s are considered natural persons or legal persons in the UAE.

In broad terms, if you are an entrepreneur based in the UAE or a business owner from another part of the world with plans for providing service-related activities in the UAE market, you can set up a new company in Dubai, with a sole proprietor mainland licence. You can also register your new business in Dubai as a freelancer, free zone limited liability company (FZ LLC), free zone entity (FZE) or free zone company (FZ CO) at one of Dubai’s 30 plus free zones. 

If your new business in Dubai is commercial in nature such as trading or contracting, , the ideal option on the mainland is a limited liability company (LLC), with a minimum of one and a maximum of 50 shareholders.

Companies with more than 50 shareholders are typically registered in Dubai as a private limited company (PLC). The public joint stock company (PJSC) is a more complex structure with  management by a collegial body of directors acting as trustees for shareholders.

Dubai also licences branches, regional headquarters and representative offices of foreign companies, and ‘single family offices’ where all shareholders are from the same family.

Our in-house lawyers, chartered accountants, and financial consultants will help you with feasibility studies, due diligence, corporate structuring and restructuring towards successful company formation in Dubai.

Specialty v/s Activities

As an integral part of setting up new business in Dubai, you must choose an activity or multiple activities to apply for a licence. Very few business activities have restrictions, and a handful are prohibited.

If you are already specialised in a certain field, choosing a business activity will pose no problem. However, for broader business categories like ‘retail’ or ‘trade’ there are multiple options, distinct sectors, and several specialised activities.

Since free zones are broadly classified by industry, it is easy to find the right fit at well-established hubs like Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC), Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Internet City (DIC), Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA), and several others. Some of the newer free zones offer greater flexibility such as professional, commercial and industrial activities combined into a single business license.

For a mainland business licence in Dubai, it is important to identify the exact nature of your proposed business, and activities thereof. Dubai offers more than 1,000 business activities for 100% owned business, including but not limited to contracting and construction, gold and jewellery, cargo and shipping, food and water, education and hospitality.

offshore company setup locations

We are experts at company setup in Dubai, and you can rely on us to match your current needs and future plans to the right jurisdiction and rightful business activities.

offshore company setup locations

Budget v/s Value

The costs associated with new business setup in Dubai is based on variables such as the type of company to be incorporated, the type of license applied for, and the number of work visas required. For example, if your business has four partners and you plan to hire eight employees, visa application fees have to be paid separately for each individual.

Company setup in Dubai does not always require a minimum share capital, and is based on the size and structure of the organisation. Office rental charges too vary greatly, with choices ranging from virtual spaces and hot desks on 1-year contracts, to workshops, warehouses and large offices on long-term leases of up to 25 years.        

The total cost of business set up in Dubai can be broadly divided into four components: documentation and attestations, licensing and share capital requirements, visa processing, and workspace.

Many options are extremely affordable. For solo entrepreneurs and start-ups, Dubai Economy’s Instant Licence starts at approximately AED 9,000 (US$ 2,450) and is typically issued on the same day. Likewise, some of Dubai’s free zones offer extremely affordable business set up packages. For instance, International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) in Dubai offers the  IFZA Dubai Trading Licence which starts at AED 12,500 (US$ 3,400) and is issued within 5 working days.

As veteran consultants, we assist with planning, itemising and budgeting the total cost of your business set up in Dubai. Everything is presented upfront, and there are no hidden costs.

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