Business Setup Dubai

Company formation in Dubai / United Arab Emirates

The UAE has a very robust and stable banking system, consisting of local and international banks. Most banks have state of the art internet banking services, enabling clients to access their account and perform transactions regardless of where they are.

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Establishing a Business in Dubai

Dubai stands out as an exceptional destination for establishing your new business, offering a vibrant and dynamic environment tailored to meet the needs of everyone from solo entrepreneurs and emerging startups to small enterprises and large global firms. The city provides unparalleled support and facilities, ensuring seamless, efficient, and swift business operations. Regardless of your business’s scale or sector, Dubai offers a wide array of options for budget, licensing, location, and office spaces.
Choosing Dubai for your company’s formation brings a host of significant advantages, including tax benefits, robust governance, state-of-the-art infrastructure, a high-quality lifestyle, and ever-expanding opportunities. Additionally, Dubai’s strategic position grants effortless access to over 2 billion consumers across various markets, all within a mere 4-hour flight radius. This prime location contributes to Dubai’s diverse, international, and multicultural talent pool, making it an ideal setting for businesses aiming for global reach and influence.

Reasons to Establish Your Business in the UAE

Establishing a business in Dubai is a strategic move in today’s global economy. With its thriving business environment, strategic location, top-notch infrastructure, and dynamic market, the UAE offers ample opportunities for growth. A&A Associate LLC is here to support you every step of the way. Our expert team provides customized solutions for setting up your business in Dubai or anywhere else in the UAE, including company incorporation services. Let us help you tap into the benefits of doing business in the UAE.

What benefits come with establishing a business in Dubai?

Dubai is widely recognized as the Middle East’s equivalent to Silicon Valley, serving as a central point for entrepreneurs, startups, agency heads, and large enterprises. There are numerous benefits to launching a business in Dubai:

  • Companies in offshore and free zones benefit from a 0% corporate tax rate.
  • The costs associated with starting a business in Dubai are relatively low when compared to other areas in the Middle East.
  • New businesses registered in Dubai can tap into a vast market.
  • Female entrepreneurs are provided with a smooth pathway to bring their business visions to life.2

Establishing a Business in Dubai

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Business Consultation

Discuss your business needs, legal structure, office setup, and shareholder details with our experts for tailored guidance on setting up your business. Benefit from Dubai's top business setup services, offering extensive support with minimal requirements.

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Strategic Location Options

Choose from trading within the mainland UAE, exploring the advantages of free zones tailored to every industry, or conducting business internationally via offshore regions. Each option offers significant benefits to suit your business model.

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Licensing and Documentation

Organize the required documents such as the Application Form, Lease and Tenancy Contracts, and the Memorandum of Association. Our team will handle the remaining procedures to ensure a seamless setup process.

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Visa and Identification

The visa requirements for you, your employees, and dependents will differ based on the business location and type. Our experts are here to guide you through every step, ensuring a smooth transition to life in the UAE.

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Banking Solutions

Opening a corporate bank account is crucial for business setup in Dubai or the UAE. Our team will guide you in selecting the right bank—local, international, or digital—to meet your financial needs, ensuring a smooth start in the UAE's business environment.

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What types of businesses qualify for company setup in Dubai?

At A&A Associate LLC, we provide a full suite of services to facilitate the seamless establishment of your company in the UAE. Our experienced team specializes in company formation and is dedicated to guiding you through the intricacies of setting up your business in Dubai. Dubai offers a wide array of business opportunities for entrepreneurs, including professional services, trading, and e-commerce ventures such as:
  • Limited Liability
  • Company (LLC)
  • Free Zone Company
  • Branch Office
  • Partnership Offices
  • Onshore and Offshore Offices
Our specialists will help you pinpoint the ideal business activity for your project while ensuring that all legal requirements are met. Leveraging our deep understanding of the UAE’s business environment, we strive to make your company formation experience in Dubai both thrilling and straightforward.

Comparison Between Free Zone and Mainland Business Setup

When registering a company in Dubai, a crucial decision is choosing between establishing on the mainland or within a free zone. Location plays a significant role in setting up a new business in Dubai. Affordable business setup options are available in Dubai’s numerous free zones or on the mainland, also known as onshore.
Dubai introduced the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) in 1985, marking the inception of the first free zone in the UAE and the entire Middle East. Initially hosting 19 companies, JAFZA rapidly expanded and, within ten years, became the first free zone globally to receive ISO certification. Its success set a precedent for the development of multiple free zones, each providing unique strategic advantages. These zones are now home to thousands of foreign entities and individuals who have established branches or wholly owned companies in Dubai.
In 2021, amendments to the UAE Commercial Companies Law permitted foreigners or foreign entities to wholly own businesses in the UAE under specific regulations. Following these amendments, the Dubai Government allowed 100% foreign ownership for over 1,000 commercial and industrial activities in the emirate. Consequently, many established mainland businesses are revising their ownership structures, and a growing number are exploring new business ventures in Dubai.

Comparison between Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

The legal entity of your business setup 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.
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Specialization versus Tasks

When establishing a new business in Dubai, selecting one or more specific activities for your license application is essential. While most business activities face few limitations, certain ones are restricted or outright banned.
Selecting an activity is straightforward if you have expertise in a specific area. Yet, for broader categories such as ‘retail’ or ‘trade’, the choices expand into numerous options, sectors, and specialized activities. Dubai’s free zones, organized by industry sectors, simplify the process of finding a suitable location for your business. Renowned centers like the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC), Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Internet City (DIC), and Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA) are prime examples. Newer free zones may offer more versatile licensing options, encompassing professional, commercial, and industrial activities under a single license.
For businesses on the mainland, it’s crucial to precisely define your business’s nature and its activities. Dubai provides a wide array of over 1,000 activities for wholly owned businesses, covering diverse fields such as construction, jewellery, logistics, food and beverage, education, and hospitality.
The UAE has a very robust and stable banking system, consisting of local and international banks. Most banks have state of the art internet banking services, enabling clients to access their account and perform transactions regardless of where they are
Our team of legal experts, certified accountants, and financial advisors will assist you in conducting feasibility studies, due diligence, and corporate organization and reorganization, ensuring a smooth establishment of your company in Dubai.

FAQ

What are the benefits of forming a company in Dubai?

Dubai offers a dynamic business environment with a strategic location that bridges East and West. Benefits include a tax-free regime on personal and corporate income, world-class infrastructure, and access to a diverse and skilled workforce. The emirate also provides strong intellectual property protection and numerous free zones catering to specific business types, offering full foreign ownership and no import or export duties.

Dubai allows the formation of several types of business entities including Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Free Zone Companies, Offshore Companies, and Sole Proprietorships. Each type has its specific benefits and regulatory frameworks, suitable for different business needs and objectives.

The process typically involves choosing a company name and getting it approved, selecting the type of business entity, applying for a business license, and submitting the necessary documentation (such as passport copies and business plan) to the relevant authorities. For Free Zone companies, the process is generally quicker and can often be done online.

Foreign investors generally need a local sponsor or partner who holds 51% of the shares in non-Free Zone companies. However, Free Zones allow 100% foreign ownership. Additionally, certain business activities might require approvals from specific governmental bodies.

The time frame can vary depending on the type of company and the chosen setup location. Typically, forming a company in a Free Zone can be accomplished in a week or two, while forming an LLC in the mainland may take more time due to additional approvals required.

Legal requirements include obtaining the necessary business licenses, adhering to registration procedures, and ensuring compliance with the UAE’s commercial laws. Specific licenses might also be required based on the business activity.

For mainland companies, a local sponsor who is a UAE national is required, and they must hold at least 51% of the company’s shares. In contrast, Free Zones offer the possibility of 100% foreign ownership, eliminating the need for a local sponsor.

Dubai offers a tax-free environment with no personal or corporate income tax. However, there is a 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) applied to goods and services. Companies engaged in international trade may also be subject to customs duties, which vary by product.

Yes, foreign companies can establish branches or subsidiaries in Dubai. Both entities can be 100% foreign-owned if they are set up in one of the Free Zones. Each type has different legal identities and business scopes.

Companies must renew their business licenses annually, maintain proper accounting records, and comply with any sector-specific regulations. For companies subject to VAT, regular filings are required.

The cost varies significantly depending on the type of company and its location. Forming a company in a Free Zone might cost anywhere from AED 15,000 to AED 50,000 or more, while mainland company formation might require AED 30,000 to AED 70,000, including all governmental fees, sponsorship fees, and office space requirements. Additional costs may arise from legal, consultancy, and miscellaneous administrative expenses.

Yes, Dubai has over 30 Free Zones designed for specific industries such as Jebel Ali Free Zone for logistics and trade, Dubai Internet City for IT and telecom, Dubai Media City for media-related businesses, and Dubai Healthcare City for medical services and healthcare providers. Each zone offers tailored facilities and benefits making them advantageous for relevant industries.

Typical documents required include a completed application form, business plan, passport copies of the shareholders and directors, NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the current visa sponsor if applicable, and proof of initial approval from the relevant Free Zone or government authority. Additional documents might be required based on the specific business activity and company type.

Many Free Zones in Dubai offer the option to set up a company remotely by submitting documents online and working through a registered agent. However, for certain legal procedures and bank account openings, physical presence in the UAE might still be required at some point.

Dubai provides a wide range of support services for new businesses including consultancy services, legal advice, and networking opportunities through various chambers of commerce and business councils. Additionally, many Free Zones offer business setup services, including help with registration, licensing, and office space leasing.

For mainland companies, it is typically mandatory to have a physical office space. However, many Free Zones offer flexible office solutions like shared workspaces or virtual offices that fulfill the requirement for a registered address without the need for large physical premises.

Once a company is established, owners and employees are eligible to apply for UAE residence visas. The number of visas that can be issued is often linked to the size of the office space rented or the type of business activity. These visas are typically valid for two or three years and are renewable.

Yes, there are no restrictions on owning multiple companies in Dubai. Entrepreneurs can set up multiple companies under different jurisdictions (mainland and various Free Zones) depending on their business needs