If you are a foreign investor looking for a dynamic business hub to set up your company, Dubai is the exact location. Dubai caters to start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, and Multinational companies with the same ease, speed, efficiency, and service. There is also a basket of choices available for every type of setup regarding location, budget, activity, and licenses.

New Business Setup in Dubai

A new business set up in the UAE or Dubai means several benefits such as superior infrastructure, good governance, tax savings, and new opportunities. Another advantage is Dubai’s strategic location. Known as the “Gateway to the West,” one can access 2 billion consumers in markets around UAE.

Mainland and Free zone location

A Business Setup in Dubai can be in Mainland or specialized Free Zones depending on the business activity. The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) is the first free zone In Dubai. Over the years, several other free zones have opened up that provide strategic benefits to entrepreneurs and business owners. These Free zones have companies owned 100 % by foreign individuals and MNCs who have branch offices here.

In 2021, the UAE government announced that foreign investors could have 100 % ownership in more than 1000 industrial and commercial activities, and local sponsorship was not mandatory. As a result, existing businesses with local Emirati partnerships are now amending their company ownership pattern.

Company Setup in Dubai – Proprietorship or Partnership?

The legal entity of the company in Dubai or anywhere else in the UAE depends on the type of business activity and the number of shareholders who can be natural or legal persons in the UAE.

If you are an entrepreneur or foreign investor planning to provide service-related activity in the UAE, a sole proprietorship structure will suffice. This is where one will require a professional license in Mainland Dubai. One can also register new businesses in any one of the 30 plus Free Zones in Dubai as

Freelancer Free Zone Entity- (FZE) 

Free Zone Company – (FZ CO)  

Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC)

If your business is commercial, such as contracting or trading, the best option would be to have a limited liability company (LLC) on Mainland where one can have up to 50 shareholders. If the shareholders are more than 50, then a company should be registered as a Private Limited Company (PLC).

One can also get licenses for setting up a branch or representative office, regional headquarters, and offices of a single-family owned company.

Approved Business Activities 

An investor needs to be aware of the types of business activities that are allowed or have restrictions and those that are prohibited when setting up a business in Dubai,

A business consultant like Alghaf Golden can help identify the approved businesses where the client can apply for a license. If you are already a specialist in a field, choosing a business activity will not be a hindrance. Also, if you are a professional such as an Accountant, Lawyer, advertising professional, Business consultant, teacher, professor, etc., then getting a professional license is easy.

Several Free Zone hubs in Dubai are classified by industry, and therefore it is easier to fit into the right business one is planning. For example, you have the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA), Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC), and Dubai Internet City (DIC), among others. Some new zones provide greater flexibility where businesses can get a single license that combines commercial, industrial, and professional activities.

For Mainland business activity, one has plenty of choices to start a business that can be 100% owned. Some key sectors include construction, contracting, gold and Jewellery, food, education, cargo and shipping, and hospitality.

Cost Of Business Setup in the UAE

The costs associated with a Business Setup in UAE depend on various factors such as location, type of business, the nature of company set up, the category of license applied for, and the number of visas required. There is no mandatory share capital requirement. The funds required are based on the size of the business and the company structure. Office Rental charges vary and depend on whether one wants virtual offices or large offices, warehouses, and workshops.

The total cost of setting up a business in Dubai can be categorized into four areas:

  • 1. Documentation, attestation, application fees, Licensing Fees, and Business consultancy fees
  • 2. Share capital
  • 3. Workspace / Office rentals and security deposits
  • 4. Visa processing fees for partners and employees
Easy Steps for Dubai Business Setup
  • 1. Decide business category and company’s structure.
  • 2. Select a valid business name and register it.
  • 3. Obtain a Preliminary Approval from DED
  • 4. Create a Memorandum of Agreement
  • 5. Hire Office Space or virtual office
  • 6. Obtain a Commercial License
  • 7. Membership in the Chamber of Commerce
  • 8. Leverage Local Sponsorship

There are many options for availing of a business or trade license in Dubai. The costs for licenses for start-ups and proprietorship businesses are attractive. Dubai’s economic Instant licenses come below AED 10,000. Typically, the licenses get issued on the same day. For Dubai international Free zones, e.g., the Dubai

IFZA trading license starts at AED 12,500 and is issued in less than a week.

There are different types of licenses issued by the authorities depending on the jurisdiction and business activity. They are

  • 1. Professional License
  • 2. General Trading License
  • 3. Free zone E-commerce license
  • 4. Dubai Trading license
  • 5. Freelancer license
  • 6. Conversion of existing Mainland license into 100% foreign ownership.

Business Setup Services in Dubai

Business Consultancies offer their clients different types of services. The packages include services that help set up a business smoothly without any hassle.

Professional License package 

Includes professional service licenses to lawyers, interior designers, advertising professionals, accountants, web designers, etc. When more than two professionals jointly offer service, their company is a civil corporation.

General Trading License 

Can import and export any products and do business outside and inside UAE through distributors. The license issued in 3- 5 days by Sharjah Media City Free Zone (SHAMS) can also do service-related activities. The Dubai IFZA Free zone issues the Dubai Trading license.

Free zone E-commerce License

License is issued by SHAMS, where the company can have its website and sell anything online. They can also sell from third-party eCommerce platforms like Amazon etc. The company can have 100 % foreign ownership and flexible office solution.

Freelancer license  

The freelancer license is issued by SHAMS and includes an investor visa for three years. A freelancer is free to undertake activity from approved business as per the UAE authorities.

Convert Existing Mainland License Without Sponsor

The license amendment requires approval from the DED.

The common deliverables for all the above services include 

  • 1. Trade License including general trading professional license
  • 2. Local Agent Agreement.
  • 3. Medical, Emirates ID, Change Status
  • 4. Residency Visa for Investor
  • 5. Trade name.
  • 6. MOA
  • 7. Initial approval.
  • 8. Certificate of incorporation
  • 9. Assistance in Notarization of Share transfer Agreement & Amendment to MOA for a license amendment

About Alghaf Golden Business Group 

Though it is easy to start a new business in Dubai, the company formation process can be time-consuming and lengthy. Foreign investors may not be well versed with the existing laws of the land and will require assistance from local business consultants to manage the legal and statutory matters. The best solution is to hire a professional business setup consultant in Dubai- Alghaf Golden Business Group, to carry out all the formalities on behalf of the client. We have a team of professionals who has expertise in legal, business, finance, marketing, taxation, and company laws.