How to Set Up Your Business in the UAE

When you are thinking of expansion of business and setting up your office in the middle east, UAE is the location which comes to your mind. Now after careful selection of site, it becomes necessary to make sure that no regulations are skipped, and the local requirement is met. Well, the procedures are relatively simple and require planning and strategy to enter a market. Since time is a crucial aspect, understanding and then making amendments to your business for business set up becomes a time-consuming affair, with possibilities of reconsideration and changes in documentation. Hence the need for business setup consultation arises.UAE provides a variety of incentives and benefits for establishing your business. Some of these are:

  1. 100% foreign ownership in allowed ( depending on area)
  2. 100% repatriation of capital and profits.
  3. Negligible corporate and personal income tax.
  4. Limited restrictions on hiring workforce
  5. Shared services and synergies with other companies
  6. No bureaucratic Red Tapism
  7. State of the art infrastructure.

UAE offers unique tax planning opportunities to international businesses, has an impressive network of double tax treaties, no withholding tax on dividends and interest paid and no levy on capital gains.

The country also offers excellent services, infrastructure, and business network that each year thousands of businesses are established in this region. It is a booming place for startup businesses, manufacturing, and hospitality and services sector. Types of business entities or structures that can be set up in UAE:

  1. Establishment or Sole Proprietorship
  2. General Partnership Company
  3. Limited Partnership Company
  4. Joint Participation
  5. Public Joint Stock Company
  6. Private Joint Stock Company
  7. Limited Liability Company

There are also different ways a company formation can be setup in UAE; this also depends on the business model. Companies looking to trade and operate in UAE are required to register as a company, branch office, or place of business. It is also necessary to determine what activities will be carried out because companies need a license based on the work or operation to the activity in the particular area.

Free Zone Registration: UAE has more than 40 Free Zones and offers 100% ownership of the business, unlike the mainland companies. They also provide 100% import and export tax exemption, 100% capital repatriation of capital and profits. When you own a free zone company, you can only do business in the free zone.  A free zone also provides the facility of office space or warehouse. The types of companies available within free zones differ, but the basic types available are:

  • Branch office and Representative Office- Companies of foreign origin may establish branched or representative offices to carry out business activities. However the companies are not allowed to manufacture or sell goods locally.
  • Subsidiary (for example, companies with suffix DMCC, JLT, FZ-LLC, FZE, FZCO)

Offshore Company: When you set up a UAE offshore company business operation is not allowed in the UAE. However, UAE as a base is utilized to do business in the rest of the world. An offshore company can be set up in Dubai. But in most cases, it is better to set up an offshore company in RAK with a registered office in Dubai.

Onshore Jurisdiction: Ruled by federal laws and regulations, the most common types of businesses within the onshore jurisdiction for corporate clients are:

  • Representative office
  • Branch office
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Sole Establishment/Professional License

Limited Liability Company: This type of company allows for a joint venture between UAE National and foreign partners. Expatriate partners are permitted to hold shares not exceeding 49% of the capital, with the UAE national partner holding the remaining 51%.

Office Space Requirements

The United Arab Emirates has always been a real estate-driven economy, and it is a law that a company license is always linked to the size of the office space as stated in the official local tenancy contract. Hence a business set-up in the UAE is always a combination of license, legal entity, and facility.

Free zones offer flexible desk solutions to provide companies with affordable options for office space. The conditions of minimum office space differ from one jurisdiction to another. Local statutory rules will often require companies to appoint officers such as a manager, directors and a company secretary.

Company License

While choosing a free zone jurisdiction, it is mandatory to decide the type of activity and industry of the business that is being set up. Each free zone specializes in a certain industry and business activity.

Almost all company licenses in the onshore jurisdiction are available in any sector, but the licenses are linked to the permitted type of entities. Some business activities are reserved for LLC, and some are for the branch of foreign entities.

A company license from the onshore jurisdiction can be used to operate in the whole UAE. However, the situation is different for a Free zone company, as a business license from a free zone jurisdiction allows the company to operate only within the free zone and outside the UAE.

Company Formation with Business Setup Worldwide Consultants

As explained above that while setting up your business in UAE, a variety of documents and legal actions are required in compliance with the local government. The network, the people and the location are some of the major reasons to move your business to UAE. Hence to smoothly establish the same, Business Setup Worldwide Consultants provide excellent consulting services for your business. The team has a dearth of experience in setting up various businesses in UAE. Hence to know further about business setup management or UAE business setup, write to us at

About the Author

renil.mj's picture

Renil is a business analyst and creative writer, currently working in Abu Dhabi. Interested in advertising, digital marketing and business research, Renil loves to read science-fiction novels in his free time, which he rarely gets!