Business & Entrepreneurship


Setting up your company in Dubai

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Dubai is a cosmopolitan emirate deemed a financial and trading hub. Home to the world’s tallest building and future host to Expo 2020, it is the place to set your business and make a difference

With its political and economic stability, it is a favorited ground for all nationalities of all ages.

Ten reasons to do business in Dubai:

-      Strategic location

-      World class infrastructure

-      Diversified economy

-      Open free system

-      Multinational talent pool

-      Knowledge hub

-      Political & economic stability

-      Extensive business support

-      Streamlined business establishment process

-      Established foreign trade network

Visionary leaders have plotted Dubai as their hub and they have planned and witnessed their success immensely.

With the assistance and vision of DED department of economic development to help business owners launch and expand their operations without the need for lengthily processes and administration. Home to over 20 economic free zones for additional added benefits and ways of doing business – Dubai has planned everything in the utmost professional manner to make your experience as smooth as possible

Various legal corporate structures are available for the establishment of a business in Dubai, based on the provisions of the Commercial Companies Law (CCL).

The table below provides an overview of some of the corporate vehicles available to set up in Dubai and certain salient comparative features of each:

Corporate structures

Structure of partners/ shareholders

Minimum capital requirement

General partnership

Two or more partners who owe joint and unlimited liability


Simple limited partnership

One or more general partners who owe joint and unlimited liability and one or more limited partners who owe limited liability


Joint venture capital

Two or more partners among whom, in principle, only a trading owes unlimited liability in relation to the counterparty and the other partners owe no liability. If the existence of the partnership is disclosed to a third party, all partners owe joint and unlimited liability in relation to the third party


Public joint stock company

10 or more shareholders who owe limited liability

AED 10,000,000

Private joint stock company

Three or more shareholders who owe limited liability

AED 2,000,000

Limited liability company

Two to 50 partners / shareholders who owe limited liability


Partnership limited by shares

General partners who owe joint and unlimited liability and limited partners who owe limited liability to the extent of their share in the partnership

AED 500,000

Branch of a foreign company



 The following table differentiates the salient features of a limited liability company (LLC) between mainland and the Free Zone jurisdictions 





A UAE national, or an entity owned by UAE nationals, must have 51% shareholding

100% shares may be owned by a foreign national

Minimum shareholders

A minimum of two shareholders

A minimum of one shareholder. A single shareholder LLC is titled a “Freezone Establishment” and a multiple shareholder LLC is titled a “Freezone Company”


The service agent must be a UAE national

No requirement to have a UAE national as service agent

Conduct of business

May conduct licensed activities in the mainland, subject to any restrictions

Entities doing business in Freezone cannot conduct business activities in mainland Dubai

Minimum capital requirement

The law prescribes no minimum capital requirements. However, the LLC is required to have capital that is sufficient for conducting its commercial objectives

LLC’s in the Freezone are required to have a minimum capital. The prescribed minimum capital varies between AED 50,000 to AED 1 million depending on the free zone


As such, no tax is paid by entities operating in Dubai, except for certain specific industries such as banking

Free zone laws prescribe a tax free period where establishments and employees are exempt from all taxes. The period is usually of 50 years, which is extendable

Physical office space



Customs duty

Normally 5% of the invoiced value is paid as customs duty

Corporate entities are exempt from payment of any customs duties if the imported goods are for company use or for re-export outside of the UAE

 With regards to UAE nationals and foreign nationals, an overview of the minimum ownership requirements is listed below

Corporate forms

UAE national requirement

General partnership

All the partners must be UAE nationals

Simple limited partnership

All the general partners must be UAE nationals

Joint participation venture

UAE national(s) should constitute at least 51% of the capital

Public joint stock company

UAE national(s) should constitute at least 51% of the capital, and must constitute the majority of the board of the directors. The chairman of the board of directors should be a UAE national too

Private joint stock company

As per Public joint stock company

Limited liability company

UAE national(s) should constitute at least 51% of the capital. A foreign national may be appointed as the manager and director of the company

Branch of a foreign company

Requirement of a UAE national as service agent if the branch is established in mainland Dubai

The Department of Economic Development issues licenses for entities set up in mainland Dubai.

These can be of three main types:

-          Commercial license (all kinds of trading)

-          Industrial license (manufacturing or industrial)

-          Professional license (professions, services and craftsmen)

We hope the above short explanation on the difference benefits you but rest assured, should you book a meeting with one of our consultants, all of your questions will be cleared on the spot! So pop by for a visit and a complimentary cup of tea, see you soon!

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