Doing business in Dubai – what you need to know about the business setup process
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Doing business in Dubai – what you need to know about the business setup process


Doing business in Dubai – what you need to know about the business setup process

You visited Dubai countless times and you want to explore the opportunity of opening a business here because all signs show that it's a great place to start one. It's no surprise you chose Dubai as your business location because it's in the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe, it provides a talented and skilled workforce and has limited or no taxation for organisations. But it's a journey that requires patience, courage and dedication. It's wise to hire a company that provides business setup in Dubai to support you in the process. Dubai offers international exposure which is crucial when building brand value. It's one of the most vibrant places worldwide and they have been ranked 21st for the business opportunities it provides to entrepreneurs. It offers some trade-free zones that encourage businessmen to strive to run their own businesses.

Let's find out how you can start a business here.

What's the main activity of the business?

To easily get a business license you need to decide what its activity will be. It influences the type of license you need, so you shouldn't contact a business setup company before determining what you prefer. Before deciding upon one, check the list of operations Dubai allows. Before starting your company, you need permission from various departments.

So before picking the name or designing the products, make sure your business fits the city's standards.

What type of company do you want to open?

Foreign investors can choose from setting an LLC or a Freezone business.


For the entrepreneurs who want to start a mainland company, the LLC is the best choice.

When starting an LLC, you own only 49% of the organisation, the other 51% is owned by an Emirati company or national who needs to show their family book to prove their heritage. So, you need a partner for your business if you prefer this form. The LLC allows you to obtain a visa for you, your family members and some employees.

Most of the times the Emirati partner doesn't demand a percentage of the profits, they only ask an annual sponsorship fee.

To set an LLC you need a physical office. When looking for one remember that you pay 5% of the space's market rent to the government as part of the licensing cost. Even if you plan to work from home, you still need to rent a physical office.

You don't need a minimum capital to start your business, but you must consider the costs associated with the setup process. Depending on the office you rent, name of the venture, fee you pay to the sponsor and the type of activity you prefer, the costs can vary.


you don't want an Emirati partner set your business in one of the UAE's designated free zones and own 100% of your company. This type of company also allows you to get a visa for you, your family members and some of your employees. But free zones have special customs, tax and imports regimes because they have their own regulations. You can choose from 37 free zones in the UAE, each of them focusing on a certain business industry. So when you select the activity of the business, you also decide the industry of the free zone.

The most popular free zones are DMCC, DAFZ, DIFC, DSO, D3, Dubai Internet City, twofour54 and Masdar City.

Each one requires a different minimum capital, so check their regulations.

Have you found a local sponsor?

If you pick the LLC form you need to find a local sponsor and it's challenging to find a reliable individual. You can contact a business setup consultancy to help you with the paperwork and logistics and to connect you with an Emirati sponsor. Most organisations already have lists with reliable individuals they collaborate.

Register the business name

Once you know the business activity and the type of company you prefer, decide the name of the organisation. Make sure that it doesn't sound similar to an existing venture. If you don't know what rules you need to follow when you pick the name or you need help with the paperwork you should contact a company that provides business setup services. The name of the organisation needs to reflect the company's activity.

Rent a space

As stated above, you need to rent an office to get your license. When you find the perfect place, submit the tenancy agreement, Real Estate Regulation Authority Documents and EJARI with the DED to get the initial approval.

What documents do you need to set up a business?

Here are the main documents and certifications you need to start your company in Dubai.

1. Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Registration

2. License application

3. Tenancy contract

4. Passport copies for you and NOC for local sponsors

5. Attested LLC agreement

6. Initial approval certificate

7. Governmental forms External departments approval

8. EJARI registration certificate

9. Name reservation certificate

If you are a freelancer you don't have to get a NOC from a local sponsor. You can also initiate the process as a freelancer and upgrade to company formation later. As a freelancer you need a permit which you can get from the Department of Economic Development or a free zone.

To obtain a NOC you need to submit some documents like the passport copies of all business partners, the copy of the company's name reservation, copy of the business' articles of association and memorandum of association, cash guarantee of AED 50,000 and a letter, your local sponsor signs.

As you can notice, isn't easy to register a company in Dubai. It's wise to hire a company specialised in business setups to guide your steps. Make an appointment with a consultant to make the journey quick and cost effective because they have knowledge and expertise to help you get the needed documents and approvals. Because they are professionals, company formation happens faster than if you would navigate the process alone.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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