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Frequently Asked Questions About Incorporating in Dubai



Dubai has rapidly become one of the premier hubs for businesses around the world in recent years, and is now appealing to companies of all shapes and sizes and in all industries. Faced with the overwhelming uncertainty of exploring new markets, however, it’s common for interested businesses to be filled with a variety of questions.  


In order to provide one source of information for all of the most commonly occurring queries that regularly come up, we’ve aggregated the list of questions—and answers—that can address each and every one of your concerns pertaining to incorporating a business in Dubai.



Dubai is a leading market for businesses across industries for good reason—an intellectual, tech-savvy workforce, a world-class technological infrastructure and a pro-business government has opened the doors for companies of all sizes to find success and profitability. 


One of the unique features that set Dubai apart are the specially marked areas of the city known as free zones, areas in which businesses can leverage 100% ownership alongside tax-exempt status. 


This is often a difficult question to answer because the requirements vary on a case-by-case basis. Typically, there are three major areas to consider:


Onshore companies face, by far, the stiffest restrictions. Encompassing all businesses not located within a free zone but operating within the UAE market, onshore companies must have at least 51% of their shares owned by UAE shareholders. 


An offshore company, in contrast, is defined as a company that is registered in the UAE but operates elsewhere. In these situations, foreign shareholders can possess 100% of the company shares without any issue. 


Finally, a free zone company is one that operates within the boundaries of one of Dubai’s 30 free zones. These businesses not only are exempt from taxes but also can be completely foreign owned, even if they’re operating within the wider UAE market. 


Finally, there is one special case that needs to be addressed—regardless of where the company in question is incorporated, it is possible to be entirely foreign-owned if your business activities place it under the banner of specific industries, with certain exceptions.


During the process of incorporation, businesses are forced to acquire a business licence according to the activities that they intend to carry out. In a very general sense, they fall under four categories:


·      Professional licences

·      Commercial licences

·      Trading licences

·      Industrial licences


These four licences will typically cover the gamut of the most common business activities, however, there are also special licences that may be required depending on the nature of your operations. Companies that fall under the medical field would require a special licence from the UAE Health Ministry, for example. 


One of the great advantages to opening a business in Dubai is just how quickly the bureaucratic process can sort itself out. Once an agent has been appointed to manage your file, the entire process from start to finish can be completed in just a few days. This means that your business can get up and running much more quickly.


While actual registration will take little time, there are many things that you’ll need. Namely, they are:


·      The selection of an appropriate business form

·      A corporate Memorandum

·      Articles of Association

·      Approval from the Dubai Department of Economic Development

·      A VAT number

·      The appropriate business licence


Having all of these documents ahead of time will ensure that business registration progresses without interruption. 


Over the past few years, Dubai has cemented itself as one of the most attractive markets in the world for businesses. With more and more foreign companies interested in breaking into the lucrative market, it’s common for a few core questions to regularly resurface. This article has collected a few of these queries pertaining to incorporating a business in Dubai in order to provide you with all of the answers you might need to get the ball rolling. 

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