How to open a company in Dubai

Dubai is often referred to as one of the most important business hubs in the Middle East. The emirate is a successful, somewhat eccentric and attractive destination both for businessmen and tourists. Dubai has a growing economy that managed to break off from the oil monopoly and today it has well-developed tourism, trade, transport, and logistics business sectors. Investors can follow this summary on how to open a company in Dubai if they want to set up their businesses in one of the UAE’s most attractive business destinations.

Choosing the type of company

Foreign investors in Dubai and the rest of the emirates that comprise the UAE are generally allowed to own up to 49% of a UAE-registered company. Foreigners who want to have 100% ownership of their Dubai company need to open a business entity in one of the many free trade zones in the UAE. There are more than 40 special areas, most of them being in Dubai, and each catering for a specific business activity. Another important advantage of these free zones is that investors who open a company here are exempt from personal taxes, import and export taxes and they benefit from a waiver on corporate taxes.

The main types of business entities in Dubai are the sole trader (the one person company), the simple limited partnership and the partnership, the limited liability company, the civil company, the private and public joint stock company, the branch and the representative office. The incorporation requirements will differ according to the chosen type of legal form and according to any existing special requirements in the chosen free trade zone.

Registering your new business in Dubai

Company incorporation in Dubai is a process that includes a few key steps. After selecting the free trade zone most suitable for conducting business and the legal form, investors need to choose a suitable and available business name. This is performed with the Department for Economic Development in Dubai (DED). The trade name can be reserved with the DED for 72 hours, the application is subject to certain fees and the trade name certificate is valid for six months, with the possibility of renewal.

After the approval of the trade name, the company founders need to apply for an Initial Approval Certificate with the DED. After this step, they need to prepare the company’s Memorandum of Association – this is a step that will require the services of a law firm in Dubai and a notary.

The final three steps include: establishing a location for the business (via a tenancy contract or by buying a place), obtain any additional special licenses from the DED and the Dubai Health Authority (only if required for your type of business) and collecting the business license from the DED.

Once these steps are complete, you can start managing your new company in Dubai and hire employees. Having a local partner or agent can be helpful in most cases. We encourage investors to seek further help from a professional agent in company formation when deciding to open a company in Dubai.

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