Company Formation In The UAE

Company Formation In The UAE

Anil Rathore

  February 2023
  by Anil Rathore

  Anil Rathore- emailAnil Rathore - LinkedIn Profile

Anil Rathore

February 2023
  by Anil Rathore

Anil Rathore - emailAnil Rathore - LinkedIn Profile

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is known as one of the leading business hubs across the globe, with Dubai being the epicenter of large-scale investments, digital transformation, and overall sustainable growth in the region. In this article, we will explore some of the major reasons that make the UAE an attractive and leading choice amongst investors and entrepreneurs.

We will also discuss some of the investing possibilities and the different legal structures, frameworks, and jurisdictions available under the different Emirates (with a focus on Free Zone Companies in Dubai).


The UAE is a combination of 7 Emirates namely, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al- Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah. Amongst the 7 Emirates, Dubai is well recognized for the diverse business strategies and opportunities it has to offer. It also provides a variety of business solutions to choose from with respect to company structuring, keeping in mind the ever-evolving business landscape around the globe. The different kinds of company structuring available in the UAE include –

1. UAE Free Zone Company (FZC) Formation – Under this category, the UAE offers over 40 options to investors including expatriates and foreign investors, thus, enabling them to have full ownership in the region. FZCs are limited liability entities that are subject to the laws and regulations governing the respective free zone authorities. The three (3) crucial elements to be considered when setting up an FZC include –

  • Selecting the company structure and the right FZ: Choosing the most appropriate FZ for your business is pivotal and therefore, one must identify the FZ based on the type of business activities to be carried out. FZCs are benefitted from 100% ownership rights to expatriates. The entrepreneur may choose from an FZ Establishment and an FZ Company. While the former permits one shareholder, the latter is considered for a company with two or more shareholders.
  • Tradename: It is recommended that one verifies the proposed trade name via the website of the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the respective free zone authority that governs the business setup.
  • Application for a business license: It pertains to the primary business activity, which serves as the ultimate validation of a legitimate business within the UAE.
  • Selecting an office space: The place of business is crucial and FZs provide business owners with the flexibility to choose between a dedicated office space and to flexi-desk option.

2. UAE Mainland Company Formation - The Department of Economic Development in Dubai is the appropriate authority for handling the registration process under this category. The scope of business under this category is wide, and in accordance with a recent announcement, such companies are now authorized to be incorporated with 100% ownership of business by an expatriate, which was previously limited to 49% ownership with the remaining ownership in the hands of a local/ UAE national.

3. UAE Off-Shore Company Formation – It refers to the category of companies that are registered in the UAE, however, conduct business activities outside the country. UAE Off-Shore companies are limited liability companies, ideally formed in the UAE for the purpose of international business expansion in a cost-effective manner. Companies under this category do not receive a trade license and are, therefore, restricted from conducting business activities within the UAE. There are three (3) offshore zones available in the UAE that are RAK International Corporate Centre (RAK ICC), Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), and Ajman Free Zone.

5 Key Factors that make Dubai FZ an ideal choice for setting up business in the UAE

The setting up of an FZC is considered to be relatively less complex and more effective in terms of money and time as compared to other types of company formations (the list of FZs in the UAE may be viewed here). Some of the most critical aspects to be considered for choosing an FZ for your business registration include -

  • Ownership: The company is under the sole possession of the investor(s), which means that 100% foreign ownership is permitted.
  • Company Incorporation: The procedure for company formation in an FZ is simple, hassle-free, and inexpensive.
  • Exemption: FZCs are exempted from import and export duties in the UAE along with other tax benefits as well. This enables trade with no currency restrictions.
  • Recruitment Process and Immigration: The processes and formalities pertaining to labor recruitment and onboarding are speedy, cost-effective, and less cumbersome as compared to other business setups outside the FZs.
  • Office Space: Suitable for SMEs and start-ups, FZs facilitate the option of choosing between a dedicated office space to a flexi-desk to various serviced Business Centers.


In recent years, the commercial sectors in the UAE have experienced substantial expansion, whereby Dubai has emerged at the top of the list as an ideal business center for starting new opportunities. Prefer to set up a business in the UAE? It does not matter whether you are an entrepreneur, investor, or a large corporation, we can assist you with your journey into the UAE with tailored made solutions, specially curated to suit your business objectives (including if you are situated in any other jurisdiction outside the UAE).

CMI has a team of professionals specialized in providing end-to-end solutions for company formation (including corporate structuring, policy management, procuring requisite licenses, IP registration, and so on). For any related query, you can reach out to us: Call/WhatsApp: +971 562224688; Email:; or Visit:

Disclaimer: The above content is for general guidance and no information as given herein by CMI should be construed as advice or recommendation or solicitation, nor should it be considered as legal, regulatory, credit, tax, or accounting advice. CMI undertakes responsibility only when an engagement with the Client has been formalized between the parties involved under the terms agreed thereby.