Business setup in Dubai


he United Arab Emirates (UAE) is made up of seven states located in the Middle East, more precisely in the Persian Gulf. As a consequence of its proximity to Asia, Europe and Africa, it has become a strategic point of economic investment.

Dubai is the most dynamic and modern emirate, ideal for doing business. That is why knowing how to establish a business in Dubai is essential if you are thinking of expanding your horizons.

How to start a business in Dubai?

Before starting a business setup in Dubai, you have to take into account the different legal aspects and regulations that apply in each of its areas.

There are two options for the formation of companies in Dubai: Dubai Continental and the free zones. Later, we’ll talk more about what specs each has. But, most importantly, the general instructions for getting started are the same.

We have helped many people to consolidate their company and we know the way very well. Below, you will find in detail the steps you must follow.

Step 1: choose the activity or commercial sector

The productive sector of your company can influence the area in which you decide to install it. For example: if your company depends on the import and export processes, the most favorable option would be to locate it near the port.

Being clear about the products or services that are going to be offered is essential to start a business. Although it may sound redundant, it is important to clarify it, since many people have the objective of establishing a business, but have not yet defined what to market.

In addition, depending on the commercial activity you choose, you will have to know all the legal rules and regulations that apply in that sector.

Step 2: choose the company name

When thinking of a name for your business, you should know that the United Arab Emirates has naming conventions. So you have to pay attention that the name of your company complies with this regulation.

Of course, offensive language is not accepted, much less a name that makes religious reference. As in any culture, it is essential to know their beliefs and particularities to avoid being disrespectful.

The procedure to name a company in Dubai can be done through the website of the Department of Economic Development. Once the state entity approves your trademark registration application, you will receive an approval letter.

Step 3: prepare the documentation

Once they have approved the nomenclature, they will ask you to complete a form with the name and activity of your company. This documentation must be delivered in the company of the investors’ passports.

Depending on the area you have chosen to start a business in Dubai, you will have to complete and submit additional information. However, if you have the right professionals, you don’t have to worry about paperwork.

Step 4: obtain a business license

The commercial or commercial license will be subject to the structure of the company. There are different licenses for: sole proprietorships, limited liability company and private liability company.

To obtain a business license, you must first have completed the online form from the Department of Economic Development. If all the information is correct, the state entity will issue your license to be able to establish a business in Dubai.

Step 5: open a bank account

To start your business, you will need to open an account at a local bank. In the United Arab Emirates there are branches of national banks, among many others, such as:

● Emirates NBD

● Commercial Bank of Dubai

● Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

And international:

● Citibank


● Barclays

To start your corporate account transactions, you must process a Memorandum of Association (MOA) in the office of a notary public. With the help of a lawyer, you can ensure that the document complies with the laws of the emirate.

Finally, you must register the company in the Commercial Registry to obtain a commercial registration certificate. Completing this last step, the company will appear in the records of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.

Step 6: process the visa

The last step, which is given as an optional benefit for directors and partners of the company company in Dubai, is to process a visa in the United Arab Emirates. This process combines two categories: residence and work permit. The State agencies involved in visa approval are the Department of Labor, the Department of Naturalization and Residence, and the Ministry of the Interior.

After you have registered your business, it will be much easier to process the residence visa. The approval process includes a mandatory medical exam and a residency issue application. Results usually take five business days, although there is the possibility of speeding up times by authorization in an emergency.

Once the visa is approved, it is entered in the passport and an UAE identification card is obtained.

Territories to start a business in Dubai

To establish a company in Dubai there are two great options: to do it in the free zones or in what is called Dubai Continental.

Free Zones in Dubai

Free zones are those territories that have specific taxes on national transactions or that have low tariffs for trade. These are very favorable spaces for world trade, since businesses located in free zones may be wholly owned by foreign investors.

In the rest of the emirate, to establish a company with foreign capital, it is necessary to have the support of a local partner. Thus, the company is not entirely of foreign investors. On the other hand, in the free zones it is allowed.

This commercial strategy is designed to encourage investment from other countries. It is for this reason that Dubai provides benefits in these territories, such as lowering taxes, customs fees and charges on both import and export.

All these aspects translate into that this state of the United Arab Emirates is the most propitious place to start a business. Next, we will introduce Dubai Free Zones and their qualities.

Dubai South Freezone

Dubai South Freezone offers a diversified market as it functions as a bridge between Dubai, Africa and South Asia. This communication is benefited by the various transportation options: air, land and sea, which, in turn, decrease distribution costs.

This industrial area is embellished and optimized by warehouses, offices and commercial points of sale. It develops companies from various sectors, such as hotels, food, aviation, technology, among others.

Jebel Ali Freezone

Jebel Ali Freezone is located in the vicinity of one of the largest container ports in the world. It is an excellent area for the proliferation of businesses related to the shipping sector or that require transportation for the import and export of supplies or products.

Created during the 1980s, today it houses 7,000 companies. In addition to its strategic location, Jebel Ali offers the advantage of forming a company exempt from customs taxes and duties.

Dubai Silicon Oasis

This productive region was created with the aim of encouraging the configuration of companies focused on new technologies. This free zone is owned by the Dubai government, under the entity of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.

It presents industrial, residential and also commercial spaces. Establishing a company in this sector of Dubai implies developing commercial activities associated with branches of technology such as engineering and electronics.

Many of the companies installed in this free zone are dedicated to the creation of software, mobile services and Internet companies.

Dubai Internet City

Dubai Internet City is a free zone that functions as a technology center. This business configuration is the largest group dedicated to ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in all of North Africa and the Middle East.

Investing in this area brings benefits such as: enjoying a tax-free activity, the possibility of being a foreigner and full owner of the company, the possibility of repatriating the entire capital, among many others.

Dubai Airport Free Zone

The proximity to the international airport offers companies a great facility to import and export. It is a global financial center that fosters the development of large companies, as well as small and medium-sized companies.

This free zone houses businesses such as banks, commercial entities and financial institutes.

Company setup in Dubai Continental

Operating outside the free zones is another option. A fundamental aspect of obtaining a business license in Dubai Continental is the need to have a local partner. This is not a difficult requirement to meet because investors are always interested in promoting new business.

Although it is not possible to fully own the company, there are other aspects in favor. One of them is that, by having one or more local partners, the company has the possibility of having a much stronger legal structure.

This territory offers is made up of several regions very conducive to business development. Among the most prominent are the following.

Sheikh Zayed Road

This area is crossed by Sheikh Zayed Road, the most iconic road in Dubai. In addition to being very extensive, it crosses two other emirates: Ras- al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. It has been one of the best and largest shopping malls in the emirate for fifteen years.

Its imposing infrastructure houses international companies from various sectors. Commercial companies and international corporate leaders choose this site to make their businesses flourish.

Business Bay

Business Bay is a product of the Dubai government’s idea of ​​establishing a district business sector in this region. This space is not only conducive for large companies, but also for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In addition, this territory is ideal for establishing businesses dedicated to entertainment and recreation. Being located near the Dubai Financial Center (DIFC) and next to the tallest skyscraper in the world (Burj Khalifa), it is configured as a very conducive epicenter for business.

Al quoz

Al Quoz is the region of Dubai Continental for the manufacturing and logistics industry. Divided into four sectors, it offers storage areas and manufacturing areas.

The characteristic of this territory is that the sector for small and medium-sized companies (zones 1 and 2), also has an infrastructure designed for family life. Within the area there is space for residential areas, educational institutions, health care centers, entertainment venues and shops of all kinds.

Furthermore, zones 3 and 4 are intended for the manufacturing and logistics sector. It is located near the airport, making transportation much easier, especially for the export of manufactures.


This region is located in the area known as Old Dubai, however, it is still considered as a commercial hub. Deira offers a different image of this emirate, a much more ethnic and cultural area. Still, the pace remains that of a fast-paced city, given that business is carried out in a highly updated way.

Deira is a conducive territory for establishing business in Dubai in various sectors. Here the hotel industry, professional points of sale, companies that provide services, jewelry, restaurants, among other businesses, are developed.

The most beneficial thing about installing a company here is that the real estate sector does not impose excessive restrictions and promotes the rental of premises at a very accessible economic level.


This region is perfect for setting up business in Dubai related to real estate and tourism. Luxury and lifestyle activities take place in this fabulous area of ​​Dubai.

Jumeirah is ideal for business training related to the hotel industry. In addition, it has a coastal residential area and an imposing shopping center that includes shops such as restaurants.

In conclusion

If you want to start a business in Dubai, there are two great options: you can do it in a free zone or in Dubai Continental. The decision should be based on your objectives and the characteristics of your company.

Whichever option you choose, you have to know that legal accompaniment is essential to succeed in a business setup in Dubai. It is very important to have the right professionals, with the necessary experience to accompany you at every step.

At Global BPA we have a highly trained team to advise and accompany you throughout the process, also offering you all the support that your company may need before, during and once you have established your company in Dubai.

Do not hesitate to contact us!

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