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How Foreign Entrepreneurs Can Start a Business in Dubai


The emirate welcomes an increasing number of foreign investors and businesspeople each year, drawn by its favorable business environment. One of the most recent changes is the long-term visa, which allows foreigners to stay in the UAE for extended periods and potentially retire here at the end of their careers. With proper help, non-residents can establish their business in the United Arab Emirates and run it from anywhere in the world. A booming economy, political stability, ease of starting a business, tax exemptions, and quick procedures are just a few advantages for foreigners establishing new ventures in Dubai.

Choose a Business Activity

Dubai company formation business license must have a specific predefined Activity or Activity Category when establishing your company in the United Arab Emirates. The appropriate business registration authority provides a list of business activities from which this is selected. As a result, effectively establishing your business depends on understanding which business activity is relevant to your business plan.

Although you can choose to operate more than one activity under one business, the cost of your license will go up significantly if you do more than one (depending on your jurisdiction and the chosen activities).

Selecting the appropriate category is important for selecting the appropriate jurisdiction in which to launch your business.

Choose the Right Jurisdiction for Company Setup in Dubai

You will now have the option to establish a business in Dubai or anywhere else in the United Arab Emirates in one of three jurisdictions, depending on the activity you have chosen.

  • Mainland
  • Free zones
  • Offshore

As the names suggest, free zones are areas under the jurisdiction of specific authorities within an emirate that provide business benefits specific to certain activities, whereas mainland companies register directly with the economic development authority of an emirate. Economic activity by an offshore business is prohibited within the United Arab Emirates.

Selecting the appropriate jurisdiction can have several advantages for your company. Some free zones, like the Jebel Ali Free Zone, provide infrastructure and tax advantages for importing goods, while others offer unique incentives for specific types of businesses. However, a mainland company is the best option if you want to conduct business freely throughout the United Arab Emirates.

Note that not every free zone option offers access to every activity. Free zones provide customized versions of the over 2,000 activities available to mainland companies.

Choose a name for the business

You must reserve a trade name before registering your business. The nature of your business should be accurately reflected in your company name. The OnDemand International legal advisors can help you select a name that doesn’t already exist, fits with your business operations, and isn’t offensive to anyone.

Gather All the Necessary Documents

The procedure for this may differ depending on the jurisdiction you have selected. You must complete the necessary forms from the Department of Economic Development in the Emirate of your choice for the mainland and submit them with copies of your shareholder passports.

At this point, office space is another important consideration. It is necessary to provide a tenancy contract, or “Ejari,” when registering for the majority of company types. Since the address on your Ejari will be regarded as your official office, you must choose the appropriate office before starting the registration process for your business. As an alternative, you could purchase a virtual office.

Certain free zones might need extra paperwork, like your business plan or NOCs. Additionally, it’s possible that your documents will need to be translated into Arabic.

Obtain a Trade license For your Company 

To launch a business in Dubai as a foreigner, you must first obtain a license. A trade license can be obtained directly from the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the appropriate free zone authorities.

Open Your Business Bank Account in Dubai

There are a few compliances needed to open and maintain a bank account in the United Arab Emirates. The government and banks keep a close eye on financial transactions, and failing to comply with certain regulations may result in fines or the rejection of your application to open an account.

Apply for a Business Visa

To allow people to travel in and out of the nation for business, a business visa is necessary. It also permits three senior business employees to submit a residency application. Foreign nationals can apply for a long-term visa for themselves and their dependents if they want to establish a business in Dubai. You can get in touch with the local embassy to obtain the visa. Additionally, those who are prepared to relocate to the United Arab Emirates to establish a business are qualified to apply for a business visa.


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