How to Start a Business in the UAE for Foreigners

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With its known prosperous economy, the UAE is steadily growing. Plus, there aren't any taxes. With time, it has gained a reputation as a prominent business hub. It is no surprise to see why it attracts many entrepreneurs around the globe. As time passes, more and more investors invest their money into their businesses in the UAE. Besides the %0 tax rate, the UAE has a highly critical global location, and incorporation procedures are simple. Along with these, there are long-term visas that can help people own a business in the UAE. Also, there are many more innumerable benefits of having a business in the UAE.

If you are a foreigner looking to start a business in the UAE, we will guide you through the process.

Business Plan

The first action to take will be thinking about which type of business you will invest. You should research and investigate the local businesses and the business types. Oil is significant in the industry as the country has %6,6 of the world's oil reserves. Furthermore, it is estimated to last 100 more years. However, the non-oil industry constitutes approximately %70 of the GPD.

With the young population, the UAE's economy is continuously growing. The demand for leisure, infrastructure, real estate, and utilities is high. Also, The UAE has the world's 15th largest defense and security fund and is estimated to grow in the next two years.

Because Gulf carriers are the three fastest-growing airlines, aviation accounts for approximately 27 percent of Dubai's GDP growth. The UAE's waste sector investment is estimated to skyrocket from £95 million in 2013 to £365 million by 2017.

Corporate Structure

When you decide on the type of business you want, you will choose one of the two major types of corporate structure.

Limited Liability Company

Abbreviated as LLC, this type of corporate structure allows multiple shareholders from two to fifty to assemble to form a company. It is the most used structure as it allows import/export and trading activities both locally and internationally. However, to form an LLC company, you have to partner with a UAE national. This local sponsor will be your silent partner, who you will be paying an annual fee. It is also possible for a foreigner to fully own their business, but there are requirements to meet and a precipitous deposit required for it. You can skip the step of finding a local partner if your company is in a free zone.

Sole Establishment

This type of structure is for people who are thinking of owning and operating by one person. Consultancy and IT are examples of this kind of structure.


There are considerable differences between setting up your company in a free zone or on the mainland.


 If you set up your company on the mainland, you can trade both locally and internationally. Setting up your company in the mainland is well-organized. Furthermore, you can have your license just in a day.

Free Zones

 Setting up your business in a free zone has many advantages for new businesses. Some of the free zones are JAFZA, DAFZA, and Dubai Media City. Rules may vary from one zone to another zone. There are slight differences in setup formalities.

Trade License

The Registration and licensing get done at the same time. There are four types of licensing such as commercial, professional, industrial, and tourism. To register your business, you will have to provide the required documents.


After you submit all of the required documents, you will receive a payment voucher. You are required to pay within 30 days of receiving the voucher.


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