Options for business setup in Dubai
Dubai has been one of the fastest growing geographies over the past three to four decades. The rulers have been forward-looking and pragmatic and have invested in making Dubai attractive for business. This includes investments in building quality infrastructure, legislating business-friendly rules which make it easy and quick to hit the markets running, plus the location and tax benefits add to the attraction of setting up shop in Dubai.
The licensing for a new business is a simple process, the categories of businesses that can be set up here basically fall within one of these groups; Industrial, Commercial, Professional or Tourism activity. Within each of these groups, a detailed listing of activities is available duly categorized in logical parent categories. The details are readily available on the Government websites for a prospective businessman to view and consider.
Once you have identified the activity or activities that you would like to focus your new business on then you need to consider the legal business form of the business entity. There are six commonly opted business entity types that you can register, these are; Sole Proprietorship, Civil Company (for professional), Limited Liability Company, Private Joint Stock Company, Simple Limited Partnership, and Foreign Company Branch or Representative Office.
The documentation requirements and setup requirements are different for each of these business entity types. In case of professional license in the entity form of Sole Proprietorship of Civil Company, it is possible for an expatriate to have 100 % ownership of the business. A National Service Agreement is signed by appointing a UAE national as an agent for the company to support all Government related activities.
While in case of other business entity types the local ownership would be to the extent of 51 %, the local ownership can be by way of a natural person or a legal entity. The rights and obligations of each party are duly recorded in a document which is subjected to Court Notarisation and considered legally valid.
Depending on the activity additional approvals may be required to be obtained, there are clear guidelines available on which authority approvals are required and these are also logical in nature. For e.g., if the activity is related to banking, then the Central Bank approval might be requested depending on the specific nature of the activity.
The process involves, identifying and registering a name for your business, then submit the documents of the investors along with details of activity and entity type required to the authorities for a pre-approval. Once approved, you need to identify a place of business (office, warehouse, factory) for the business, get the legal documentation completed, arrange for all additional approvals as required. All these within a stipulated period of time.
Once all the above is completed the complete set of documentation is submitted back to the relevant authorities who issue you with a Trade License. This Trade License is the identity of your business entity and can be used to open bank accounts, sponsor the investors’ visa and also recruit employees and sponsor their work-permits and visas.
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Business setup in Dubai is by far the most easy and simple process, given that the country focuses on making itself business friendly as well as improving its ranking on the ease of doing business by constantly reviewing and making changes to address noted pain points.
Recently the Government has increased the scope of activities available specifically in the agriculture sector for business setup in Dubai. This is with a focus on food security initiatives that the Government has focused on over the past several years.