“I wish I could start a business!”
This is the question that runs through everyone’s mind but rarely formulates into an actual movement. Most people have their qualms about starting a business due to several different reasons. However, these days it has become a very easy task compared to ancient times, especially for those looking to invest in the soon-to-be world’s leading country in business, the UAE.
The first thing to look for when setting up a business in the UAE is what free zone you want to start in. Of course, it should be mentioned that there are three main zones: mainland, off-shore, and free zone.
Before you decide, there are certain key questions to ask yourself and these answers will conclude the best method of setting up a business in the UAE:
- What is your activity and where is your target market?
- Are you selling products or services?
- Do you want access to Government Companies and/or Oil and Gas?
There are a few things you should know about the free-zone:
- You can have 100% foreign ownership of the companies
- You will be exempt from corporate and personal taxes for a specified number of years.
- Some free-zones, like the Jabal Ali free zone, are most commonly used for import / re-export or for industrial or manufacturing companies.
- Many service-related companies also use free zones as their base of operations.
- It will be cheaper to start your business in a free-zone.
You’re going to need a few documents to get started which are listed below:
- Passport copy of the shareholders.
- Passport size photographs with white background.
- 2 – 3 suggested names for the new company.
- Specific required activity
- Number of visas required
If that doesn’t seem too daunting, there are a number of companies out there that can help you get started with your free-zone business.
Of the many free-zones in the UAE, those located in Dubai have proved to be the most lucrative. Let’s mention a few of them:
- Dubai Internet City: Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Oracle, HP, IBM, Dell, Siemens, Canon, Logica, Sony Ericsson, Schlumberger, and Cisco reside here. Need more be said?
- Dubai Media City: Members of DMC enjoy value-added services such as networking opportunities and one-stop-shop government services. DMC issues business licenses in the following sectors: Advertising and Communication, Media and Marketing Services, Media Support Services, Printing and Publishing, Music, Film, Broadcasting, Event Management, Event Support Services, Media Consultancy, New Media, Freelancers, and Non-Profit Associations.
- Dubai International Financial Center: DIFC offers high-class infrastructure, tax-free regime, decent location within Dubai, high-quality office and residential buildings. This makes DIFC the perfect base to set up a business in DIFC and take advantage of the region’s fast-growing demand for financial and business services.
- Dubai Design District: a.k.a d3 – As a hub of creativeness, d3 gathers innovators, creative thinkers, artists, designers, and inventors not only from the Middle East but also from other parts of the world.
- Dubai Healthcare City: DHCC supports the growth of the healthcare sector by providing a wide range of services in the healthcare sector that includes medical education and research, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and related support. DHCC is a healthcare hub where hospitals, research centers, clinics, and medical institutions can be established with full foreign ownership and enjoy other free zone benefits.
So let’s put it in more tempting terms:
- Ownership: Contrary to Limited Liability Company (LLC) clause (where your stake as a foreigner is limited) under Free zones, you get 100% ownership of your business. While other business settings require you to have a local sponsor/promoter, under the Dubai Free Zones laws, a single individual can set up the business.
- Ownership and lease options: You are eligible for additional perks such as 25 years of lease options. You can have assembly, production, and warehouse facilities.
- Dabble in more than one activity: You are not restricted to carry out just one business-related activity.
- Business confidentiality: What happens in Dubai, stays in Dubai.
- Bank account rules relaxation: You can open a bank account in your name in Dubai.
- Reasonable renewal fees: As mentioned before, it’s cheaper!
It may seem complicated at first sight, but those who want to make a profit in a country that’s leading the world in growth, setting up a business in the UAE is definitely the way to go.