How to start a business in Dubai: Updated Guide 2024

how to start a business in Dubai?

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Dubai flourishing economy provides a wealth of possibilities for starting a business. It may be advantageous due to Dubai’s strategic position, varied market, and business-friendly atmosphere. The procedure to start a business in Dubai is quite simple. Here, we will discuss how to start a business in Dubai in detail with numerous steps and essential considerations you should be aware of.

Whether you choose to complete the process on your own or seek the help of business setup experts to expedite the process, make sure you get sound advice regarding a ramification of your choices. The business setup in Dubai Emirates has three primary options: the Freezone, the Mainland, and the Offshore. Stay with us to explore more.

Why Start a Business in Dubai?

If you are looking to start a business in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates are the best places. There are several attractive factors that attract thousands of new business owners from all over the world to the United Arab Emirates and especially to Dubai.

The UAE has numerous programs aimed to help new businesses get off the ground such as start-up incubators and financial opportunities. Corporate tax rates in the UAE are among the lowest in the world at 9% for businesses and the Emirates has a 5% of Value added tax (VAT), it is the only major tax you need to be aware of.

The UAE stands in 23rd place as of the best countries to live in. There are many different fields available for entrepreneurs, such as healthcare, hotels, e-commerce, IT, and many more. Furthermore, Dubai’s business economy has a promising future.

If you are curious about how to start a business in Dubai. Following this guide will make it simple to start a company in Dubai UAE.

Jurisdictions For Company Formation in Dubai

When considering jurisdictions for company formation in Dubai, there are several options to choose from, each offering unique advantages. There are three jurisdiction in Dubai. Each have its own rules and regulation to setup a business.

Business setup in Dubai Freezone

Free zones in Dubai are economic zones where foreign investors hold 100% ownership of local businesses. These zones provide for complete repatriation, not having to pay certain taxes, and having easier processes for import & export. There are more than 30 free trade zones in Dubai. Here are a few well-known free zones:

The infrastructure in the free zone is ideal for doing business and they offer many helpful services. In free zones, you may setup a business with  an unlimited number of shareholders without any restriction. 

Business setup in Dubai Mainland

Mainland company formation in Dubai allows you to trade in any market within the UAE. The DED’s job is to help businesses grow by giving them licenses, making sure they follow the rules, approves commercial activity for each license, controls ownership structure, and approving the names of the businesses.

Business setup in Dubai Offshore

Businesses operating globally that value confidentiality and tax advantages will find an offshore company formation in Dubai an excellent choice. A UAE office is a valuable factor for managing international business activities and investments without requiring a permanent presence in the UAE.

How to Start a Business in Dubai – Company Formation Process


1. Business Activity

A wide variety of industries are growing in UAE. Company setup in Dubai has several business and development potentials. Before you start a business in Dubai, we recommend that you decide what kind of business you want to run.

Choose a business formation in Dubai that matches your expertise and market demand. It is essential to have a suitable license from the beginning, as various activities require various permits.

Many Dubai and UAE locales restrict commercial activities. Some free zones encourage particular economic activities, such as the Media, financial, or technology sectors.

Over time, certain free zones have begun to accept general corporate operations. You may desire to locate near other companies in your field, even if the same regulations do not bind you. Consider the ownership, liability, and ease of management before choosing while finalizing the structure.

2. Select Jurisdiction

Once you have chosen a business, you must decide whether to set up a business in a free zone or on the Mainland. There are some advantages to locating in a free zone, such as:

  • Low corporation tax
  • 100% company ownership
  • 100% capital and profit repatriation
  • No currency limits and 100% import/export tax exemption
  • Alternatively, you can trade in the UAE through a mainland corporation that charges

However, you may deal directly with a local and international marketplace if you start up in the Mainland. This ensures that a foreign corporation owner maintains full managerial and financial authority over the organization.

3. Finalize the company name

Pick a specific name for your company that conveys your brand while still meeting the requirements of Dubai naming guidelines. Make sure your company name is legal in UAE due to strict naming rules.

You cannot name your company after political entities like the FBI or Mafia. If you choose to name it after an individual, that person must be the owner or partner of the company.

4. Get approval and complete the incorporation process

Once you have reached this point, you have made the most critical decision about company formation in Dubai. You must complete a company name and activity application and submit it to the authorities with copies of the shareholder’s passport.

To get your business license in Dubai, you first need initial approval from the authorities to show that the UAE government has no objection with your business starting in Dubai.

5. Apply for a business license/Register your company

In Dubai, you can get your licenses and register your company at the same time. Although, there are other steps involved in the approval and documentation as a whole.

Obtaining a necessary permit and license from other government agencies is an essential step of this process, as the Department of Economic Development requires. Depending on your business, you might also need to fill out different forms to make everything official.

The government will issue your business license after reviewing and processing your application. For incorporation in any jurisdiction, the application typically requires a completed form and copies of shareholder passports.

6. Residency/ Applying for a VISA

The next step for business setup in Dubai is to apply for a business VISA. In many Free zones, you can apply VISA for yourself and your dependents.

Before sponsoring a spouse, child, or maid, seek expert advice to confirm the feasibility of your chosen free zone. Ensure both you and the sponsored individual meet all visa requirements.

7. Open a business bank account

Once you have received your completed papers, you will have everything you need to create a business bank account.

In the United Arab Emirates, there are local banks like the Commercial Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD, as well as big international banks like HSBC, Citibank, and Barclays.

Having a business bank account is important when you want to start operating in the UAE. The process of opening a bank account in the UAE might take anything from a few days to a week. 

Frequently asked questions

1. Can A Foreigner Start a Business in Dubai?

Foreigners can start a business in Dubai with various options, such as free zones or the Mainland, offering 100% ownership and operational independence.

2. How Long Does It Take to Start A New Business In Dubai?

The time to start a business in Dubai varies based on factors like the type of setup, activities, structure, and registration process speed. Freezone setups typically progress faster than mainland ones. Business advisors suggest that setting up a business in Dubai could take a few days to a week.

3. Can you own a 100% business in Dubai?

Yes, in Dubai, you can typically have full control of your business. Starting a business in a Dubai with benefits like low corporate taxes, a prime location, and easy incorporation, is often a wise choice for foreigners due to the guaranteed 100% ownership.

4. Can I start a business in Dubai without an office?

Yes, you can start a business in the Dubai free zone without needing an office. 

5. How to set up a company in Dubai?

The initial steps in opening a company in Dubai are selecting the business type, choosing a unique name, obtaining approval, determining company activities for licensing. You then organize your paperwork, register the company in Dubai, and lease office space if needed.


Investors are always welcome to start a business in Dubai. Establish a business in Dubai is an exciting opportunity that calls for thorough planning and execution.

You can confidently start your business journey by acknowledging various types of business structures, the formation procedure, and the required licenses. Dubai’s dynamic economic business environment provides ample opportunities for expansion and success.

If you want to make things faster, you can get help from business setup experts in Dubai. They can give you good advice on decisions, help you get a business license or visa, and set up your company.

Looking for expert advice on starting your own venture?

Get personalized guidance on company setup in Dubai or the UAE from our team of experienced business setup consultants.

Call us at +97145890815 or send us a WhatsApp message at +97145890815.

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RFZ Office Fairmont
Nabiha Arshad
Nabiha Arshad

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