The Different Types of Company Setups in Dubai 1

The Different Types of Company Setups in Dubai

1. Free Trade Zones

In recent years, Dubai has become a vibrant business hub attracting entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe. One of the key factors contributing to its appeal is the various types of company setups available in the city. One such setup is the establishment of companies in the free trade zones.

The Different Types of Company Setups in Dubai 2

The free trade zones in Dubai, also known as Free Zones, are designated areas that offer numerous benefits to foreign businesses. These zones are designed to attract foreign investment by providing tax exemptions, 100% repatriation of profits, and full ownership rights to foreign investors.

  • Companies operating in these zones enjoy zero or reduced customs duties on imports and exports, making them an attractive option for businesses involved in international trade.
  • Free Zones also offer a wide range of business activities, including logistics, e-commerce, manufacturing, media, and technology, among others.
  • The most popular free zones in Dubai include Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), among others. Each free zone specializes in specific industries and provides tailored services and facilities to companies operating within its jurisdiction.

    2. Mainland Companies

    While free trade zones offer numerous advantages, some businesses may prefer to establish themselves in the mainland areas of Dubai. These mainland companies are governed by the Dubai Economic Department (DED) and operate within the local market.

    Establishing a mainland company allows businesses to operate anywhere in Dubai, as opposed to being confined to a specific free zone. Additionally, mainland companies have the advantage of tapping into the local market and serving the growing population of Dubai.

  • Mainland companies have no restrictions on the number of visas and work permits they can obtain for their employees, making it easier to hire both local and international talent.
  • Unlike free zone companies, mainland companies can conduct business directly with the local market, without the need for a local sponsor or agent.
  • However, mainland companies are subject to local ownership requirements, whereby a minimum of 51% ownership must be held by a UAE national or a company wholly owned by UAE nationals. This requirement can be fulfilled through various legal structures, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Professional Service License.

    3. Offshore Companies

    In addition to free trade zones and mainland companies, Dubai also offers offshore company setups. Offshore companies are ideal for businesses seeking a tax-efficient and confidential structure.

    An offshore company in Dubai is established in one of the many offshore jurisdictions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), such as the Jebel Ali Free Zone Offshore Companies (JAFZA Offshore).

  • Offshore companies enjoy 100% foreign ownership and are exempt from corporate and personal income taxes, making them highly attractive for individuals and businesses.
  • These companies are allowed to hold assets in the UAE, including owning properties, yachts, and aircraft, expanding investment opportunities.
  • While offshore companies cannot conduct business activities in the UAE, they can own shares in local companies and hold investments in real estate and other assets worldwide.

    4. Virtual Companies

    In the digital age, virtual companies have become increasingly popular, allowing entrepreneurs to establish businesses without the need for physical office space.

    Dubai offers the option to register virtual companies, which operate primarily online. These companies can conduct business activities from anywhere in the world, using Dubai as their base.

  • Virtual companies benefit from the reputation and credibility associated with having a company registered in Dubai, without the traditional overhead costs of maintaining a physical presence.
  • They can access Dubai’s extensive infrastructure, resources, and business networks to develop their operations and connect with customers and partners globally.
  • Virtual companies are subject to specific regulations and may require a local agent to represent them in Dubai.


    Dubai offers a diverse range of company setups, allowing entrepreneurs and investors to choose the most suitable option for their business needs. Whether it’s the tax advantages of free zones, the flexibility of mainland companies, the confidentiality of offshore companies, or the convenience of virtual companies, Dubai provides a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

    With its strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and pro-business policies, Dubai continues to be an attractive destination for companies looking to establish a presence in the Middle East and tap into the growing opportunities in the region. Want to dive deeper into the topic? setup a company in Dubai, external material we’ve put together for you.

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