There are very few things on Earth that are as immediately striking as the city skyline of Dubai. From the beautiful blue waters of the gulf to the sparkling tower of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the city has developed an aesthetic that is envied by every major city in the world.
But this bustling city wasn’t always the metropolitan hub we all know and love today. Dubai was initially established as a small fishing village in the 18th century due to its prime location along the gulf and quickly grew into an enormous metropolitan city that now functions as one of the largest central business hubs in the world.
Now, Dubai growing to become an epicenter for businesses isn’t a mere coincidence! The unique combination of prime geographical location and the establishment of tax-free trade zones greatly impacted bringing in foreign investors and companies.
The business culture in the UAE is primarily family-based, with a healthier work-life balance than most societies. Companies based in Dubai and the UAE provide many progressive social services, including benefits, pensions, and health insurance packages for employees. If tax incentives persuade companies to take up residence in Dubai, the comprehensive benefits for workers bring in employees!
These progressive policies have created an excellent business environment that draws in more and more professionals each year.
There’s a Reason Dubai is Known as the City of Opportunity
Dubai became the heart of progressive business development by creating a unique operational model known as ‘free zones.’ These districts facilitate growth by giving businesses operating within them exemption from all types of taxation. Loosened regulations also help growth, including rules allowing 100% foreign ownership and 100% repatriation of capital and profits. The combination of eased business regulations and lack of income-tax, corporate, and VAT taxes continue to draw global attention from entrepreneurs seeking to maximize efficiency and profits while minimizing operational costs.
Free Zones in Dubai
Now that we know what a free zone is, we should learn about the different types! There are more than thirty different zones spread across the UAE, but for clarity, these trade districts are divided up into three major categories. These categories are:
1. Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA)
The DCCA maintains the development of knowledge and creative-based industries in Dubai. This sector houses the following:
- Dubai Internet City
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Production City
- Dubai Outsource City
- Dubai Studio City
- Dubai’s Knowledge Park
- Dubai International Academic City
- Dubai Design District (d3)
- Dubai Science Park
2. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority (DMCC)
A free zone established in 2002 to provide the physical, financial and market infrastructure to establish a global trade hub.
3. Other Free Zones
In addition to the previously mentioned free zones, there is a large assortment of other various free trade districts that handle various industries, ranging from precious metals to healthcare and humanitarian sectors. Here is a list of these free zones:
- Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority
- Dubai Healthcare City Authority
- Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)
- International Humanitarian City
- Dubai World Trade Centre
- Gold and Diamond Park
- Dubai International Financial Centre
- Dubai South
- National Industries Park (TechnoPark)
- Dubai Maritime City Authority
- Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)
Licenses Issued in Dubai’s Free Zones
In the UAE, free zone licensing is issued based on whatever business activity an entity hopes to enter. The Free Zone Authority (FZA) is the presiding body over free zone business entities and dictates licenses for operation. Commercial laws and regulations that govern the remainder of the UAE do not apply to companies that operate within these free zones.
There are a few different license types that the FZA issues:
1. Trade License
A trade license typically covers companies that handle imports and exports while being legally incorporated outside the borders of the UAE.
2. Industrial License
This license is dedicated to companies that operate in importing raw materials, manufacturing, production, or industry-related fields.
3. Service License
A service license allows the business owner to carry out service-based business. Some of these services include banking, consulting, and contracting.
4. National Industry License
This license gives industrial manufacturers the same status as a local company in the UAE.
The Cost of Licenses in Dubai’s Free Zones
Procuring a business license typically takes a few days for processing. It will include several up-front costs like license fees, visa charges, registration fees, and other similar expenses dictated by FZA. Each free zone also has its variable costs and regulations, and as such, you will want to research each sector and its requirements. Most licensing is valid for three years.
The Process of Setting Up a Business in Dubai’s Free Zones
• Determining Business Type
Before you begin the company setup process, you will need to determine what type of business you wish to conduct. This business type could range from a service-based business to industrial manufacturing.
• Choosing a Trade Name
At this point, you will want to choose a business or trade name that isn’t claimed, as well as one that doesn’t violate federal or regional laws.
• Business Licensing
After you’ve picked out your sector and business name, you’ll want to gather all necessary documentation and submit them to the governing authority.
• Office Spaces
One of the most important aspects of doing business in the free zones are choosing your office spaces. Here, you can select various types of offices that suit your business needs. These can range from full physical office spaces to virtual office environments.
Pre-Approvals, Registering Your Business, and Licensing
It should only take a few days to receive your pre-approval after submitting your application. After you’ve obtained the pre-approval notice, you can register your business and receive your operating license!
The Future of Free Zone Companies in Dubai
Free Zones located in the UAE has grown tremendously in recent years and account for 8% of the total number of businesses in the UAE. These numbers only seem to be growing year after year, with over 60,600 companies registered in free zones and an increase of 4.4% in the total number of companies annually.
MSZ Specializes in Dubai Free Zone Licensing
Dubai’s free zones offer excellent incentives for businesses wanting to enter the UAE global market. Combined with loosened regulations and no taxation, operating in one of these sectors provides a cost-effective solution for companies seeking to join the marketplace. These incentives are steadily drawing investors, shareholders, and businesses to the region. And with an annual expansion rate of 4.4%, the future of industry in Dubai is especially bright.
And that’s where we come in! MSZ Consultancy has decades of experience helping clients navigate the red tape of business operations in the Emirates. International business can be a complicated system, but MSZ excels at simplifying the process!
Regardless of what type of business sector you want to enter, our specialists can help! We proudly serve clients in sectors such as:
– Real Estate
Choose MSZ Consultancy! We’ve skillfully served thousands of customers around the world, and we aim to be a one-stop-shop for all your corporate business needs. Are you applying for a new business license in one of Dubai’s famous free zones? We’ll help! Local Sponsorships? We handle it! Are you applying for a visa? We can help! Company registrations? Not a problem, because we specialize in it all!
Contact us today at [msz_phone-link], and let our knowledgeable experts help you and your business!