What is the process of business setup in Dubai?

business setup in Dubai
Setting up a business in Dubai involves a series of well-defined steps, guided by the Emirate’s pro-business legislation and its strategic location as a global business hub. Below is a detailed guide on the process of business setup in Dubai, structured with headings for clarity.

Introduction to Business Setup in Dubai

Dubai, a city-state in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is renowned for its dynamic economy, strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and business-friendly environment. The process of setting up a business here can be straightforward if you are familiar with the local regulations and procedures.

Understanding Dubai’s Business Landscape

  • Free Zones vs. Mainland: Dubai offers two primary business jurisdictions—Free Zones and Mainland. Free Zones are areas with special tax, customs, and import regimes, and are governed by their own set of rules. Mainland businesses are registered under the Dubai Economic Department (DED) and can operate anywhere in the UAE.
  • Types of Businesses: You can set up various types of businesses in Dubai, including Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Sole Establishments, Partnerships, Branch Offices, and Representative Offices.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Location

  • Free Zone: Ideal for companies intending to trade within the free zone or outside the UAE. Benefits include 100% foreign ownership, full repatriation of capital and profits, and no import-export duties.
  • Mainland: Suitable for businesses that plan to trade directly within the local UAE market. A local sponsor (UAE national) is required for certain business types, holding 51% of the shares.

Step 2: Determining the Business Activity

  • Legal Framework: Each business activity has a legal framework you must adhere to. The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai provides a comprehensive list of over 2,000 business activities across various sectors.
  • Licenses: Depending on the nature of the business activity, you will require a Commercial, Industrial, or Professional license.

Step 3: Choosing a Company Name

  • Regulations: Dubai has strict naming conventions. Names should not contain offensive language, religious references, or names of well-known organizations.
  • Registration: The chosen name needs to be registered with the DED. If it’s already taken or violates naming conventions, it will be rejected.

Step 4: Applying for a Business License

  • Documentation: Submit the required documents, including a business plan, passport copies of the shareholders, NOC from the current sponsor if applicable, and the initial approval certificate.
  • Approval: The DED or the respective Free Zone authority will review the application. Upon approval, you will receive your business license.

Step 5: Legal Formalities and Documentation

  • Memorandum of Association (MOA): For LLCs, a MOA with the local sponsor must be drafted and notarized.
  • Registration: Companies must be registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Step 6: Setting Up Your Business Premises

  • Location: Choose a location that aligns with your business needs. Free Zones offer plug-and-play offices, while in the Mainland, you might need to lease or purchase office space.
  • Ejari: For Mainland businesses, register your lease agreement with Ejari to obtain a unique Ejari number, which is essential for the trade license.

Step 7: Obtaining Additional Approvals

Some businesses may require additional approvals from ministries and other authorities. For example, food establishments need approval from the Dubai Municipality’s Food Control Department.

Step 8: Visa Processing

  • Employment Visas: You can sponsor visas for your employees. The number of visas you can sponsor depends on the size of your company, the type of company, and the category of your license.
  • Residence Visa: As a business owner, you are eligible to apply for a UAE residence visa.

Step 9: Opening a Corporate Bank Account

  • Requirements: After obtaining the trade license, you can open a corporate bank account. Different banks have different requirements, so it’s advisable to consult with several banks to find the one that best suits your needs.

Step 10: Commencing Operations

  • Post-Setup Requirements: Depending on your business activity, you may need to obtain additional permits or undergo regular inspections to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.


Setting up a business in Dubai requires careful planning and understanding of the local legal framework. By following the outlined steps and adhering to the Emirate’s regulations, entrepreneurs can establish a successful business in this thriving economic hub. It’s also recommended to seek professional advice or consult with business setup consultants in Dubai to navigate the process smoothly.   click here to visit website

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