Without a shadow of a doubt, Dubai is the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE. For the best part of the last two decades investors have flocked into Dubai to achieve their dream firms, as they realize the potential of the city and the future it holds. The city houses the maximum number of free zones in the whole of UAE.
One of the most important considerations while setting up a new company in Dubai is the cost of setting it up. What attracts most to entrepreneurs in setting up a business in Dubai is the direct tax-free nature of its business zones. One can either setup a free zone company in Dubai or an offshore company.
A free zone company is fully owned by the person who sets it up. There is no requirement of an agent or a sponsor to manage or liaison. While starting a company in Dubai in any of its many free zones, it is important to keep in mind that there are different rules and regulations, procedures and fees involved with different free zones. Many of these free zones require the business owners to have a minimum amount of capital if they are setting up a new business in Dubai as compared to just opening a new branch of an existing business or company.
Every business startup takes some effort. From the planning to the implementation to the actual starting date, there are myriad things that have to be accomplished. In some cases, specialists are necessary to walk you through the process and help you to accomplish the small tasks associated with business setup and registration in Dubai.
The basic requirement for all business activity in Dubai is one of the following three categories of licenses:
Commercial licenses covering all kinds of trading activity;
Professional licenses covering professions, services, craftsmen and artisans;
Industrial licenses for establishing industrial or manufacturing activity.
Fifty-one percent participation by UAE nationals is the general requirement for all UAE established companies except:
Where the law requires 100% local ownership
In the Jebel Ali and Airport Free Zones
In activities open to 100% AGCC ownership
Where wholly owned AGCC companies enter into partnership with UAE nationals
In respect of foreign companies registering branches or a representative office in Dubai
In professional or artisan companies where 100% foreign rule.
Legal structures of Business
Federal Law No. 8 of 1984, as amended by Federal Law No. 13 of 1988 – the Commercial Companies Law – and its bylaws govern the operations of foreign business. In broad terms the provisions of these regulations are as follows: The Federal Law stipulates a total local equity of not less than 51% in any commercial company and defines seven categories of business organization which can be established in the UAE.
It sets out the requirements in terms of shareholders, directors, minimum capital levels and incorporation procedures. It further lays down provisions governing conversion, merger and dissolution of companies
Setting up a free zone Establishment
A Free Zone Establishment – or FZE – is an establishment formed and registered within the Free Zones and regulated solely by the Free Zone authorities. Such establishments must have a capital of at least Dh.1 million and liability will be limited to the amount of paid-up capital. A FZE need only have a single shareholder and is an independent legal entity. Any company, organization or individual wishing to form a Free Zone Establishment must submit a completed application to the Free Zone authorities.
A decision on whether permission has been granted will be given within 30 days of receipt of the application and any other information and documentation required. If permission is granted, the authorities will record all relevant details in the FZE Register and issue a Certificate of Formation. This will specify the date of registration after which the FZE will be free to conduct any such business as is permitted in its license.
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