Free Zone Business Setup - Basic Requirements.

UAE Business Setup - If you are planning to setup a business in Dubai, there are two options.

Option 1. Setup your business in Dubai mainland.

Option 2. Setup your business in any of the Free Zones in Dubai.

Most of the business activities except some professional activities in mainland require 51% ownership participation of a UAE National. If you are planning to carry on specified professional activities, ownership participation of UAE National is not mandatory. Foreign investors are allowed to hold 100% ownership in such professional entities.

Many of the foreign investors prefer to hold 100% ownership in their business. This ownership preference attracts expatriate entrepreneurs to Dubai Free Zones which offer 100% ownership. As a prospective investor, you may be eager to know more about requirements associated with setting up a company in Dubai Free Zones.

This write-up is intended to give a broad idea about the basic requirements to setup your business in a Free Zone in Dubai. The requirements mentioned here are generally applicable for all Free Zones in Dubai. A particular Free Zone may have some additional requirements.

Following are the basic requirements for setting up your business in a Free Zone in Dubai:

Business License

In order to carry on any business in a Free Zone, you must obtain a business license issued by the Free Zone Authority. The business license may be Professional / Commercial / Industrial depending on the activity of your proposed business. The validity of a business license is one year, which needs to be renewed every year.

Office in Free Zone

You must have an office in the Free Zone. Most of the Free Zones offer fully equipped office space ranging from hot desks to executive offices. Pre-built showrooms and warehouses are also available for lease. The lease agreement should be renewed every year. Many Free Zones offer land on lease to construct buildings according to your requirements.

Shareholders or Owners

At least one shareholder / owner is required to setup a business entity in Free Zone. If one shareholder owns the company, it will be registered as a Free Zone Establishment.

Share Capital

The company must have minimum share capital stipulated by the respective Free Zone Authority. Certain Free Zones may require proof of depositing share capital in your company’s bank account.


A Free Zone company must appoint a Manager who will represent the company for all administrative, and legal purposes.

Note: A business entity in Free Zone is not permitted to directly operate in the local market (mainland). A Free Zone company can do business in mainland only through a local distributor or agent licensed to operate in the mainland.

Mr. Baiju Masoodu is a Free Zone Business Setup Consultant. Our ‘corporate service firm’ can advise and assist you to set-up a business in Dubai and UAE Free Zones. For a free consultation & cost estimate, call me on: +971 50 214 1476 or mail me at:

© 2016 Baiju Masoodu - Business & Finance Consultant. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy & Terms of Use | Sitemap