Can Foreigners Start A Business In Dubai?

Hamed Ahli

Hamed Ahli

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Dubai has one of the highest percentages of expatriate residents of any place in the world. More than 2m of the emirate’s 3.3m population are workers, investors, and families from overseas.

There are many reasons behind this. For one, the UAE is among the most welcoming countries in the world, with a time-tested immigration process and simple visa application laws. It is also a major business hub, bringing entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe.

Thanks to its 0% tax rate on personal and corporate income, amazing trading location, and open company formation process. So, if you’re looking to start a business in Dubai as a foreigner, keep reading.


Things To Remember As A Foreigner Starting A Business In Dubai, UAE

While starting a business in Dubai as a foreigner can be quick and straightforward, it requires some expert knowledge. So, the first thing to do when starting up out here is to partner with a company formation agent or local free zone

Contact Meydan Free Zone today and start your business in no time

The team at Meydan Free Zone will ensure you are familiar with all local laws and customs and guide you through the company formation process. Here are a few things to keep in mind

Company Names

The company naming procedure in the UAE is a little different from that of many other countries, so you should seek advice before attempting to register your new business.

The UAE has a set of naming parameters to which you’ll need to stick. But don’t worry; all are straightforward and largely common sense.

Essentially, you should avoid blasphemous and offensive language and the names of well-known organisations. We will also cover a few more rules in your initial consultation.

Free Zone Or Mainland

There are two common setups available to foreigners when starting a business in the UAE — the Free Zone and the Mainland.

Mainland Businesses can be established anywhere and trade directly with the local market. Free zone businesses can trade from designated zones and require a local agent to trade directly in the UAE. However, free zones offer incredible benefits such as 100% customs tax exemption, zero currency restrictions, and capital and profit repatriations.

In most cases, free zone company ownership is often more suited to foreign investors

Sponsors And Service Agents

In some cases, you will require the services of a local agent or sponsor when trading in the UAE. The local agent will facilitate trade with the local market if you open a free zone business.

If you open a mainland business, you may require a sponsor who will hold a 51% stake in your business. However, many business activities are now permitted to be wholly undertaken by foreign business owners.

In both cases, the agent or sponsor is paid a fee and has no decision-making power or claim on profits.

Steps To Start A Business As A Foreigner In Dubai

  • Outline Your Business Activities
    First, you must clearly stipulate every business activity you wish to carry out, as these will determine the type of license you require.

    There are thousands of permitted activities in the UAE. You can list multiple activities and add more later.

  • Compile Your Paperwork
    Incomplete and incorrect paperwork is the number one reason for delays and rejection when applying for a business license in Dubai.

    When you work with Meydan Free Zone, we’ll ensure your application is in order before submission, saving you both time and inconvenience. You’ll find a list of required documents below

  • Apply For Your License
    With everything ready and in order, you can now apply for your UAE trade license. The most suitable license type will depend on whether your activities fall into the professional, industrial, commercial or other categories.

    Your Meydan contact will advise on the one you require and assist with your application.

  • Obtaining A Visa
    Meydan Free Zone can help you with your visa application too. As well as submitting documentation, you will need to undergo a fitness test, blood test, and chest x-ray. You can also sponsor the visas of others, such as dependent children and parents, your spouse, and any domestic staff.
  • Opening A Corporate Bank Account
    You’ll need a corporate bank account to operate in the UAE. However, accessing financial products is not always easy for non-GCC citizens.

    When you start your business at Meydan Free Zone, you’ll get access to Meydan Pay – the first and only solution that provides you with an instant and guaranteed IBAN when you receive your business license. So, you can start sending and receiving payments in the UAE straightaway, avoiding lengthy bank account opening procedures


Documents Required To Start A Business In Dubai

If you are starting your UAE business with individual shareholders only, you are required to submit the following documents:

  • Passport copy
  • Passport size photo (digital)
  • Residence visa Copy (if applicable)
  • Emirates ID copy (if applicable)

If you are setting up with corporate shareholders, you will also need to provide the following:

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Certificate of Incumbency or equivalent
  • Memorandum of Association

Cost Of Starting A Business In Dubai As A Foreigner

The cost of obtaining a license in Dubai as a foreigner will depend on several factors, including the size and nature of your business and whether you operate on the mainland or in a free zone.

You can start your business at Meydan Free Zone for only AED 14,350. This package includes one visa and covers you for three licensed activities. For AED 23,600, you can get a UAE trade license and allocation for six visas.

Inquire Now

At Meydan Free Zone, you can start your business from just AED 14,350. This package is inclusive of one visa and covers you for three licensed activities. For AED 23,600, you can get a UAE trade license along with allocation for six visas.

Why Work With Meydan Free Zone

Meydan Free Zone is a thriving, centrally located economic district with one of the most prestigious business addresses in the region.

We offer our businesses a host of innovative investment and lifestyle benefits in a secure, regulated environment that empowers productivity. We make business setup in Dubai easy. When you set up here, you’ll benefit from:

A business presence in the heart of Dubai: You’re never far from the hustle and bustle of the city centre at Meydan Free Zone. Just 15 minutes from the Dubai International Airport and mere minutes from Downtown Dubai.

An empowering environment: Setting up your business in Meydan Free Zone gives you exclusive access to a networking community that inspires growth through innovation and collaboration. Dubai is home to countless start-ups, SMEs, and multinational corporations, making it the perfect city for you to start and grow your business.

A paperless experience: Don’t let red tape hold you back. Our intelligent and intuitive license application kit means you will work with easy-to-use forms that significantly reduce time and effort during the application process. The platform brings together all aspects of compliance and regulation for your businesses (such as UBO, ESR, AML) in a single interface.

Our expert team can assist across all processes involved in business setup in Dubai, from registering your company name to managing your license and visa applications

To find out more, visit our website, or get in touch with us via or 800FZ1.

If you prefer, you can visit us at Meydan Free Zone Business Centre, Mezzanine Floor, Meydan Hotel, Meydan Rd, Nad Al Sheba 1, Dubai, UAE.

Start your business with Meydan Free Zone

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