Can a foreigner have a business in Dubai?

The UAE has lately become the hub for foreigner businessmen and investors to launch their business.

Can a foreigner have a business in Dubai?


Dubai is one of the largest places where an international diaspora of entrepreneurs' lives. Every year, we see an increase in the number of foreign investors and businessmen. 

The United Arab Emirates is known to be very attractive in terms of business profit. It has a 0% tax rate and a strategic geolocation.

Can a foreigner start a business in Dubai?

Yes, a foreigner is allowed to start a business in Dubai with 100% ownership of that business. 

As of June 2021, The UAE government has opened the economy further for foreign investors by allowing 100 % ownership in specific industries.


Approved business activities with 100% Foreign Ownership

In Dubai, the new laws will apply to 1061 business activities, out of the total 2300 economic activities provided in the detailed list by the Department of Economic Development (DED). It means that about half of the manufacturing and trading activities are eligible for 100% ownership by foreign nationals. To be eligible, you need to bring in technology, capital, and mandatory employment of the UAE nationals as the new conditions. 

However, in Abu Dhabi, the 51% - 49% shareholding with a UAE Local Sponsor will continue even now. The laws were revised to push the UAE economy, improve ease of doing business and raise the competitiveness of the UAE business community. While Dubai and Abu Dhabi have started their new positions, other emirates are in the process of doing so. 

Why is the role of business consultants becoming more crucial now?

Dubai welcomes business owners from abroad.  Lately, the emirate has become a home to many new business owners.  For that, many consultants specializing in business consultancy in dubai decided to add on more services to help out the newcomers. 

The new laws interpretation and implementation mean existing businesses will need the assistance of the consultants to amend the business structures, documentation, licenses, and tax liabilities. New investors will look to them for providing their expertise in setting up the business under the new laws.      

An existing LLC business in the mainland have to get the amendments done in the following process:

  • Application to the authorities for license amendment.
  • Amendment of Memorandum of Articles (MOA) of the company.
  • Fees for an amendment to be paid to the Department of Economic Development (DED).
  • Approval is required for the new ownership in Mainland Business Setup in Dubai from the Department of Economic Development.

For starting a new 100% ownership business in a Dubai Mainland Company, one needs to choose from the approved list of 1061 business activities. However, if those approved activities fall under the service and professional consultancy sectors, a local national will be required. They will not be shareholders in the company but only be associated as service agents to carry out specific administrative work. 

Starting a new 100% foreign-owned company on the mainland is simple in 6 steps.

  1. Choose the type of business.
  2. Decide the company name.
  3. Complete the documentation for company formation.
  4. Apply for the licenses and get approval from the authorities, including business licenses.
  5. Open a business bank account, allowing 100 % repatriation in foreign currency.
  6. Apply for business Visas and overseas employees Visa

The overall cost of Setting Up Business in Dubai with 100 % foreign-owned business in Mainland Dubai depends on the nature of the business activity, location, and the number of visas required. For service and professional license in mainland company registration, the minimum cost will be approximately 8000 Dirhams while for commercial license it will come to a minimum cost of 14000 dirhams. There will also be additional expenses towards business consultancy fees, visa expenses, office rent, and miscellaneous expenses.  


Starting a business as a foreigner

If you are new to the UAE, you need to be familiar with different business practices and customs. These are serious and mandatory if you are really considering opening a business there. 

If you are not familiar with these, you could seriously be setting yourself up to failure before even starting. This is why it is important to hire a uae consultant with knowledge in obtaining a Business License in UAE and UAE Visa Services


Types of business licenses you can apply for in Dubai.

The most common trade licenses available are: 

-Commercial license: You should apply for it if your company is intended to buy and sell products and/or services
-Industrial: If your business is all about manufacturing goods, then you need to apply for an industrial license.
-Professional: This license is for service providers. Examples include craftsmen services


All these licenses must be obtained from the DED which is the department of economic development. Once you have decided which direction is the most suitable for you, you can start with your application process. 

Even with the recent foreign ownership rules, most foreigners opt for a Free Zone Company Formation in Dubai . A freezone is a more guaranteed area for foreigners to get their ownership approved.
With a free zone company setup, you will still gain the advantage of the zero percent tax. But you will also gain more benefits. Examples include:

  • Currency restrictions
  • Repatriation of profit
  • Customs tax exemption

To begin with your free zone business setup application, all you need is to contact Pro Services in Dubai. You will then provide your agent with all the documents and papers he asks you to provide. They will manage the rest for you. 

The basic documents needed to start a business in Dubai

Companies established in free zones are governed by the rules of the respective free zones. Therefore, the documentation required will depend on the free zone to which you make your application. Required documentation may include:

  • A filled application form with correct data
  • Your detailed business plan
  • Copy of existing trade license and registration certificate
  • Coloured passport copies of the new company’s shareholders
  • Coloured passport copies of the Director of the new company
  • Audited financial reports of the past two years

Please contact your consulting company to get all the necessary documents

We can Help !

Business Consultancy like Absher business Consultancy can play a significant role in setting up a 1005 foreign company in mainland Dubai. Their role will be crucial in the new environment where UAE Allows 100% Foreign Ownership. The 100% ownership of the business in Dubai mainland will benefit all concerned, including government, business consultants, foreign investors, and the local business economy.  

Our services also include the following:
1- Visa company in dubai

2- Trademark registration dubai

3- Business visa in UAE

4- Product Registration in Dubai

5- Offshore Company Formation in UAE

6- Free Zone Company Formation in Dubai

7- Virtual Office Setup in Dubai

8- Best Pro Services in Dubai


Topics that might interest you:
1-Construction companies in dubai: How can I start one?