It is comparatively easy and quick to set up a company in the UAE even for foreigners as the local government is very supportive encouraging investment and start-ups in many ways, joined with the fact that the government now offers long-term residency visa for prosperous investors in the UAE

In accordance with the gulf news article dated 26th July, 2022 this year 8000 companies set in the first half of the year in the UAE and average number of companies incorporated in the UAE is 15,000 and this year shows growth of 4.3%.

Full foreign ownership

All Free Zones in the United Arab Emirates allow you to maintain 100% full foreign ownership.

Mainland also allows foreigners to establish specific businesses with 100% full ownership, based on the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 26 of 2020 amending the provisions of Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 on Commercial Companies. This means that foreign investors’ shares will not be limited to a maximum of 49% like before, but can be up to 100% instead.

As per the guidelines published by Dubai Economy on its website, 100% foreign ownership is available for more than 1,000 commercial and industrial activities. As a result, the country has become an increasingly popular choice for investment.

Starting a business in UAE involves planning, conceptualizing, research, budgeting, set-up, and decision-making among other things. As a business owner, one would want to make sure to have covered all your legal bases to avoid any fines, lawsuits, and other formalities.

With many years’ experiences in the field business consultancy, below are some important things that we believe you need to consider to start a business in the United Arab Emirates.




When selecting a business activity for your new venture, you have to choose the preset activities from the authorities’ approved list to the best to meet your business. The practicality of the chosen activity in relation to the UAE market is a must.


You must consider your company’s financial requirements, risk, and ability to grow before choosing a legal structure. Choosing the wrong legal structure may affect your business operations, so give it careful thought. Also changing the structure later will lead to unexpected cost which can be avoided with the right consultant assistance.

Here are top legal structures permitted:

• Sole Establishment – Only a single individual can be the owner. Unlimited liability.

• Limited Liability Company – as the name suggests, the liability of owners or shareholders towards the company is limited to the extent of capital they have invested in the entity.

• Limited liability company Single owner – Unlike a sole establishment, the liability is limited to the shares held by the owner.

• Civil Company – owned by recognized professionals such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. a local service agent must be appointed if the company doesn’t have UAE or GCC nationals as partners.


Each economic zone has its own set of laws and regulations pertaining to business setup. The market is divided into different economic zones – Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore.

Selecting an economic zone for business depends on requirements and business activity

Crevaty/Two types of Trade Licenses
Dubai mainland, Two types of Trade Licenses

Normal License: It requires the existence of a Memorandum of Association and a site lease contract.

Instant License: It is issued for a group of activities that do not need external approvals with the option to issue a memorandum of association and a virtual site for the first year.

Free Zones offer built infrastructure, attractive networking opportunities, flexible office solutions, and streamlined immigration procedures.


One can apply for any of these trade licenses if you plan to start a business in UAE mainland. The licensing structure in UAE free zones is different and is dependent on the business activity company decides to proceed. The three major trade licenses are commercial, industrial and professional. However, there are more trade licenses issued, also called business licenses:

• Commercial License for general trading businesses.
• Professional License for service-related businesses.
• Industrial License for manufacturing goods.


Company registration and licensing are simultaneous process. In this step, one will have to get all the approvals from relevant government authorities as requested. One thing needed to be understood is that entire process of documentation and approvals go through various stages. The documents required are different for each company type and activity.


We, Crevaty, from experience and expertise believe that we are best positioned to assist you to structure your businesses in the region and efficiently support compliances and controversies. We would, therefore, be pleased to assist you with your concerns/questions about the company formation in the UAE and support you from this early stage.

Please contact our business incorporation team for any further information or discuss the way we could assist you.


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