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Establishing a Company in the United Arab Emirates: A Comprehensive Guide for Foreign Investors and Entities

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2023 | Business, Business and Commercial Law, Dubai |

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), and more specifically Dubai, has rapidly transformed into a global business hub with its strategic location, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and business-friendly policies. For foreign individuals or companies looking to establish a presence in Dubai, there are several key factors to consider, including the choice between free trade zones in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, legal requirements, investor visa options, and the potential assistance by the international law firm Urban Thier & Federer, P.A..

Choosing the Right Location: Dubai or Abu Dhabi Free Trade Zones

One of the first decisions to make when forming a company in the UAE is selecting the right location. Dubai and Abu Dhabi both offer numerous free trade zones that provide a range of incentives, such as tax exemptions, full ownership rights for foreign investors, and streamlined procedures.

The choice between Dubai and Abu Dhabi often depends on the nature of the business and the target market. For example, Dubai’s free trade zones like Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) are known for their diversity and focus on industries like logistics, technology, and commodities. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi’s zones, including Masdar City and Khalifa Industrial Zone, offer advantages in sectors such as renewable energy and heavy industries.

Legal Requirements and Company Formation

The UAE has specific legal requirements for company formation, which may vary based on the chosen business structure, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Free Zone Company, or Branch Office. For most foreign investors, partnering with a local sponsor is mandatory when establishing an LLC.

However, in free trade zones, full foreign ownership is allowed without the need for a local sponsor. Understanding the regulations, licensing procedures, and ownership options is crucial to ensure a smooth company setup process.

Investor Visa Options

Foreign investors looking to operate their business in the UAE can apply for an investor visa, which allows them and their dependents to reside in the country. Different emirates may have varying criteria for obtaining an investor visa, including minimum investment thresholds, business activity requirements, and the number of employees to hire. In Dubai, the investor visa application process typically involves submitting business plans, financial statements, and other relevant documents.

Assistance from Urban Thier & Federer

Urban Thier & Federer, a well-known international law firm with offices in the USA, Europe, and Dubai, can be a valuable partner in the process of establishing a company in the UAE. With their extensive experience in international business law, the firm can provide legal advice, navigate regulatory frameworks, draft necessary documents, and ensure compliance with local laws. Having a reputable law firm by your side can significantly expedite the company formation process and mitigate potential legal risks.

Setting Up Offices in the UAE

For foreign companies expanding into Dubai, setting up local offices is an essential step to establish a physical presence and build relationships with clients and partners. Office space can be secured within the chosen free trade zone or in other commercial areas. Careful consideration of location, size, facilities, and accessibility is crucial to create an environment that supports business growth and success.

Establishing a company in the United Arab Emirates, particularly in Dubai, offers lucrative opportunities for foreign individuals or companies. By evaluating the choice between free trade zones, understanding legal requirements, exploring investor visa options, and potentially seeking assistance from firms like Urban Thier & Federer, foreign entities can navigate the complex process with confidence. With the right strategy and expert guidance, Dubai’s thriving business ecosystem can become the foundation for a successful and prosperous venture.