Setting Up a Company in the UAE

The UAE, one of the world’s fastest-growing business destinations, attracts entrepreneurs with its strategic location and state-of-the-art infrastructure.


The United Arab Emirates, with over 9.5 million people, consists of seven emirates, with Abu Dhabi leading the oil industry. Despite its traditional values, the UAE embraces multiculturalism, with a large expat community from over 200 countries.

UAE Country Overview

The UAE Government promotes business through innovative services like the Bashr platform, facilitating online company setup. With the Abu Dhabi Business Centre, you can instantly obtain a UAE company license online, eliminating the need for in-person visits.

Starting a Company in the UAE

It’s important to remember that by opening a business in the UAE, you’re opening the door to acquiring a UAE residence visa. But navigating the new tax rules to achieve zero-tax status or gain a residence permit can be challenging.

Explore the essential steps and requirements for setting up a company in the UAE.

Requirements for Opening a Company in the UAE

The UAE's tax landscape has evolved, with the introduction of a 5% value-added tax and a 9% tax for certain corporations.

Opening a Business in the UAE

Initially, it was indicated that the 9% corporate tax would mainly affect onshore companies, while free-zone entities would largely remain tax-exempt. However, recent clarifications reveal a more intricate set of criteria, impacting some free-zone companies with the 9% tax rate.

Opening a Business in the UAE: FAQs


It depends. Businesses in the UAE now face a standard 9% tax rate based on their taxable income that exceeds AED375,000 (approximately US$100,000). However, a UAE free-zone company can still achieve a tax rate of zero by meeting certain conditions.

Is the UAE tax-free for companies?

Yes. Many foreigners choose to start businesses in Dubai and expats make up over 80% of the population. In fact, Dubai actively encourages expat investors and business owners from overseas to set up in the city.

Can a foreigner start a company in the UAE?

Previously, UAE companies needed at least 51% of shareholders to be local residents, but now 100% can be foreign. Yet, a registered office in the UAE is still mandatory.

Do I need to live in the UAE to start a business there?

The Department of Economic Development offers six types of trade licences: industrial, commercial, crafts, tourism, agricultural and professional.

How many types of trade licences are there in the UAE?

Budget between AED20,000 and 30,000 (approx. US$5,450–8,200) for UAE company formation. Additional requirements like a foreign trade name or approvals can escalate costs.

How much does it cost to start a business in Dubai?

Starting a business in Dubai is relatively straightforward. The city is one of the world’s top startup locations. Its business-friendly culture and attitude to innovation are the driving forces behind Dubai’s success in attracting entrepreneurs.

Is Dubai a good place to start a business?

Navigating the UAE's tax system can be complex, potentially making Dubai unsuitable for some. Establishing a tax-efficient presence in the UAE requires meeting specific criteria and maintaining a physical presence.


Our experienced team can help you legally reduce your tax rate offshore, protect your assets, invest overseas, obtain a second citizenship, and improve your peace of mind. We’ve helped 1,500+ HNWI entrepreneurs and investors and we can help you, too.

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