Market Entry in The UAE

>> Legal Structures & Formalities in The UAE

Companies looking to enter the UAE market have a range of options to build their presence.

Do keep in mind that the only way for a business start-up in UAE to trade without taking a UAE national acting as your partner, is to locate your business in one of the 45 Free Zones. This is not practical for businesses that must be in city markets like restaurants and retail stores. Also businesses that work with the government have to be registered with a local sponsor. The Government are reviewing these onshore arrangements, suffice as to say that if you really want to start a business to maximise the potential of Dubai then you should consider registering a local LLC business.

A UAE national must be taken as a 51% partner who is called a local ‘sponsor’. A local company provides the freedom to locate the business anywhere in the city. For a business startup in Dubai this is a boon because it affords the best choice of locations to suit your budget.

A sponsor must be paid a yearly fee, which can be negotiated. You should develop a rapport with your sponsor, so that he is ready to help you in sorting out any problems you may face along the way with authorities.

Starting a business in the UAE should not take you more than a week, once you’ve sorted all your legal procedures. The official portal is:

Setting up business in the UAE is easier than anywhere else in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena). According to a recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report.

With numerous free zones, excellent infrastructure, no taxes, low import duties and a strategic location, the UAE scores far ahead of its regional neighbours.

The UAE has no income tax and no federal-level corporate tax at the moment – although it is about to implement VAT (Jan 2018) – yet there is a degree of uncertainty as to its effective and practical roll out.

There are different corporate tax rates for certain activities in some emirates. A useful, comprehansive and up to date guide is available at:

The UAE’s currency is pegged to the dollar, giving it minimal control over monetary policy and reducing its ability to tackle inflationary pressure. The country’s location in a volatile region means that its risk profile is, to some extent, affected by events elsewhere. Movement of currency in out of ouf the country is via the major international banks and independent FX traders, such as – who are registered in the DIFC.

But before you start your legal formalities, you need to consider some elements required in the process.

Latest version updated 22nd December 2017

Country Breakdown





United Arab Emirates Dirham


$ 348.7