To set up a company in Dubai, businesses need to get a ‘trade’ license, which is procured from various agencies and government ministries depending on the category of business.
Business Licensing in Dubai has 3 categories: Commercial, Industrial and Professional.
- Commercial License is issued to a company that engages in any kind of trading activity.
- Industrial License is issued to a company that dabbles in any manufacturing or industrial activity.
- Professional License is issued to service providers, professionals, artisans, and craftsmen.
If the business is financial in nature, such as a Bank or financial institutions, then it must obtain the approval of the UAE Central Bank. Manufacturing companies need to obtain the approval of the Finance and Industry Ministry. For insurance and other relevant sectors, firms must have the approval of the Economy and Commerce Ministry. Medical and pharmaceutical products have to get approved by the Health Ministry. For companies engaged in gas or oil production, additional endorsements and approvals from other government agencies may be needed.
Also, for company setup in Dubai, entrepreneurs must also have the approval of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In UAE, the law is that all new companies setting up in Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE, except those that require a professional license, are required to have minimum fifty-one percent (51%) shareholding by UAE nationals. However, a business does not need to fulfill the above condition, if it satisfies any of the following conditions:
- The company is established at any of the Free Zones in Dubai.
- In cases where the law requires 100% local ownership.
- Where a company wholly owned by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) enters into a partnership with another company wholly owned by UAE nationals.
- In artisan or professional companies in which total foreign ownership is allowed.
- In the case of a foreign entity registering a representative or branch office in the UAE.
- In the case where a professional license is being applied for such professions such as architect, doctor, artist etc. Foreign ownership can be 100%. However a local national must be taken as ‘service agent’.
Setting up a company in UAE is much easier than before, thanks to both governments simplifying the procedure to attract foreign investment and companies providing the same services so that new companies don’t have to go through the whole process.