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Starting A Business In Dubai As A Foreigner: A Comprehensive Guide For 2023

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Dubai has become increasingly attractive to foreign investors, as the emirate has made doing business in the UAE more accessible than ever. Entrepreneurs can start a business in Dubai as a foreigner and benefit from the UAE’s attractive offer of 0% tax rates on personal and corporate income. Moreover, recent updates permit foreign business owners to possess 100% ownership of their companies in most cases. Recent changes include the long-term visa, enabling foreigners to live in the UAE for extended periods and potentially retire at the end of their professional careers.

Dubai is a top global business hub that’s ideal for foreign entrepreneurs. Foreigners can start and run a business anywhere in the UAE with proper support. This guide covers key info on starting a business in Dubai as a foreigner.

Can A Foreigner Start A Business In Dubai?

Can A Foreigner Start A Business In Dubai

Can A Foreigner Start A Business In Dubai

Yes, in most cases, you are allowed to start a business in the UAE as a foreigner, but there may be specific conditions based on the type of business you want to establish, your nationality, and the country where you pay taxes. You may need to partner with a local sponsor with a 51% ownership stake in your business, but they will not be involved in making decisions and will receive a predetermined fee for their services. As a non-resident, you can benefit from the UAE’s zero percent corporate income tax rate, but it depends on your country of tax residence whether you can take advantage of this rate for your income. The GAL can provide further guidance after a brief consultation.

How To Start A Business In Dubai As A Foreigner Or Non-Resident

Step 1 – Work With Experts

Setting up a business in Dubai may seem simple, but it can involve some administrative work, especially if you don’t reside in the region. To ensure everything is done correctly, it’s advisable to enlist the help of a local expert like GAL. We will ensure that all your documents are precise and in order before proceeding with your application, saving you time and hassle.

Step 2 – Choose Your Business

The nature of your business activities will determine the most suitable setup and license type. You will need an industrial license if your business involves industrial or manufacturing activities. On the other hand, if your business operations include buying and selling goods, you will require commercial approval.

Step 3 – Choose Your Location

The GAL team can guide your business to the ideal location, whether in a free zone or on the mainland. However, the decision is not straightforward and will be based on your specific situation and the nature of your business.

Step 4 – Choose A Business Name

When naming a company in Dubai, specific naming conventions must be followed. It is important to avoid offensive or blasphemous language and avoid using names of well-known organizations or abbreviations. If naming the company after yourself, it is best to use your full name rather than just initials (e.g., Dave Mann Consulting instead of D Mann Consulting). GAL can assist in checking if the chosen name is available before registering.

Step 5 – Obtain Your License

The next crucial step is to apply for your trade license. To set up your business on the mainland, you must apply to the appropriate body, such as the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED). However, you can apply directly to the managing authority in a free zone.

Documents Required To Start A Business In Dubai

Documents Required To Start A Business In Dubai

Documents Required To Start A Business In Dubai

When establishing a business in a free zone or on the mainland, you typically need to provide the following documents:

  1. Passport Copy:  copy of the passport for each shareholder of the business.
  2. Visa Copy: Visa copies are required from individuals who are not residents of the UAE.
  3. Business Plan:  a clear plan stating goals, tactics, and financial forecasts.
  4. Letter of Intent from Local Sponsor: In some cases, mainland licenses may be required
  5. Certificate of Good Conduct: Shows a clear record with no criminal history.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your business activities and other factors.

Cost Of Starting A Business In Dubai As A Foreigner

To give you an idea, a license package at Fujairah Creative City costs AED 24,775, which includes a visa application and access to the free zone’s co-working facility. However, due to various factors involved, determining the exact cost of starting a business can take time. To get a more accurate estimate, it’s best to speak with the team at GAL and provide them with your specific requirements. They can then offer a personalized and detailed quotation for your UAE company registration.

Advantages of Starting a Business in Dubai As a foreigner

Dubai is a land of many business opportunities for non-residents and foreigners worldwide. Entrepreneurs choose this gem of the Gulf to benefit from its thriving economy for numerous reasons. Some of these reasons are listed below.

  1. Extremely diverse Economy: The economy in Dubai is diverse and rapidly expanding, which offers a stable environment for business development.
  2. Tax Efficiency: The United Arab Emirates has a tax system that promotes competitiveness by imposing low-income tax and exempting free zone companies from VAT.
  3. Strategic Zone: Dubai’s strategic location allows easy access to rapidly growing markets in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
  4. Elite Amenities: The infrastructure, healthcare, and public spaces in Dubai are of the highest quality, contributing to a flourishing and luxurious life for residents and visitors.
  5. Safety & security: Dubai’s reputation as a secure destination is due to its safety record and strong law enforcement.
  6. 100% Foreign Ownership: Dubai permits foreign nationals to own companies in Freezone fully.
  7. Business-Friendly Government: The government of Dubai fosters a conducive business environment by providing incentives for foreign investments.


Hopefully, this guide has clarified that setting up a business as a foreigner or non-resident can be straightforward with the right knowledge. However, it does require some prior understanding of the process. It’s important to note that a smooth application process requires an error-free and complete license application at the time of submission. To ensure this, it’s advisable to work with a Dubai business setup specialist, such as GAL, when establishing a new company in the UAE.

We are a team of professionals passionate about helping entrepreneurs and SMEs realize their dreams through company registration.

GAL can assist you with your license application, opening corporate bank accounts, and providing advice on the most suitable financial institution for your specific needs. We offer visa and immigration services as well and can handle all government formalities, work permits, permissions, and visa applications necessary to trade in the UAE. Our team of experts can establish your company on your behalf, handle your license and visa applications, and manage all the required administrative tasks. This will leave you free to focus on running your business.

Frequently Asked Questions  (FAQ’s)

Can I start a business in Dubai without requiring a sponsor?

Foreign investors need a local sponsor for their business in the UAE mainland with at least 51% shares. Not required in free trade zones.

Is it possible to start a business in Dubai without an office?

Entrepreneurs can set up companies in UAE’s Free Zones without requiring office space by obtaining freelancing permits and up to six visa quota companies. Numerous business activities are available for investors, making it feasible to launch a business in Dubai without an office space.

What is the typical income for business owners in Dubai?

In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Entrepreneurs earn an average monthly salary of AED 92,000. Additionally, the average cash compensation for Entrepreneurs in Dubai is AED 72,000. This additional compensation typically falls within AED 72,000 – AED 72,000.

Is it easy to start a business in Dubai as a non-resident?

Dubai is a great place for non-native entrepreneurs looking to start a business with low taxes and no restrictions on foreign ownership.

What are the advantages of establishing a business in a Dubai-free zone?

Dubai free zones offer complete foreign ownership, no corporate income tax, repatriation of all profits and capital, and simplified import/export procedures. They also have advanced infrastructure, easy registration, and access to a skilled workforce, making them ideal for international business owners.

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