Setting up a business in mainland Dubai is is not a complicated process, although you do need to make sure you have all the necessary documentation in place and understand the licensing requirements. The two most common types of license issued to foreign individuals by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) are Professional and Commercial licenses.
A Professional License is suitable for individuals providing professional services such as consultancy or training. There may be one or more individual shareholder, and documented qualification in the field is required. These licenses can be fully owned by foreigners, although a Local Service Agent (LSA) must be appointed. The LSA has no shareholding and is paid an agreed annual fee to provide the necessary services at the various ministries and government departments involved. There are sometimes additional requirements if the license activity requires approval by an external authority.
In general, the steps involved in setting up a Professional License are trade name approval, initial approval, appointment of the LSA and notarization of contract, rental of approved commercial premises, followed by license issuance. The qualification document, usually a university degree, must be attested by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If any of the shareholders already have a UAE residence visa they will require a No-Objection Certificate from their current sponsor. The entire process can usually be completed within one working week.
A Commercial License is suitable for individuals or corporates providing commercial services such as trading or contracting in Dubai. As with the Professional License there can be one or more individual shareholder although there may also be corporate shareholders in such a license. The UAE Companies Law currently requires that at least 51% of the shares in a Commercial License be held by a UAE National individual or entity. Foreigners can own up to 49% of the shares in the Limited Liability Company. There are often agreements in place the effectively give full ownership and control to the foreign shareholder(s). Again, there may be additional requirements if external authorities (eg. Dubai Municipality) are involved.
The steps involved in setting up a Commercial License are trade name approval, initial approval, notarization of the Memorandum of Understanding between the partners, rental of approved commercial premises, followed by license issuance. If any of the shareholders already have a UAE residence visa they will require a No-Objection Certificate from their current sponsor. If there is a corporate shareholder, original certificate of incorporation, articles of association, board resolution, and power of attorney must be attested by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The entire process can usually be completed within one or two working weeks.
It is best to let a professional determine the best licensing option for your business. You can also take advantage of serviced office facilities to minimize your onshore office costs and better manage your cash flow. The team at Sentinel Business Centres offers a number of different options designed to suit all types of businesses. They look after the entire business setup process on your behalf, and provide serviced offices and co-working space suitable for mainland Dubai licensing requirements as well as ongoing support to your business.
Contact Sentinel Business Centres for more information.