Business Set Up In Dubai | Mainland Business Set Up | Freezone Business

October 27, 2021by Mohammed Rahali



Dubai serves as a global commercial hub for businesses owing to its strategic location and well-established trade with East and West covering a market base of 2.2 billion consumers. Coupled with this, its excellent infrastructure, diverse pool of talented workforce from around the world, pro-business policies initiated by the government along with the support of Department of Economic Development (DED) which facilitates easy setup of new businesses and stable economic landscape makes it an ideal hub for entrepreneurs. Moreover, existence of seaport, airport and other transport networks augurs well for logistics and trade. Business operating in import, export, tourism, and logistics can flourish successfully within the region.


Advantages of Setting up a Mainland Business in Dubai

  • Mainland Companies in Dubai are exempt from corporate tax.
  • Company formation in UAE mainland does not have a minimum capital requirement.
  • Free zone companies are allowed only to function within their respective free trade zones while onshore companies can engage in trade with other onshore companies in Dubai or UAE.
  • Mainland companies are not confined to any particular business activity. Free zone entities are required to adhere to business activity of the particular free zone. For example, companies operating in Dubai Media City must render media related services. Similarly, Dubai Healthcare City largely comprises Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. However, no such limitation exists for mainland business as it allows companies across professional, commercial and industrial sectors to operate within its premises.
  • Mainland businesses can choose their office location anywhere in Dubai. This feature allows them not only to trade within local market but also expand internationally.
  • Mainland companies are allowed to take on governmental work unlike free zone companies which are prohibited from undertaking government contracts and are only allowed to carry out private commercial work.
  • There is no limitation on the number of visas on mainland license. It is dependent upon size of office space.
  • There are no currency controls for mainland business in Dubai.
  • Businesses are entitled to full repatriation of capital and profits.
  • Registration process for mainland companies is simple and straightforward. There is no yearly audit requirement.


Company formation in the UAE Mainland requires one to register the business entity with the UAE DED (Department of Economic Development), which then initiates a business license to pursue business in the region. All mainland business activities in the UAE are to be covered under one of the following licenses.

  1. Commercial licences cover all sorts of trading activities.
  2. Industrial licences includes industrial or manufacturing activities.
  3. Professional licences for professional service such as Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer etc.


Some professional activities are excluded as per DED’s business regulations while certain types of commercial activities are reserved exclusively for UAE nationals or entities wholly owned by UAE nationals, such as the activity of commercial agencies and the supply of labor. (Baker McKenzie, 2017)


Popular Mainland Activities in the UAE

Activity Name Description
Gym Gyms and health clubs are formed as either professional licences or LLCs.
Hospitality Hospitality licenses cover food and beverage activities such as cafes, bars and restaurants.
Import-Export These licenses enable you to trade freely with mainland clients without having to use distributors.
Retail Retail licenses cover shops in malls and other outlets and include everything from clothing to books stores.
Event and Entertainment Licenses include event management and event planning for private and public events.
Manufacturing Manufacturing licenses cover the manufacture of goods in the UAE for distribution locally and globally
Healthcare Healthcare licenses require special approval from the Dubai Heath Authority.


For Support and assistance on any of these matters Get in Touch with our Corporate Team Today 

Wincore specializes in Tax, Corporate and Fiduciary matters. We provide pragmatic, flexible and efficient solutions to individual entrepreneurs, startup businesses, foreign and local SMEs, multinationals, wealthy international families, HNWIs and UHNWIs.

Wincore Advisory Group’s full range of services on : CRS (AEOI) – OECD exchange of information ; Economic Substance Regulations; Trust & Foundation; Asset protection, Estate & Tax Planning; Corporate Services; Sophisticated UAE Sponsorship Planning; Debt Collection Services in UAE; Residency & Citizenship Services ( Foreign second passports).



Mohammed Rahali

Managing Partner

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