free zones

opening a company in a free zone

free zone company

Free Zones 1

Benefits of a Free Zones

There are 49 Free Zones in the UAE. Each Free Zone is designed around one or more commercial categories and only offers licenses to companies within their specified categories. The key benefits of establishing an entity in one of the UAE’s Free Zones: 

  • 100% ownership of your company
  • No requirement to share 51% of your company with a local sponsor
  • No customs duty for import/export
  • Shareholders and the employees are eligible for getting UAE residency visas
  • 25 years lease options, warehouse facilities, availability of areas for production and assembling
  • Inexpensive workforce and easy recruitment procedure
  • Companies are governed by an independent Free Zone Authority (FZA), which is responsible for issuing operating licenses and regulating the activities of companies within the Free Zone.

In May 2018, the UAE Cabinet approved decision to authorise 100% foreign ownership in the Mainland, so Free Zones in the UAE have been developing a number of novel ideas, reasons and incentives to convince existing firms to continue their operations in the Free Zones as well as attract more firms, officials and analysts.

When it comes to Free Zones, the only drawback for entrepreneurs is that the choice of where to set up can become overwhelming. If you’re struggling to choose which free zone is right for you, we are here to help you out.

Steps to start your business in a FZ

Free Zone authorities have simplified process, require minimum paperwork and less time to open a business. Here are the key steps to set up a business in a Free Zone.

  • Determine the type of legal entity
  • Choose a trade name
  • Apply for a business license
  • Choose an office space
  • Get pre-approvals, register your business and get your license

Depending on the number of shareholders and whether the shareholder is a natural person or a legal person, in a Free Zone, you can set up one of the two types of companies:

  • Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC) or Free Zone Company (FZ Co.)
  • Free Zone Establishment (FZE)

Not all Free Zones might register both types of companies. 

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leading free zones

The leading Free Zones and their license activities include:
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) – Commodities Trade and Exchanges;
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) – Trading, General Trading, Service, Logistics and Industrial;
  • Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – Banking, Financial Services and Legal;
  • Dubai World Central (DWC) – Aviation, Logistics, Light industry and Ancillary Services;
  • Dubai Knowledge Park (DKP) – Human Resources Management, Training and Personal Development;
  • Dubai Internet City (DIC) – Internet and Communications Technology;
  • Dubai Media City (DMC) – Media related activities;
  • Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) – Information Technology, Telecom, Electronic and Engineering
  • Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) – Healthcare, Medical Education and Research, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment;
  • Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) – Trading, General Trading, Service, Industrial and Educational;
  • Fujairah Creative City (FCC) – Media, Consulting, Communications, Design and Technology
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) – Financial Sector, Wealth Management, Asset Management, and Private Banking
  • Sharjah Media City (Shams) – New Media Businesses and Creative Professionals
  • Fujairah Creative City – Media, Advertising and Broadcasting, as well as relevant sub-sectors including HR, e-commerce, IT, Publishing, Training, Consultancy, and Design
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Can Free Zone companies do business in Mainland?

Although there has been confusion regarding the topic, it should be clear that free zone entities are mostly not allowed to operate their businesses in Dubai Mainland. The Department of Economic Development, DED is the only authority that issues licenses to businesses and service providers who want to operate in Dubai Mainland. Only a corporate entity that is licensed by the said authority is allowed to operate in mainland. Violating this law can lead to penalties.

However, the authorities have provided a way to resolve the matter and for free zone entities to operate in mainland. Civil work companies, limited liability companies and branch can conduct business in Dubai. The civil work companies can be owned by foreigners completely, however, a UAE local is required to be appointed in the company.

When choosing a Free Zone for your business, you may consider the following benefits:

  • 0% tax for 50 years
  • A variety of real-estate facilities – from warehouses to serviced offices
  • A vibrant community feel
  • A wealth of hotels and accommodation within the free zone
  • Advanced network of warehouses
  • Incorporation is extremely easy, with minimal paperwork
  • Low cost company set up
  • No deposit is required
  • No proof of share capital required
  • Strong community focus – the free zone aims to build and foster a vibrant community
  • World-class infrastructure
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contact us now to know more

Asad Abbas International  will assist you and guide you through a hassle-free process than you could imagine. We take care from filling up the application forms, submission and collections of payments and required documents on your behalf, up to obtaining your UAE residence visas and bank account.

About AAi



“AAi” is a shortened name for AAZ International Corporate Services, led by Mr. Asad Abbas, Founder and CEO of Asad Abbas & Co. (Chartered Accountants) and supported by highly proficient and experienced team. 


Duly licensed by the Dubai Economic Department with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the firm provides business set-up and company formation services across UAE. Key services include selection of the correct legal form and locality based on business needs, license registration, business advisory, employee visas obtaining, bank account opening, accounting and payroll outsourcing, financial services advisory, budgeting and taxation advice, provision of secretarial and other services.  


AAi mission is to continuously add value to clients by helping them to develop winning strategies and achieve maximum potential in business operations across UAE. By achieving our mission, we contribute to UAE’s economic growth and prosperity. 


The firm has delivered a great number of top-notch projects and assisted thousands of clients during more than 10 years of successful operations. 


Being part of such prominent market players, AAi guarantees excellent client services of the highest quality, provides local expertise and full scope of services vital to achieving outstanding business growth for clients.