In the last two decades or more, UAE has emerged as the number one business destination in the Middle East, for foreign companies. The tax-free regime and the business-friendly policies of the rulers have brought multinationals and SMEs across industry verticals to the country in large numbers. This has created a cosmopolitan lifestyle in cities such as Dubai, which boasts of world-class shopping malls, hospitals, schools and residential complexes. Interestingly, most of the population speaks English making communication seamless across the country.

If you are a foreign enterprise looking to start operations in UAE, you can setup the company as a ‘Mainland company’, a ‘Free-zone company’ or an ‘Offshore company’.

A MAINLAND COMPANY is allowed to run its business and trade freely both inside and outside the UAE without any restriction. Other advantages of being a mainland company is that you can conduct a wide range of business activities and can choose an office premises anywhere in Dubai.

Setting up a mainland company is governed by a Govt. agency called the Department of Economic Development (DED), and involves certain steps as outlined below:

  1. Choosing the Business Activity
    The DED maintains a roster of business types or business activities and it’s important you carefully choose your business activity that best matches one from the list. Generally, Services or Consultancy businesses would be granted a “Professional License’ while businesses dealing with goods or industrial activity are granted ‘Commercial License’.
  2. Deciding the partners and legal structure
    This concerns who the partners are, and what their shareholding pattern is.
  3. Reserving a name for your company
    A name must be suggested and reserved for the company, which will be valid for 6 months initially. However, if the DED finds a similar name in existence, it has the right to cancel or amend the reserved name.
  4. Initial Approval
    An Initial Approval certificate that records the type of business, partners, activities etc. is granted by the DED indicating that the Govt. has no objection to your operating the company in UAE as per the proposal submitted by you.
  5. Preparing the Memorandum of Association (MOA)
    We will help you draft a MOA which must be signed by all the partners. Some businesses require a UAE national to be involved, and represent your company on licensing and compliance matters with the Govt. In such a case, you must sign a Local Service Agent (LSA) agreement with him/her.
  6. Renting Office space
    All Dubai-based businesses must have a physical location or address. We will draft the tenancy agreement with the landlord and have it registered by an ‘Ejari’. You can also attach a trade license to the same location, with certain restrictions.
  7. Paying for the License
    You will be issued a payment voucher and must pay for the license within 30 days of receiving it.

Although these steps look simple on the surface, there are various terms and conditions, documentation, signatures and legal formalities on each of them. CSU will act as a single-window consultancy and initiate or manage all the tasks with little to no hassle for you.


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