Unveiling the Gateway to the Middle East: Mainland Company Setup in Dubai

Rate Thispost

Dubai, the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has emerged as a global hub for business and entrepreneurship. With its strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and progressive government policies, Dubai offers an enticing prospect for international companies seeking to expand their reach into the Middle East and beyond. One of the most sought-after options for establishing a business presence in Dubai is through mainland company setup.

This article delves into the intricacies of setting up a mainland company in Dubai, outlining the key steps, legal structures, and considerations involved in this process. By understanding these factors, you can embark on your journey to success in the dynamic business landscape of Dubai.

Understanding Mainland Company Formation

A mainland company in Dubai refers to a business entity registered with the Department of Economic Development (DED) and allowed to operate throughout the UAE. Unlike free zones, which offer specific benefits and limitations, mainland companies have greater flexibility in terms of business activities and enjoy unrestricted trade within the UAE and internationally.

The advantages of establishing a mainland company in Dubai are numerous:

  • 100% Foreign Ownership

 For many business activities, Dubai permits complete foreign ownership, eliminating the need for a local partner.

  • Strategic Location

 Dubai boasts a prime geographical position, connecting continents and serving as a gateway to lucrative markets in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

  • Tax Benefits

 Mainland companies enjoy a corporate tax exemption on profits generated from outside the UAE. Additionally, there are no personal income taxes levied.

  • World-Class Infrastructure

 Dubai offers a sophisticated infrastructure with excellent transportation networks, advanced communication technology, and modern commercial facilities.

  • Supportive Government

 The Dubai government actively promotes foreign investment and provides streamlined business setup procedures.

Key Steps for Mainland Company Setup

Setting up a mainland company in Dubai involves a series of steps that require careful planning and adherence to regulations. Here’s a breakdown of the essential stages:

  1. Choose Your Business Activity

 The first step is to identify the specific business activity you intend to pursue. The DED categorizes businesses into various sectors and sub-sectors, ensuring a clear classification for your company.

  1. Select Your Legal Structure

 Dubai offers various legal structures for mainland companies, including:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

 The most popular option, allowing up to 50 shareholders and requiring a minimum share capital of AED 150,0 (USD 41,000).

  • Sole Establishment

 Suitable for single owners, offering complete control but with limitations on business activities and no separate legal entity from the owner.

  • Branch of a Foreign Company

Ideal for established companies seeking to extend their operations to Dubai.

  1. Secure Local Partner 

 Some business activities mandate a local Emirati partner who holds a minimum 51% shareholding. However, with the increasing number of activities permitting 100% foreign ownership, this requirement is becoming less common.

  1. Obtain Initial Approval

 Once you’ve chosen your activity and structure, seek initial approval from the DED. This may involve submitting a feasibility study, depending on your business type.

  1. Register Your Company Name

 Choose a unique and appropriate trade name that complies with DED guidelines.

  1. Prepare Legal Documents

 Draft essential documents like the Memorandum of Association (MoA) and Articles of Association (AoA), outlining the company’s structure, objectives, and governance.

  1. Secure Office Space

 While a physical office is not always mandatory, securing one demonstrates a commitment to operating within the UAE. Alternatively, co-working spaces are a viable option for startups.

  1. Obtain Additional Approvals

 Certain activities might require approvals from other government entities like the Ministry of Health or Dubai Municipality.

  1. Submit Documents and Pay Fees

 Submit all required documents to the DED along with the applicable fees for registration and licensing.

  1. Collect Your Trade License

 Upon successful completion of the process, you will receive your official trade license, authorizing you to operate your mainland company in Dubai.

Considerations for Mainland Company Setup

While the process is streamlined, several factors require consideration when establishing a mainland company setup in Dubai:

  • Visa Requirements

 You will need to acquire business visas for yourself and your employees. The type of visa depends on your nationality and role in the company.

  • Ongoing Costs

Beyond initial setup fees, there are ongoing costs such as annual license renewal fees, office space rentals, and employee salaries.

  • Compliance Requirements

Maintain adherence to UAE regulations regarding accounting, taxation, and labor laws.

  • Local Service Agent

 Consider appointing a local service agent to assist with navigating regulations and administrative tasks.


Setting up a mainland company in Dubai presents a compelling opportunity for international businesses to tap into the vast potential of the Middle East and beyond. With its strategic location, supportive government policies, and dynamic business environment, Dubai offers a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish. By carefully navigating the company setup process, considering the legalities and ongoing costs, and leveraging the support available, you can unlock new avenues for growth and success. Dubai’s mainland company formation stands as a gateway, not just to a geographical location, but to a world of possibilities. So, take the first step, embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of Dubai, and embark on your journey to achieving your business aspirations.

Leave a Comment

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial