Guidelines for American Entrepreneurs: How to Establish a Business in Dubai

Dubai’s prime location, strong economic stability, and business-friendly tax regulations make it an enticing prospect for American business owners looking to expand their business and tap into new opportunities. It’s no wonder that Dubai has captured the attention and interest of ambitious entrepreneurs from across the globe, including those from the United States.
If you’re an American entrepreneur looking to expand your business into Dubai or thinking about starting a new business there, this blog post is for you.
We’ll go through the basics of getting your business up and running in Dubai and provide some tips on navigating the unique cultural and business landscape of Dubai.

Selecting the Right Business Category in Dubai

As an American entrepreneur setting up a business in Dubai, selecting the appropriate business structure is critical. Choosing a legal system that aligns with your business goals is essential, as it will directly impact factors such as tax responsibilities, liability, ownership, and overall management.
Making the right choice in this aspect is of utmost importance for your business’s success and smooth operation in Dubai.

Types of Business Structures in Dubai:

Sole Proprietorship

The sole proprietorship is an ideal legal structure for American entrepreneurs in Dubai seeking to operate independently without partners. Under this arrangement, the business owner assumes full personal accountability for all liabilities and debts. It provides a suitable framework for individuals looking to establish and manage their business without additional partners.


A partnership is a legally recognized arrangement where two or more individuals come together to jointly share a business’s profits and losses. Different types of blocks, such as general and limited, determine the extent of each partner’s liability.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

In Dubai, an LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a well-known legal framework that grants its owners limited liability protection while enabling them to retain control over business management. In Dubai, limited liability companies (LLCs) are required to have a minimum of two shareholders and can accommodate a maximum of 50 shareholders.

Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC)

A Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC) is a legal entity where company shares are publicly traded on the stock market. This particular structure is well-suited for sizable corporations and businesses requiring substantial investments to carry out their operations.

Private Joint Stock Company (PrJSC)

A Private Joint Stock Company (PrJSC) is a legal framework that shares similarities with a PJSC but differs in that its shares are not publicly traded. This structure is particularly suitable for companies requiring substantial investment but avoiding public trading.
It is essential to think carefully about the different types of business structures available in Dubai and choose the one best suited for your specific needs. This includes considering factors such as the legal requirements for each type of structure, the tax obligations, and the operational costs.
By choosing the proper structure from the beginning, you can avoid making changes later, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

1. Choose a Name for Your Business

Choosing a business name in Dubai is an exciting step towards establishing your presence. However, ensuring that the name instantly captures customers’ attention and is easy to remember is essential.
The business name plays a crucial role in creating the initial impression on clients. When selecting a trading name, it’s essential to consider the nature of your business and choose a name that accurately represents your brand. While a creative or catchy name can be attention-grabbing, it should still be relevant to your products or services.
Additionally, it’s crucial to comply with the UAE’s naming conventions and avoid infringing on existing trademarks or violating any laws and regulations. The Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) provides guidelines on prohibited words or phrases that cannot be used in company names.

2. Choose the Right Jurisdiction

When setting up a business in Dubai, you can set up your company in either a free zone or the mainland. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a choice.
Dubai’s free zones offer an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to expand internationally and have a global presence. These zones provide foreign investors 100% ownership and numerous benefits, such as tax exemptions, simplified incorporation procedures, and streamlined licensing processes. Free zones cater to specific industries like technology, media, and finance.
On the other hand, establishing a business on the Dubai mainland grants entrepreneurs access to the local market and a broader customer base. No geographical limitations allow businesses to freely connect with customers throughout the UAE. Operating on the mainland also facilitates direct trade with other mainland companies, fostering valuable collaborations and partnerships.

3. Get Your License in Dubai

Before commencing any business venture in Dubai, obtaining the necessary license is mandatory. The specific type of license depends on the nature of your business activity. For American entrepreneurs, three main categories of licenses are available: commercial, professional, and industrial.
Commercial licenses are granted to businesses that buy and sell goods and services. Professional licenses, on the other hand, are issued to individuals providing specialized services, such as doctors, engineers, or lawyers. Lastly, industrial licenses are designated explicitly for manufacturing or industrial activities companies. It is essential to determine the appropriate license type based on the nature of your business to ensure compliance with regulations.
When applying for a license in Dubai, specific documents must be submitted, such as passport copies of all shareholders/partners/directors, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from a local sponsor if needed, and a copy of the tenancy contract, among others.
After applying, along with the necessary documents and fees, the Department of Economic Development (DED) will review it. Once the DED approves, you can collect your trade license from them. Completing all required paperwork is essential to ensure a successful licensing process.

Company Formation & Registration

After selecting the appropriate business type, choosing a trading name, and obtaining the necessary license, the subsequent crucial phase is registering and incorporating your business. This step is of utmost importance as it guarantees the legal operation of your American business within Dubai.
It is necessary to submit all the required documentation to commence the process, including passport copies of shareholders, no-objection certificates from current sponsors or partners, and any power of attorney granting authorization to act on behalf of the company throughout the procedure, among other required documents. Subsequently, you must review and endorse several legal papers for establishing your company, such as a Memorandum of Association (MOA), Articles of Association (AOA), and similar documents.
The subsequent step involves settling the registration fees, which typically vary depending on whether you register in the mainland or free zone areas. Upon completing these procedures, it is necessary to wait for approval from the relevant authorities before proceeding with other essential tasks, such as opening corporate bank accounts and undertaking further actions.

Setup Your Business in Dubai, UAE, as an American Entrepreneur

Starting a business in Dubai as an American entrepreneur may initially seem complex, but fear not! It can be a surprisingly straightforward process with the proper knowledge and guidance. I hope this post has provided valuable information and pointed you in the right direction as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.
Before you dive into starting your business in Dubai, you must understand the requirements and steps involved. It is also crucial to ensure that your license application is accurately filled out, complete, and free from errors.
To simplify this process and ensure a smooth experience, it is highly recommended to seek the assistance of ExpressPRO’s experts in Dubai business setup. With their team of experienced professionals specializing in company registration, you can trust that everything will be handled on your behalf.
By partnering with ExpressPRO, you can rest assured that the intricate details and paperwork will be handled efficiently, saving you valuable time and effort.

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