Why should you build your startup company in a UAE free zone?

As the second largest economy in the oil-rich Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been one of the best business centres in recent decades. The UAE’s own emirates have been growing structurally and economically after all, attracting foreign investors, workers, and visitors alike.

So why is the UAE a preferred location amongst the world’s biggest multinational companies? Apart from the obviously attractive ultramodern skyscrapers dotting the country, the UAE has a highly diversified economy, with lucrative sectors ranging from finance, real estate, and tourism, to manufacturing, high-tech industries and trade.

More importantly, the UAE is a business-friendly country. In fact, the UAE sits on the 16th spot of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. Furthermore, while Arabic is considered the official language, English is widely spoken by expatriates and businesspeople from all over the world.

If you are a foreigner who wants to invest or build your business in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or any one of the UAE’s seven emirates, you have the option to either (1) partner with a local who will represent your company and own 51% of the business; or (2) fully own your business by setting up a company within a UAE free zone.

While most countries in the world allow only part ownership for foreigners, UAE free zones permit 100% business ownership even for foreign companies or entrepreneurs. If you are tired of the bureaucracy and regulations involved in running your business in your own country, you can build your business in a free zone in the UAE and get more leeway with your own operations.

A UAE free trade zone is also industry-specific. For example, the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi covers construction and engineering, oil and gas, and other advanced factories. Fujairah Creative City, on the other hand, is ideal for media-related activities like marketing, consultancy e-commerce and publishing.

There are more than 50 free zone jurisdictions in the UAE, with at least one free zone in each emirate.

Apart from the freedom to make decisions for your free zone company, you also get a break from income or corporate taxes. You can enjoy tax holidays for decades and still get all the profits from your business. Free zones impose zero tariffs for imports and exports as well, allowing you to save any additional costs on raw materials.

How will you hire employees, though? As free zones are industry-specific, you can also attract local or foreign talent in the area. Free zone authorities can provide residence visas for your employees and dependents. This allows for easier relocation for your trusted team. As a business owner, you will also be eligible for a tax residency certificate, which you can use for your documentation needs.

All free zones have their unique benefits, depending on what you’re looking for. Below are some of the most popular free zones.

Fujairah Freezone Company Setup

  • Caters to the creative fields such as media & entertainment.
  • An ideal starting point for budding entrepreneurs.
  • Successful professional business environment.
  • Office lease in not mandatory.

Read more: Fujairah Freezone Company Setup

Umm Al Quwain Freezone Company Setup

  • Investor-friendly and progressive free-zone.
  • Cost-effective leasing options for office space.
  • Full range of business activities permitted.
  • Offers swift, economical, and adaptable services.

Read more: Umm Al Quwain Freezone Company Setup

DWC Free Zone Company Setup

  • Provides sustainable, happy and healthy environment.
  • Self-sustained urban destination to empower businesses.
  • A fully integrated network suited to every type of industry.
  • A preferred place to live, work as well as invest.

Read more: DWTC Freezone Company Setup

DMCC Freezone Company Setup


  • Located in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, designed for trade.
  • Unparalleled access to world-class infrastructure.
  • Offers a huge array of cutting-edge online services
  • It has direct access to both the Dubai Metro and the Dubai Tram.

Read more: DMCC Freezone Company Setup

Jebel Ali Freezone Company Setup Freezone 

  • One of the largest free zones globally
  • Ideal for businesses that import and export
  • Offer total spectrum of business premises (offices, warehouses etc.)
  • Offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect globally

Read more: Jebel Ali Freezone Company Setup

SHAMS Freezone Company Setup


  • A world-class hub for media and creativity in the region.
  • Foster a vibrant and connected ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
  • Has banking partners for opening bank accounts in no time.
  • Wide range of business activities on the same business license

Read more: SHAMS Freezone Company Setup

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone Company Setup

  • Economical and offer plenty of office spaces
  • Dual license on Mainland and Free Zone
  • Scaling of businesses with Visas is much easier
  • Combine up to 5 activities under the same license

Ajman Free Zone Company Setup (AFZ)


  • The Ajman port and Dubai and Sharjah airports are easily accessible.
  • Fully digitized set up for business.
  • Value-added services for all type of businesses.
  • Business and trade epicenter with world-class infrastructure.

Read more: Ajman Free Zone Company Setup

Dubai Airport Free Zone Company Setup (Dafza)

  • Dynamic business hub located at the heart of global trade.
  • Facilitates companies associated with different industries.
  • Exciting investment and tax incentives.
  • Expansion plans include DAFZA Industrial Park and Dubai CommerCity.

Read more: Dubai Airport Free Zone Company Setup

Ras Al Khaimah Freezone Company Setup – RAKEZ


  • Powerhouse industrial hub that offers customizable solutions
  • Wide-ranging industries, sectors and activities
  • Professional team to advice and service clients
  • State-of-the-art warehouse of various sizes

Read more: Ras Al Khaimah Freezone Company Setup

It is no surprise that global companies are continuing to mark UAE free zones as a prime office location. Whether you are just kickstarting your own mobile app company or aiming to get a wider, more global audience for your business, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or any one of the free zones within the UAE can be your next expansion hub.

Should you need help in setting up a business in the UAE, you can consult ExpressPRO for expert advice. Our company provides a complete business setup solution for free zone companies, with our team managing the paperwork and all other requirements for you.