Company Formation Dubai Mainland: Business Setup Guide 2024

UAE Business Setup

Starting a business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be an exciting venture. Offering a strategic opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs worldwide. Including foreign company expanding operations, a multinational corporation seeking cost-effective strategies, or an investor eyeing emerging market trends. Company Formation Dubai Mainland provides an ecosystem designed to facilitate entrepreneurial ventures. With its stable political and economic environment and a multicultural workforce, the UAE has emerged as a global business hub bridging markets across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Company Formation in Dubai Mainland

When considering company formation in Dubai, understanding the process, requirements, and benefits is crucial. Whether you’re planning a basic trading activity, professional services, or industrial ventures, navigating Dubai’s mainland company formation requires insight into the steps, documents, costs, and timelines involved. Dubai mainland companies operate under the economic department of the respective emirate, providing access to the entire UAE and international markets without restrictive limitations.

Mainland companies in Dubai are registered under the Dubai Economy and Tourism (DET), serving as gateways to vast business opportunities. Unlike free zones or offshore entities, mainland companies enjoy the flexibility to conduct both local and international business activities connected to their trade.

Step-by-Step Guide to Company Formation in UAE

1. Select Business Activity

Choose from a list of activities provided by the Dubai Economy and Tourism (DET), including commercial, professional, or industrial sectors.

2. Choose Legal Structure

Determine the appropriate legal structure based on business activities, with options ranging from LLCs (Limited Liability Companies) to partnerships or sole proprietorships.

3. Select a Trade Name

After choosing your jurisdiction, propose three or more trade names for registration, ensuring compliance with guidelines and availability.

4. Draft Memorandum of Association (MOA)

Prepare a standard MOA outlining company details, share capital, and management structure, adhering to licensing authority guidelines.

5. Attest Tenancy Contract (Ijari)

Provide an attested tenancy contract for office space, shop, or warehouse, essential for company registration.

6. Final Submission of Documents

Submit trade name, initial approval, MOA, and tenancy contract for processing by the licensing authority, leading to the issuance of a payment voucher.

Cost and Timeline

The cost and timeline for mainland company formation vary based on business activities, external approvals, and capital requirements. While a basic trading activity can be completed within a week, more complex ventures may take up to four weeks or longer. Costs typically include licensing fees, capital deposits, external approvals, and optional services like virtual addresses or flexi-desks.

Local Agent Requirement

Although recent regulatory changes allow expatriates to own companies without UAE national partners, certain business activities may still require a local service agent for registration and facilitation. A local agent has to be 100% UAE national, his role as a facilitator involves assisting with approvals, visa applications, and government coordination, ensuring compliance with legal formalities.

Comparison of Limited Liability Company and Sole Establishment

Understanding the differences between LLCs and sole establishments is essential for selecting the appropriate legal structure:


– Offers limited liability protection, with shareholders’ liability restricted to the company’s capital. Ideal for ventures involving multiple partners or complex business activities.

Sole Establishment

– Owned entirely by one individual, with unlimited personal liability. While simpler in structure, sole establishments carry higher personal risk but may be suitable for small-scale enterprises.


Capital Requirements and Considerations for Mainland Companies

Mainland companies in Dubai typically do not have standard minimum capital requirements, offering flexibility to align capital with business needs. However, sufficient capital is essential for visa applications, project bidding, and operational expenses. Capital amounts vary based on activity type, shareholder requirements, and regulatory compliance.

Discussion on Subsidiary, Branch, and Representative Office

Differentiating between subsidiaries, branches, and representative offices helps businesses explore expansion options in the UAE:


A separate corporate entity owned by a parent company, offering legal and financial independence.


An extension of the parent entity, engaging in similar activities under the parent company’s name, subject to local regulations and approvals.

Representative Office

Limited to marketing and promotional activities, serving as an intermediary between the parent company and local markets, without invoicing or sales capabilities.

Ministry of Economy Approval Process

For branches of foreign or free zone companies, registration with the Ministry of Economy is mandatory, involving a deposit and approval process. Failure to comply may result in penalties or fines of 10,000 Dirhams. The penalty actually starts from the month you register the license. highlighting the importance of timely registration and adherence to regulatory requirements.

Normally, the ministry of economy approval comes into picture only after the issuance of the license. After taking the license from the economic department, the company has to approach the Ministry of Economy. Many people are missing this and because of that, companies are getting hefty fines and people are not aware about it.

It is straight 50,000 or 100,000 dirhams fine if a business fails to register the company within one month or else they have to provide an undertaking letter stating detailing why they were not able to open the bank account and put the deposit on the basis that they will give the deviation.


Establishing a business in the UAE offers vast opportunities for growth and expansion in a dynamic economic landscape. By navigating the intricacies of mainland company formation, entrepreneurs can unlock the region’s potential while ensuring compliance with legal frameworks and market regulations. Whether setting up a trading enterprise, professional services firm, or industrial venture, strategic planning and meticulous execution are key to success in the UAE’s thriving business environment.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is a local partner required for mainland company formation in Dubai?

   Recent regulatory changes allow expatriates to own companies without UAE national partners in mainland company setups, offering greater ownership flexibility.

2. What are the capital requirements for mainland companies in Dubai?

   While there are no standard minimum capital requirements, sufficient capital is necessary for visa applications, project bidding, and operational expenses, with amounts varying based on activity type and shareholder considerations.

3. What is the role of a local agent in mainland company registration?

   A local agent facilitates the registration process for certain business activities, assisting with approvals, visa applications, and government coordination, ensuring compliance with legal formalities.

4. What distinguishes subsidiaries, branches, and representative offices in the UAE?

   Subsidiaries are separate corporate entities owned by a parent company, while branches are extensions of the parent entity, and representative offices focus on marketing and promotional activities without invoicing or sales capabilities.

5. Why is registration with the Ministry of Economy important for branches of foreign or free zone companies?

   Registration with the Ministry of Economy is mandatory for certain company setups, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and avoiding penalties or fines for non-compliance.

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