If you want to set up a company that serves the people of Dubai (for example, a hair salon or a restaurant) you’ll need to establish it as a mainland business.

This is different to operating as an offshore or free zone enterprise, as these mainly cater for companies operating outside the state. If you’re keen to open a mainland business, here’s more information about the process and the benefits.

The advantages of setting up a mainland company in Dubai

  • You can operate from any location within the emirate
  • Like a free zone business, you’ll enjoy exemption from corporate tax
  • You don’t need capital to obtain a mainland licence
  • It’s easy to obtain employment visas
  • You’ll enjoy 100% repatriation of the profits and capital
  • There are no audit requirements
  • There are no restrictions when it comes to currency

Understanding mainland company ownership in Dubai

One important thing to note is that, if you want to set up an LLC (Limited Liability Company), you won’t be able to have full ownership of the business. Instead, you’ll need to find a UAE sponsor, who must own a minimum of 51% of the shares of the company. The maximum you can own is 49%. Most companies set up as an LLC, as this is the only model that allows you to engage in trade or commercial activities. Charterhouse can provide a local individual or corporate sponsor.


What are the requirements?

When setting up your company there are a few other requirements that you should be aware of:

  • There’s a minimum office space requirement of 200 sq ft
  • You’ll need approval from various officials, including:
    • The Department of Economic Development (DED)
    • The Ministry of Labour (MoL)
    • The Dubai Municipality (DM)
    • The Ministry of Interior (MoI)
  • Some business activities will need special approval. Examples are:
    • Health care services
    • Travel / tourism
    • Education services
    • Engineering consultancy
    • Money exchange
    • RTA

How to set up a mainland company in Dubai

Establishing your mainland company requires a level of know-how. There are various processes that must be completed before your business is registered, such as:

  • Company formation
  • Obtaining the relevant licences
  • Processing the labour card and immigration documents
  • Finding a local sponsor or agent
  • Company incorporation
  • Opening a commercial bank account in Dubai
  • Processing your visa
  • Translating legal documents
  • Typing the MOA

That’s where Charterhouse Lombard can help. We take on much of the work, to ensure setting up your business in Dubai is as straightforward and hassle-free as possible.