Home to about 90% expatriates from almost every nook and cranny of the world, Dubai is a gold mine of business opportunities for investors the world over. If you are looking to establish your presence in Dubai? A free zone business setup can be the best route! The process of obtaining a trade licence is extremely easy, and you don’t have to break the bank to bring your vision to life. You have more than 30 business-perfect free trade zones in Dubai, one better than the next, to choose from. And, you may strike gold when it comes to the benefits of establishing a free zone company. Like everyone else, you might also be looking for the cheapest and best free zones for company formation in Dubai. Fret not, we have got your back. Here’s a primer on the best free zones in Dubai where starting and doing business won’t cost you the earth.

Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO)

About: With a dynamic commercial and social environment, and the presence of progressive industrial zones, office towers, villas & apartments, R&D units, educational institutions, and healthcare units, Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) is a visual definition of the harmonious coexistence of residents and businessowners medley. Launched in 2004 by the Government of Dubai as a 7.2 km2-wide residential and commercial integrated community, DSO offers free trade zone incentives and benefits to businesses operating from the tech park. Tucked smack dab at the intersection of Dubai–Al-Ain Road and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai Silicon Oasisis one of the best free zones in the UAE for modern technology-based businesses to operate from the high-tech ecosystem in the heart of Dubai. The lifestyle in DSO is notches above with state-of-the-art amenities including schools, universities, hospitals, community centers, shopping complexes, children’s play areas, swimming pools and tennis courts. In a nutshell, DSO is a perfect package of aesthetic infrastructure, urban master-planned community and prompt in–house business services, any entrepreneur would admire!

ParametersFeatures/Benefits
Business TypesA technology hub, for IT, industrial, research and development businesses
Office SpaceTotal capacity of 97,740 sq. m of commercial space dedicated to offices, multiple-use warehousing and manufacturing
land for development.
Key elements of DSO high-tech ecosystemLarge enterprises, startups & medium-sized businesses, universities and an incubation Centre, venture capital funds, high-tech infrastructure and government & business services
Company Type/Legal Forms1. Branch of any established company, whether in the UAE or abroad: The business activity must be similar of the parent company.
2. Free Zone Establishment (FZE): The shareholder can either be an individual or a non-individual/corporate
3. Free Zone Company (FZCO): Shareholders can be either individuals or non-individual(s)/corporate.
DSO Operating Licences1. Service Licence: to conduct only specified services.
2. Trade Licence: to carry out activities that are related to import, export, and distribution of goods and commodities as specified in the licence.
3. Industrial Licence: to import raw material, manufacture, and process, assemble, package and export the finished product.
DSO Licence FeeAED 12,000
Special DSO Licences1. Business Operation Permit: Granted by Dubai Economic Department (DED) as a special permit to companies operating in the Administrative Zone of DSOA (areas owned by private developers)
2. Entrepreneurial Business Licence (EBL): Structured to accelerate the successful development of young entrepreneurs and their businesses through an array of support resources and services.
DSO Service PortfolioIT Services
1. Data Centre Hosting
2. Telecommunication and Internet Services
3. Network Services
4. E-services
Government Services
1. Business Registration & Licensing
2. Customs Clearance
3. Municipal Services & Building Certification
4. Immigration Services & Employee Visa Processing
Others
1. Direct helplines and an exclusive client management service with competently trained attendants
DSO Free Zone Business Setup Benefits1. Guaranteed 100% repatriation of invested capital and profits gained
2. Guaranteed 100% ownership of the business both for individuals and corporate entities
3. Exemption from income tax, corporate tax, and export or import tax
4. Economical cost of operations
5. Futuristic IT facilities and infrastructure, including tier 3 data center
6. Quick and affordable business setup and licensing
7. Exclusive business support services such as the integrated online e-Business system that offers tenants quick and effective services at the click of a button
8. Access to a regional pool of expert engineering and technical professionals
9. Steady and unambiguous regulations
10. Access to more than 5 billion people in the consumer markets of North Africa, Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East
11. Top-notch offices, conference facilities, 24-hour security, daily maintenance and a fully completed road network

Meydan Free Zone

The next free zone on the list of cheapest and best free zones in Dubai is Meydan Free Zone which is a thoughtful creation of Dubai government to offer investors cost-effective business setup solution in Dubai. The free zone quaintly sits in Meydan Stadium at the heart of Dubai, within close proximity to the Dubai Logistics Corridor and a central location near Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum City. Studded with a smorgasbord of commercial developments, sports, hotels, entertainment and fun facilities, a string of state-of-the-art business parks, hospitals, schools, residential villa communities, business towers with extravagant waterfront developments and shopping destinations, Meydan Free Zone is a treat for senses not just for business persons but for residents as well. And do we need to mention, the horse racing lovers!

ParametersFeatures/Benefits
LocationIn the vicinity of Downtown Dubai
Business TypesMedia and Consultancy-related businesses. Ideal for freelancers or small start-ups. E-commerce, General Trading, Management Consultancy, Real Estate Consultancy, Web Portal, Holding Company, HR & Recruitment, Advertising & Marketing, Technical Services, Accounting, Book Keeping & Auditing are the most commonly seen business activities in Meydan out of 1,500 permissible activities
Office SpaceMeydan free zone company only operates with Flexi-desk. The free zone does not offer warehouse space now.
Shares / ShareholdersShares
1. Bearer shares are not permitted
2. All shares must be fully paid when allocated
3. Different classes of shares are not allowed
Shareholders
1. 1 minimum and 7 maximum shareholder/s in a Meydan-licenced company
2. Presence of the shareholder at the time of the establishment of the Meydan Free Zone company is a must, be it physical or through an attorney.
3. One can be a partner/shareholder in multiple companies
Directors / Managers / AuditorsA minimum of one director and at least 1 manager (under the company’s visa) are allowed in one Meydan free zone company. The appointed manager should be a natural person and his name shall be on licence. A Meydan free zone company shall appoint an auditor and file annual accounts as may be requested by the authorities
Share capitalThe minimum share capital for a new Company and Subsidiary is AED 100,000 per company. Branches are exempt from the requirement of additional share capital.
Company Type/Legal FormsSole establishment, limited liability company, and branch of a foreign Company are allowed for Meydan free zone company. This is worth noting that only individual directors are permitted in Meydan free zone company not corporate directors. Company name must end with the word “LLC-FZ” as the case may be, furthermore location names and religious words are prohibited.
Meydan Trade Licences1. Zero Visa Business Formation Package: AED 12,500
2. One Visa Business Formation Package: AED 14,350
3. Two Visa Business Formation Package: AED 18,505
All three Meydan licence packages include LLC-FZ Trade Licence, mentioned Visa Allocation, 3 Business Activities and Lease Agreement. You may save more with a Multi-year Setup.
DSO Free Zone Business Setup Benefits1. Premier location for new business in Dubai
2. 100% foreign ownership
3. 100% repatriation of capital
4. Exemption from income tax, corporate tax, and export or import tax
5. Economical cost of operations
6. Futuristic IT facilities and infrastructure
7. Cost-effective business setup and licensing packages
8. Smooth and competent licensing and business registration procedure
9. Exclusive business support services
10. Easy and instant free zone business setup
11. Investors can even conduct their business through a Flexi desk
12. Premium location for your business setup
13. Excessively secure & regulated business environment

Dubai Healthcare City

For those who want to join an established, evolving, thriving community of excellence in the heart of the Middle East’s commercial and medical tourism capital, here’s our third cheapest and best free zone in Dubai – Dubai Healthcare City (aka DHCC or DHCA). Standing the test of time since 2002, the urban healthcare milestone is all decked up with world-class amenities which makes it a haven for Dubai lovers to live and invest! As the name suggests, the free zone has been installed to support individuals and corporations in advancing their healthcare services while engaging with the community and relishing the exuberance of the central healthcare communities. Globally acknowledged location of choice for quality healthcare and an integrated center of excellence for clinical and wellness services, medical education and research, the free zone is every bit perfect for businesses in the healthcare sector. The free zone is governed by the independent regulatory arm, Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulation (DHCR), whose quality standards are accredited by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). The process of business formation and securing a commercial Licence to operate in Dubai Healthcare City is short and efficient. Establishing a business in Dubai Healthcare City gives you direct access to a number of benefits including custom-fitted facilities, trendy offices or desk space. MASAAR, their e-services system, puts the bow on its reputation as one of the most business-friendly free zones in Dubai!

ParametersFeatures/Benefits
Business TypesBusiness activities in Healthcare, Education, Research, Wellness, Hospitality, Retail, Business Support, Support Services, Regional Headquarters and Property Services, categories
Office SpaceLeasing Options
1. Clinical spaces.
2.Non-clinical (retail) spaces.
Business Center
3. Executive Desk: Ideal for companies that require minimum space.
4. Executive Office – Perfect for companies seeking full-fledged furnished offices.
Others: DHCC also offers Freehold Investment opportunities.
Online Business Setup Procedure1. Sign up as Investor
2. Submit Initial application
3. Make initial application Payment
4. Obtain Provisional Approval
5. Submit Commercial Licence Application
6. Make commercial Licence Payment
7. Submit Original Legal Documents as applicable
8. Collect Commercial Licence
Company Type/Legal Forms1. Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ-LLC): A company formed as an independent legal entity with shareholders as an individual(s) and/or corporate(s). To incorporate an entity as FZ-LLC a minimum of one shareholder and a minimum of one director are required.
2. Branch of UAE Company/Branch of UAE Establishment: A legal dependent company that is part of its UAE registered parent company outside the DHCC jurisdiction. Any company established outside the DHCC, either Licenced as a company or establishment, can obtain a branch Licence within DHCC. The Branch Company should be fully owned by the parent company.
3. Branch of a Foreign Company: A legal dependent company of its parent company outside the UAE, even if its place of business is not in the parent company’s headquarters.
DHCC Operating Licences1. Professional Licence: A new medical healthcare professional licence issued to provide medical services mentioned in the licence within Dubai Healthcare City Free Zone.
2. Commercial Licence: To conduct trading activities outlined in the licence.
3. Industrial Licence: DHCC does not grant an industrial licence.
DHCC Licence FeeOne Time Service Fees
1. Initial Application Fee: AED 1,550
2. Registration Fees: AED 3500
3. Commercial Licence Fees: Click on the DHCA – Regulations Price List 2018 All Services
Note: Each Fee transaction is subject to:
4. Innovation fee of 10.00 AED
5. Knowledge fee of 10.00 AED
Time Frame for Licence Issuance3-10 Working Days from Initial Approval, subject to change depending on the list of activities and fulfilling the requirements of DHCA.
DHCC Service PortfolioGovernment Services
1. Property management and community services
2. Employee Services
3. Student Services
4. Establishment Card Services
5. Card Services
6. Visit Visa Services
7. Letter Services
8. Absconder Services
9. Company PO Box Services
10. Immigration Print
11. A unique and interactive online system namely MASAAR enables the member businesses to swiftly and easily transact all their regulatory, immigration and service set up requirements, amendments, and cancellations.
Minimum paid-up capital requirementFree-zone Limited Liability Company (FZ-LLC):
1. AED 50,000 for Non-clinical facilities/companies
2. AED 100,000 for Clinical facilities
3. AED 300,000 for Hospitals
Hotels in DHCC:
1. AED 1 Million for 3-star hotels
2. AED 2 Million for 4-star hotels
3. AED 3 Million for 5-star hotels

Foreign Branches: Not applicable*
DHCC Free Zone Business Setup Benefits1. Guaranteed 100% repatriation of invested capital and profits gained
2. Guaranteed 100% ownership of the business both for individuals and corporate entities
3. Guaranteed 50-year exemption from personal, income and corporate taxes
4. No constraints on capital, trade barriers or quotas.
5. Competitive pricing
6. Flexible real estate design to squarely fit the needs of businesses of all types and sizes
7. Economical cost of operations
8. Advanced facilities and infrastructure
9. Quick and affordable business setup and licensing
10 .Exclusive business support services such as the integrated online e-service platform that offers members quick and effective services right away

Get in Touch with your DHCC Business Setup Advisors at Adam Global

No matter what free zone strikes the right chord in your heart, our Dubai Business Advisors can help you in setting up your free zone company formation in Dubai effortlessly without being an additional burden on your budget. To know “How?” meet our Dubai free zone business formation specialist. Click here to book your first free consultancy with us!

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