How Long Does It Take To Start A Company In Dubai?

How Long Does It Take To Start A Company In Dubai?

Dubai is considered one of the most business-friendly cities in the world. With the presence of several different free economic zones that facilitate the setup of businesses, Dubai has grown to be home to some of the largest companies in the world.
Dubai has traditionally invited people from all across the world to set up a business, and there are very few hindrances to start a company in Dubai. As long as you comply with local laws and the business of your company is legitimate, you can start a company in Dubai in a matter of days.

In general, it will take not more than four to five business days to start a company in the UAE, particularly in Dubai. However, there are several factors that determine how much time it takes for business in Dubai. Let us take a look at some of those factors.

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If you do not belong to Dubai, your nationality can be a major governing factor in determining how long it takes you to start a company in UAE. There are several circumstances that may arise in this case.
If Dubai or the UAE has agreements with the country that you belong to, starting a company in Dubai can be an easy task. These agreements will generally cover various different subheads like taxation, distribution of profit, the share of local and international ownership of the company, etc. If the agreement is robust, it will take you no more time to start your company than it takes a local businessperson.

However, if you belong to a country that the UAE has never conducted business with, does not have an agreement with, or considers an adversary, there can be some roadblocks to your starting a company in UAE. In addition to your company documents, you might need to arrange various approvals from your home country as well as from the ministries of the UAE.
Not just the nationality of the owner, but the nationality of the company shareholders also matters when you are starting a company in Dubai. The above conditions and approvals apply to both majority and minority shareholders of your company.

Business Jurisdiction

The business jurisdiction of the region where you are looking to set up your business can considerably alter the total amount of time that it takes to set up the business. Dubai has three main business jurisdictions – mainland, free zone, and offshore. The requirements to start a business in Dubai in each of these jurisdictions, as well as the paperwork and permissions required for the same, vary widely.

Starting a company in the Dubai mainland can take weeks, and requires either a resident visa or an investor visa. This is because when you need to rent a property after setting up your company, only these two visa categories are eligible.
You also need to select the business activity you will be involved in. If your company involves any sort of trading, you will require a trading license on the mainland. For a trading license, at least 51% of your company must be owned locally.

Setting up a company in a free zone is significantly easier. Dubai has several free zones, and each of them has an authority that makes its own rules for the region. In Dubai free zones, 100% foreign ownership is permitted, and 100% of the profits can be retained by the company. There is also no tax to be paid.
In the offshore category, starting a company in Dubai takes no more than a week or so. However, offshore businesses are not permitted to carry out business on the Dubai mainland. Also, the number of jurisdictions under the offshore category is considerably fewer.


Business Activity

As mentioned above, the type of business activity your company will be carrying out can be essential.  In determining whether it is permitted to operate, and the time it will take for this permission to come through. There are several types of licenses required to start a company in Dubai, particularly on the mainland.

For companies that are involved in buying and selling goods, a commercial license is issued. Whether you are trading in oil and gas, spare parts, chemicals, petroleum-based products, furniture, or any other similar goods. You will require a commercial trade license as a prerequisite to setting up your business.

If your company does not deal in tangible goods but rather in intellectual goods, such as consultancies and legal services. You need a professional license. Even if you are not a company but a professional like a lawyer, media specialist, IT service provider, artist, etc. You will need to have a professional license to work in Dubai. So Dubai free zones also offer freelance licenses to individuals working in these industries outside of companies.

Lastly, if your business involves the manufacturing of goods, you will need an industrial license to operate. For this, it is also mandatory for you to have a physical office in the UAE. Starting such a company can also take a longer time.


The UAE government permits several different types of shareholding structures in businesses that operate in Dubai. Each shareholding structure requires some sort of
scrutiny. The type of structure your company has can change the amount of time it takes. to set up the company.

If your company is a sole proprietorship, privately-held, or a free zone company. It will naturally take much less time for granting a permit.
If your company has multiple shareholders, is publicly held, aims to operate on the mainland, or a joint venture. It will take longer to start a company in Dubai.


As might be evident to you, it can be tricky to start a company in Dubai. To help you with setting up your company, Shuraa provides expert consultation services. With years of experience in helping companies manoeuvre through the complex Dubai business environment, we are just the right people for the job when it comes to setting up a new business in the UAE.

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