Mainland Business Setup

Mainland Business Setup

I advise on structuring UAE Mainland limited liability and sole establishment professional companies. It is imperative to take expert advice on “Selecting Business Activities” and “Choosing Trusted Local Partners” when selecting mainland jurisdiction for the company incorporation.

Mainland Business Setup in United Arab Emirates:

The mainland companies in United Arab Emirates (UAE) are incorporated under Federal Commercial Company Law No (8) of 1984 and its amendments by Federal Law No. 13 of 1988, 2011 and 2015. The latest amendments were made in 2015 as approved by the Federal National Council.

According to United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Commercial Law the Mainland companies can be incorporated into seven different categories defined as below;

  1. Limited Liability Companies (LLC’s)
  2. Branches and Representative Offices of Foreign Companies (Branch)
  3. Branches and Representative Offices of UAE Companies (Branch)
  4. Sole Establishment Companies (Private)
  5. Private Joint Stock Companies
  6. Public Joint Stock Companies 
  7. Joint Venture Companies 

The basic requirement for all business activities in UAE is one of the following three categories of licenses:

  • Commercial  License – this license covers physical trading of all kinds of goods. It can  be  classified  as  a  general  license  for any  types  of commercial  businesses  in the city. In most cases, this is related mostly to business that deals with trading (e.g.: imports, exports, etc.)
  • Professional License –  this  license  is  released  to  individual  businesses  that  covers trades related to specific skills or professions i.e. services, craftsmen and artisans.
  • Industrial License – an industrial license is issued to corporations that deals with manufacturing of goods or anything related to industrial enterprise

These all licenses are issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED). However, a special approval from certain ministries or department is required for some categories and activities of business: for example;

  • Banks and financial institutions from the Central Bank of the UAE;
  • Insurance companies and related agencies from Insurance Authority;
  • Manufacturing from the Ministry of Finance and Industry;
  • Health care, Pharmaceutical, medical products from the Ministry of Health;
  • School, colleges and, educational institutes from Knowledge and Human development authority (KHDA).
  • Contracting and Building Maintenance and some other activities from Municipality 
  • Transportation and vehicle rental activities from Road and Transport Authority 
  • Printing, publishing and advertising activities from National Media Council;
  • Cargo Clearing, Cargo packaging, Canal dredging contracting and Fishing cages manufacturing activities from Dubai Maritime City;
  • Travel and tourism activities from Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
  • Gymnasium Club activity from Dubai Sports Council.
  • Social Club registration and licensing to be completed from Community Development Authority.
  • Tents, awnings and Tarpaulin manufacturing from Environment Protection Section of Municipality.
  • Engineering contracting and consulting from Municipality.
  • Media, advertising and publishing from National Media Council.
  • Sports and Gym activates from General department of Youth and Culture.

More detailed procedures apply to businesses engaged in oil or gas production and, financial institutes.

Ownership Requirements

All commercial activities require minimum of 51% shares representation by the UAE national. However, most of the professional activities can be registered with 100% foreign (Expat) ownership. Services of local national are still require being the local service agent. Though, the local service agent has no active part in business conduct or profit sharing but, he/she merely act as representative of the company for all government affairs.


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