Dubai is a bustling hub for commerce and innovation, attracting entrepreneurs from around the world. With its strategic location, booming economy, and government initiatives fostering business growth, it presents an incredible opportunity. If you are considering setting up a business in UAE, having a Dubai Mainland license will offer a range of advantages to build and grow your company significantly. Read along to learn everything you need to know about the business setup in Dubai mainland.

What is a Mainland Business?

A company set up on the mainland, directly operates under the UAE’s legal framework. Unlike setting up a business in free zones, where there is a geographical boundary for operation, mainland businesses can freely conduct business with other companies throughout the UAE and internationally. Also, after the implementation of the Commercial Companies Law in June 2021, the UAE government has permitted 100% foreign ownership to mainland businesses. The overall freedom offered by it makes it ideal for businesses seeking long-term growth and a strong regional presence.

Benefits of Mainland Company Formation in Dubai

Here are a few reasons why you should go for a Business setup in Dubai mainland:

  • Unrestricted Trade and Location Freedom

A Dubai mainland trade license will allow you to operate anywhere in the Emirate and trade freely with other mainland companies and the wider UAE market. Companies on the mainland can establish multiple branches, allowing them to create a strong presence throughout the UAE. 

  • Diverse Business Activities

Compared to free zones, mainland trade license Dubai offers a wider scope of business activities to choose from. This gives you the flexibility to explore multiple industries and offer your services to a wider clientele.

  • 100% Ownership Potential

As mentioned earlier, the relaxed regulations of Dubai permit 100% ownership of the business to be foreign. This means that you don’t need a local sponsor to set up your company and get full control over your business decisions. 

  • Access to government contracts

Another advantage of the mainland company set-up license is the opportunity to work on government contracts. In Dubai, where government tenders are plentiful for businesses, mainland companies will be able to effectively compete and secure contracts. 

  • Government Support

Dubai’s government actively fosters business growth through initiatives, streamlined processes, and excellent infrastructure. This supportive environment makes it easier to establish and operate your mainland business.

Types of Mainland Licenses in Dubai

When it comes to establishing a business set up on Dubai’s mainland there are several mainland license categories to choose from, depending on the type of your business:

  • Commercial license

Businesses involved in general trade, including import and export, find this the most popular option. Many traders opt for this option because it allows them to engage in multiple trading activities.

  • Professional license

Businesses offering professional services such as consultancy, accounting, legal, engineering, IT, or medical services are granted this license. If you are a business offering professional services, then getting a professional license will be a cost-effective option. 

  • Industrial License

Companies involved in manufacturing, processing, assembly or related activities are granted industrial licenses. It comes with benefits like preferential rental terms for industrial spaces, reduced land rates for setting up facilities, and even discounted utility bills.

  • Field-specific licenses

Apart from the above, a few licenses are given to businesses operating in a specific industry. Tourism licenses are granted for businesses involved in the tourism industry, like travel agencies. Similarly, property management companies or real estate brokerage firms are given real-estate licenses. Restaurants and cafes are granted restaurant licenses.

How to Get a Mainland License in Dubai

The process of setting up a mainland business in Dubai is fairly easy. The following steps can give you an overview of the process.

  1. Choose your business activity

The first step towards getting your Dubai mainland license is to identify the nature of your business. This is an important step because it will decide the type of license you should apply for. Analyse the Dubai market, meticulously research and select the activity that best aligns with your core operations.

  1. Choose a legal structure for your business

Choosing an ideal legal structure can enhance the productivity of your business. Common options include a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Sole Establishment, or a branch of a foreign company. Each has its own advantages and requirements. Judicially consider your business objectives, degree of risk, scale of operation and other factors before making a decision.

  1. Find a Local sponsor

The Department of Economic Development (DED) maintains a list of approved activities that can have 100% foreign ownership. However certain business activities may still require a local sponsor. Consider consulting a business formation specialist to assist you in finding a sponsor if needed. 

  1. Reserve a trade name

Choose a unique name that fits your branding objective and follows the DED regulations. Then, submit a name reservation request to secure the name that you’ve picked.

  1. Prepare necessary documents

Once you’ve chosen your business activity and its legal structure, prepare a Memorandum of Association, a Local Service Agent Agreement (LSA) if required, office lease agreement and other necessary documents and submit them for approval with the DED.

  1. Additional approvals

Depending on your chosen business activity, you might need approvals from government bodies like the DED or a specific regulatory authority for a business set up in Dubai’s mainland. 

  1. Pay license fees

If all the approvals have been obtained, pay the relevant license fee for your business activity and legal structure. The DED will issue the business license, marking the commencement of business. 

Why Cleritbiz for Your Mainland Company Formation in Dubai

A mainland business in Dubai is an exciting venture offering a wealth of opportunities for the ambitious. With its strategic location, unrestricted market access, and government support a mainland trade license in Dubai is a compelling proposition. With the help of a local expert, you can start your mainland business. Cleritbiz, an experienced business consulting firm, can make the mainland company formation in Dubai easier for you. Our business set-up solutions can guide you through the process and successfully establish the venture of your dreams. Book a free consultation to kick-start your mainland business journey!

FAQs on Mainland Company Formation in Dubai

1. What are the legal forms of mainland businesses in Dubai?

Sole proprietorship
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Civil company
Branch office of a foreign company
Representative office
Public and Private Shareholding Companies

2. What is the difference between a mainland, free zone, and offshore company in Dubai?

Mainland: Allows you to do business in the local market and outside the UAE without restrictions.
Free Zone: Offers tax benefits and easy setup processes but restricts business activities within the free zone or internationally.
Offshore: Primarily used for international business and asset protection, cannot conduct business within the UAE.

3. What is the role of a local sponsor?

A local sponsor, also known as a UAE national sponsor, is required for certain types of mainland companies like LLCs. The local sponsor holds 51% of the shares in the company, but profit-sharing and management control can be structured differently through a side agreement.