Offshore companies such as Ras al-Khaimah ( RAK), Ajman and Jebal Ali, are viable alternatives to the more traditional International Business Company (IBC). However, they are not permitted to conduct any business within the UAE, other than to engage banks and professional services to support their international operations. The one exemption is that a Jebal Ali Offshore is the only corporate entity that may own property in Dubai. These companies are flexible, discreet and low cost options.
The UAE has 38 free zones with 9 more under construction. The Free Zones have been designed and developed to support specific sectors. We work closely with a number of them, the most popular being; Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), Fujairah Creative City Free Zone and Jebal Ali Free Zone (JAFZA).
Free Zone companies are also not permitted to conduct business within the mainland UAE, but offer considerable advantages for international operations. DIFC and DMCC are especially recognised as major financial and trading centres, while DSO is a burgeoning tech hub and JAFZA boasts the world's largest man-made port.
Although each have there own idiosyncrasies, often the attractions are no corporate taxes (or personal taxes for employees), no restrictions on foreign employment, state-of-the-art technology, leading-edge banking facilities, political stability, a huge range of licensable activities and of course the prestige of the location which also affords easy access to Europe, Asia and Africa.
Mainland companies are those permitted to conduct business within each Emirate. The first decision is to choose the Emirate and apply for an appropriate license. Licenses are given for professional and commercial businesses with a vast range of activities available.
The perceived disadvantage of a mainland company is that it requires a 51% local owner, but other options are available that mitigate this. For example, if the company is only directing business back to a parent, a Representative Office could apply, whereas if it were acting in its own right, but still in line with the activities of its parent, a Branch Office would be applicable, neither of which require a local owner and afford 100% foreign ownership.
Even in chases where a 51% local owner is required, we are in the unusual position of being able to offer a corporate shareholder rather than an individual from the UAE. The main benefit is mitigating concerns about coming into the market and selecting a local partner who may leave the UAE, change his mind, or at worst case, pass away during the course of the year leaving the company and it's shareholders in legal limbo. With a corporate entity, the contractual terms remain in place, so it gives more stability to the arrangement than having an individual being the local partner.
Furthermore, the law permits the issuance of constitutional documents for an LLC to contain provisions designed to protect the interests of the foreign minority shareholder, including but not limited to the profits distribution, assets entitlement, appointment of directors/managers, powers of administration, and influence in decision making.
For further information about doing business in Dubai please contact us.