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    Overview of Mainland Company Setup in Dubai under the Department of Economic Development

    The Department of Economic Development (DED) is responsible for issuing trade licenses to businesses operating in mainland Dubai. Established with the aim of promoting economic growth and implementing relevant policies, the DED works towards achieving the government’s vision of expanding and developing various economic sectors. We work closely with the DED to simplify the process of business setup in Dubai mainland.

    Benefits of setting up a mainland company in Dubai

    A mainland company, also known as an 'onshore' company, is licensed by the DED of the relevant Emirate and has the freedom to conduct business anywhere in the UAE. Setting up a mainland company in Dubai offers benefits such as flexibility in conducting business activities both locally and in foreign markets, no limit on the number of visas issued for the company, the ability to have office premises located anywhere in mainland Dubai, and accessibility and brand visibility. Additionally, mainland companies have access to government tenders as government departments typically do not conduct business with free zone companies.

    We always been to meet and exceed your needs, by working tirelessly to provide exceptional service.

    Under the Department of Economic Development, there are several licensing options available for companies looking to operate in Dubai mainland. A commercial license, in the form of a Limited Liability Company (LLC), is the most widely used commercial entity for carrying out any commercial activity in Dubai. A professional license, on the other hand, is typically issued for services, skills, and expertise of the individual(s) conducting the business and can be in the form of a sole establishment or an LLC. A branch office license is a legal extension of a local or a foreign company, while a representative office is primarily set up to promote the business and expand its accessibility. For both a branch office and a representative office, a UAE national is required to be appointed as a local service agent.

    The Steps of
    Company Formation

    You Choose an Activity

    Activity that you want to pursue and start in Dubai Mainland


    We Reserve it for you

    We'll reserve your trade name and get the initial approval.


    We Prepare Documents

    We'll handle your company's paperwork and documentation.


    Trade License Ready

    You'll receive a trade license to launch your business.

    UAE Amends Law to Allow 100% Foreign Ownership of Mainland Companies

    Foreign ownership of mainland/onshore companies in the UAE has been a significant concern for foreign investors due to the requirement of partnering with UAE nationals who needed to own at least 51% of the company shares. This arrangement did not allow foreign investors to independently manage their company affairs, and in some company forms, they had to appoint a local service agent without any ownership in the company. To address these issues and boost foreign investment, the UAE amended its Commercial Companies Law, allowing 100% foreign ownership of onshore companies incorporated in the country, effective from June 1, 2021.

    This amendment permits 100% foreign ownership for specific business activities mentioned in the UAE's positive list, which includes more than 1,100 activities across multiple sectors. To encourage foreign investment in Dubai mainland companies, the Dubai Economy has released guidelines outlining the procedures for full ownership. The guidelines invite 100% foreign ownership for various commercial and industrial activities, including general trading, contracting, jewellery, gold, pearls, luxury watches, metal and construction, food, water production, and more.

    Existing mainland companies can reduce the shareholding of their Emirati partner or allow them to resign from the partnership by amending the company documents through legal routes. However, the amendment of the Commercial Companies Law does not change the licensing, incorporation, and renewal procedures for Dubai mainland companies, which can be availed of through existing channels. The amendment also does not alter the legal structures of Dubai mainland companies such as sole establishment, civil company, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).

    While a branch of a foreign company does not require an Emirati agent, this amendment does not apply to commercial agencies, which are solely owned by UAE nationals. This change in law has encouraged massive foreign investment in the UAE, with multiple mainland companies being set up in Dubai, especially due to its attractive tax-free benefits. In the first week alone, 59 Dubai onshore companies were incorporated.

    At SM, we specialize in mainland company formation in Dubai and can assist you in setting up a fully owned Dubai mainland company to benefit from this amendment. Contact us today to be a first mover and take advantage of the benefits that a fully owned Dubai mainland company has to offer.

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