Business Setup in Dubai Mainland


Dubai mainland is the total geographical expanse authorised by the Dubai Economic Department (DED) to all private business entities and their representatives for commercial business operations. Therefore, Dubai mainland is the prime location for foreign businesses to work in their area of interest, for example, luxury items, carmakers, international food chains, and many more.

As per the company formation laws of UAE, only 49% of the total share goes to a foreign investor if the business is on the mainland, and the remaining 51% is held by a UAE national mandatorily.

OBK Business Centre, helps you in registering your business as per your business needs. Contact Us

What are the Main Sectors in Dubai Mainland?

Mainland Dubai is dedicated to offering exciting opportunities to commercial businesses. Entrepreneurs working in the following sectors can operate from mainland :-

  • Education
  • Hospitality
  • Real estate
  • Retail
Business Setup Mainland Dubai

Which are the Mainland Companies that Requires Additional Approval

Additional approval from concerned authorities is required for below listed business activities:

  • Companies in Dubai World Communities (Trakhees)
  • Educational Services
  • Engineering Consultancy
  • Health Care Activities
  • Money exchange
  • RTA Activities
  • Travel and tourism activities

Where are the Mainland Dubai Businesses Located?

They are located within the commercial areas that are covered under the jurisdiction of the Emirati Government. According to the mainland company incorporation law, UAE national has to compulsorily hold at least 51% of the total share in any commercial company, except in the following cases:-

  • Business activities that permit 100% Foreign Ownership
  • Businesses located in Free Zones
  • Partnerships between GCC companies and UAE National
  • Business activities that permit 100% Local Ownership

Which are the Popular Business Locations in Mainland?

  • Business Bay

Business Bay is the central business district and the right location for investors looking for real estate assistance in professional consultants, retail, financial sectors, hospitality ventures, and more. In addition, it is the hub for multiple business set-up centres.


  • Al Quoz

Al Quoz is one of the upcoming commercial centres in Dubai. It is divided into four parts – factories, industrial structures, warehouses, and other locations. Companies with their offices here benefit from warehouse and industrial options, very close to the central city. You will also find malls, shopping centres, and labour accommodation quarters.


  • Al Karama, Bur Dubai, and Deira

All three: Al Karama, Bur Dubai, and Deira, are part of the older Dubai. These are famed for historical sites, old city venues, tourist destinations, real estate, gold souk, and wholesale businesses.

  • Al Qusais

Al Quasis is home to both residential complexes and industrial zones. It is also counted among the most prominent localities to accommodate medical centres and educational institutes.


  • Sheikh Zayed Road

Sheikh Zayed Road is one of the most prominent business localities of mainland Dubai. Building and skyline exhibit the wealth and evolution of Dubai in the last couple of decades. It is home to some of the world's largest corporations, international companies, and businesses.


  • Jumeirah

A coastal zone, Jumeirah accommodates residential areas and lavish business development setups. Showcasing the most luxurious environment, it is known for the real estate and hospitality sectors.


What is the Process for Mainland Business Setup?

The process of incorporating your business in mainland Dubai (UAE) is very simple and straightforward. Below you can find every tiny step that you need to follow to register your business on the mainland:

  • Choose the business activities you want to engage in
  • Find a Local Service Agent for your business (will hold 51% of shares in your business)
  • Search for location based on your suitability, accessibility and cost
  • Obtain initial approval from the Department of Economic Development Dubai
  • Owning an office space is compulsory in Dubai mainland. You will require a registered office address for the issuance of a trade license. Information concerning ownership contract or tenancy can be provided as proof of a registered address.
  • If you meet all the requirements mentioned above, you should apply for a Dubai mainland license. DED is the authorised jurisdiction to issue the mainland license in Dubai, UAE.
  • Submit all the necessary documents associated with company formation to the Commercial registration department and DED.
  • Make payments for the required license.

What are the Documents Required for Business Setup in Dubai Mainland?

Following are some of the necessary documents that you will need::-

  • License Application
  • Attested LLC agreement
  • Required governmental forms
  • Name reservation and initial approval certificates
  • External departments approval Tenancy contract
  • EJARI registration certificate
  • Copy of NOC for partners
  • Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Registration
The documents needed for individual and corporate shareholders vary. The essentials that you need to keep handy are:-

For Individual Shareholder

  • Passport copies of the ex-pat shareholders, managers and directors along with the Visa page and entry stamp (for entry into UAE)
  • No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the employer if the shareholder/manager is on an employment visa of any company in the UAE
  • National ID card copy of the UAE National Partner

For Corporate Shareholder

  • List of shareholders in Arabic
  • Exact Copy of Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum and Articles of Association legalised from the UAE Embassy
  • National ID card copy of the UAE National Partner
  • If the company is a shareholder in proposed LLC, No Objection Certificate from the Free Zone/ Offshore Authority
  • Original Board Resolution for company setup with Power of Attorney notarised and legalised from the UAE Embassy.

Additional Documents for Professional and Public Shareholding Companies

CV and Degree Certificate Documents have to be:-

  • Certified as true copies by the Notary Public in the country of origin
  • Approved by the UAE Embassy in the country of origin
  • Approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE

Advantages of Setting up a Business in Mainland

Following are the benefits that bring investors to Dubai mainland:-

  • Zero Taxation- none in the case of corporate or personal tax
  • Unlimited employment visas
  • Easy recruitment process
  • No yearly auditing
  • No restrictions on recruitment.
  • Low import duty
  • No limits on processing legal documents
  • Limited restrictions on a minimum capital requirement
  • Ease of getting affordable space
  • Flexible rent or lease for office anywhere

What to Consider Before Setting Up a Mainland Company in Dubai?

  • You will need to obtain relevant business licenses, whether it be a commercial license or professional license
  • Minimum 1 director and maximum can be decided by the business owner
  • Cannot use religious words and words like UAE, Dubai, etc.
  • A shareholder must be present in the UAE at least once during the process of the initial approval.

What are the Business Entities in Dubai Mainland?

Dubai provides a range of business entities to the investors:-

  • Branch of Foreign Office
  • Professional Firms
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
  • Representative Office
  • Public Shareholding Companies

What is the Dubai Mainland License?

Companies with mainland licenses (or onshore licenses) are permitted to conduct business within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and outside without restrictions. The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the authorised body to issue these licenses. However, a mainland business based in Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE should have a local partner or service agent mandatorily, according to the company law of UAE.


How Much Does a Mainland Business License Cost?

Before you plan to start a business in Dubai Mainland, it is mandatory to understand the various processes that need to be followed. The costs of the license are another essential factor you cannot ignore. The cost of a business license in Dubai can range from AED 16,000 to AED 50,000, depending on many factors. The total cost of obtaining a business license in Dubai relies on several factors like company sponsor, business location, type of activities to be carried out by the company, number of partners, and the business's legal structure.

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Furthermore, obtaining a business or trade license is mandatory for any business setup in Dubai mainland. It gives an identity to the business setup and ensures liability of business activities conducted. Additionally, investors in Dubai mainland can also take part in profitable projects introduced by the UAE government.

FAQs for Business Setup in Dubai Mainland

What are the Mainland Business Categories in Dubai, UAE?
The six categories are:-

● Sole Proprietorship
● Civil Company
● Limited Liability Company
● Private Shareholding
● Public Shareholding
● Branch of foreign companies
What is the Cost of the Mainland & Free Zone Business Setup in UAE?
The business setup cost for the Mainland depends on the business activity, size of the business, and the location you choose for your office space.
In the case of a Free zone, the cost varies from free zone to free zone and it also depends on the number of visas. So, 100% estimation is not possible, however, you can hire a business setup consultant to know the exact amount.
What is the process of Trade Name Registration in the Mainland?
You will need to apply for the registration of your Trade Name in the related Department of Economics in the emirates you have chosen for the business. The booking takes one day, and it is valid for six months.

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