Where to look for detailed and reliable information on small biz set up solutions?
The UAE has approx. 35+ active Free Zones
Most of which are centered in Dubai, some in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates. Yet, many investors find Dubai or the capital Abu Dhabi too costly to start out with and look for more budget-friendly solutions. The Northern Emirates have been successfully filling this gap and have become quite competitive over the last 10 years. They all offer SME small package solutions and fast set up procedures.
Small Biz Packages
Northern Emirates Free Zones are the only Free Zones that offer cost-effective SME Flexi and Smart-Office Business Set up solution packages including full business license, 3-year residence visa for the investor (these days mostly only 2 years residence visa are given for employees in majority of Free Zones) and the option to open a corporate or SME bank account. This minimal business set up has become very attractive for small companies, freelancers and investors who just want to test the waters without spending a huge budget upfront. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi most (if not all) Free Zone require the investor to take up office or warehouse space in order to obtain a license from the respective authorities.
Peculiarities of the Market
One of the many interesting aspects about the UAE business environment is the experience that people make when they ask different individuals about the same subject. To the new-bee it is often quite puzzling to get so many diametrically opposed answers, opinions and often downright wrong or misleading information. Small investors who wish to do a cost-effective set up sometimes rely on information and advice obtained from friends or people who do not necessarily specialize in this area of business and only provide “hear-say” information. This can lead to a number of fatally wrong and expensive investment decisions or just total confusion.
When you contract the set up work out, you need to check the service providers in the market very carefully. Quite a number of them specialize only in a limited spectrum of set ups (for example they specifically deal only with certain free zones or are more specialized on mainland set ups). As with any market you find various levels of ethical business conduct ranging from totally transparent, professional from A-Z, diligent and efficient to the lesser degrees of honest business conduct. The aspiring entrepreneur is therefore advised to seek as much relevant information from government authorities directly or study information given in investment and set up guides such as the one we have put together, or consider hiring a seasoned and professional consultant for an initial consultation such as Global Office.
For those who are not yet familiar with the sometimes peculiar ways of doing business in this part of the world and also do not want to outsource the whole process of setting up to a consulting company, you need to be prepared to offset tight budgets with patience, persistence and time. For any kind of set up quite a bit of paper and legwork has to be done.
Easy to Follow Set up Guide for the Small Investor
In our E-Guide (PDF format for immediate download) you will find information on new and existing free zones in UAE, their small biz packages, detailed information on the document process, visa requirements and respective application process.
Once you go through this practical guide you have a clear idea, where you may want to set up your business with pros and cons. With this information you can handle the entire company formation process on your own.