Free zones in the UAE allow 100% ownership of businesses to foreigners and certain other benefits. Free zone company formation has a variety of perks compared to the formation of a company elsewhere. Even though the UAE now allows 100% ownership of businesses in selected sectors outside these free zones. Some types of businesses are still not allowed to have 100% ownership by a foreigner.
Here are a few benefits of free zone company formation:
- 100% foreign ownership, regardless of the type of business.
- Corporate tax waivers.
- Import and export tax exemptions.
- Easier to set up a business as fewer documentations are required.
- Transfer of funds is free of cost.
Free zones in the UAE
Here is a location-based list of some of the free zones in the UAE:
Abu Dhabi Free Zones
- Abu Dhabi Global Markets
Abu Dhabi Global Markets or ADGM for short is one of the leading free zones in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. It promotes innovation through competition and collaboration. It is located in ADGM Square, Al Maryah Island. ADGM provides a wide range of banking services to businesses in its free zone.
- Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone
The Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) and Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone (KPIZ) are both ports that play a crucial part in the economy of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. These have the best free zones in the UAE for manufacturing and logistics businesses.
- Masdar City Free Zone
Located near Abu Dhabi International Airport, Masdar City Free Zone is a hub for foreign entrepreneurs. They offer perks like 100% tax-free income, no import tariffs, zero currency restrictions, free transfer of capital, and much more. Businesses permitted here are community services, property development services, healthcare services, oil and gas services, and much more.
TwoFour54 free zone is located in Sheikh Zayed Street in Abu Dhabi. It mainly caters to media and production companies. Many famous media companies like CNN, Cartoon Network Studios, Hollywood, and Bollywood have done their productions here. The TwoFour54 promotes creative collaboration in its community.
Dubai Free Zones
- Dubai Airport Free zone Authority
The Dubai Airport Free zone Authority or DAFZA is one of the most modern and progressive free zones in the UAE. It already houses over 1600 companies. As it is incorporated with Dubai International Airport, it provides benefits no other free zones can provide. Businesses here get rapid clearance and fast paperwork processing from the airport.
- Dubai Internet City
Dubai Internet City, or DIC for short, is the largest ICT infrastructure in the Middle East. Many of the world’s biggest ICT companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Canon, Dell, and more are established here. Needless to say, DIC provides remarkable networking opportunities to startups looking to set up business here. They also offer zero income or corporation tax for 50 years after company formation.
- Dubai International Financial Centre
As the name suggests, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an international hub for businesses in the financial sector. Even if you are not looking to start a business here, the DIFC is always a great source of financial help. It provides a worldwide network of double taxation treaties. New startups here get a 50-year tax exemption on all income and profits.
- Dubai Healthcare City
Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is a free zone for services in the health and wellness sector. It welcomes both corporations and individuals. It has licensed professionals of many different specialties from over 90 countries. DHCC also houses Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Services, making it a destination for students as well.
Ajman Free Zones
- Ajman Free Zone
Ajman Free Zone provides a versatile choice of sectors for entrepreneurs looking to set up business here. It is a choice destination for retailers as they provide unlimited usage of its warehouse and seaport space. It also provides easy access to low-cost labor.
- Ajman Media City Free Zone
Ajman Media City Free Zone provides special packages for media and creative businesses. It is incorporated with Ajman Free Zone, so they receive their benefits as well. They provide quick and easy licensing to media companies.
Fujairah Free Zones
- Fujairah Free Zone
Companies that need access to the Arabian Gulf will find Fujairah Free Zone very attractive. It is situated on the UAE’s East Coast. It has access to the Indian Ocean as well. It provides a connection to the UAE’s market as well as neighboring markets.
- International Free Zone Authority
The International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) is one of its kind in the UAE. This is because it only focuses on B2B companies. It offers warehouse and retail benefits for B2B businesses looking to set up shop here.
Ras Al Khaimah Free Zones
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone
The Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is situated in a strategic location that connects investors in different regions to the UAE. It looks after clients of other free zones as well. It provides affordable industrial land and warehouses.
- Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone
Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone or RAK FTZ for short is an hour away from Dubai. Its location makes it more affordable compared to other states in the UAE. It also provides the freedom to bring in talent and materials from all over the world.
Sharjah Free Zones
- Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone
Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone is the world’s first free zone that entirely caters to the publishing and printing industry. It is conveniently located near the Sharjah seaports. The location helps make export and import easier.
- Sharjah Airport International Free Zone
The Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF ZONE) attracts businesses that require more labor. This is because they offer a big workforce and labor accommodation. They also offer land on lease and temporary warehouses.
Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone
Umm Al Quwain has only one free zone known as the Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone (UAQFTZ). Its main focus is to help SMEs and startups grow. They offer incentives and affordable spaces to help new free zone company formations kick-off.