There are very few entrepreneurs in the UAE who haven’t at least considered setting up in one of the country’s free zones. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs from overseas – and it’s not difficult to see the reasons behind this. With 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption on offer, free zones make for an attractive proposition.
But these are just the headline benefits. Each individual free zone also offers a host of advantages that differ from others in the region.
One such free zone is Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Setting up in Dubai World Trade Centre
The DWTC Free Zone offers a lot, spanning locations within the iconic Dubai World Trade Centre and the adjoining Dubai Trade Centre District, and soon reaching the (under construction) Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali. So let’s look at everything you need to know when it comes to deciding whether Dubai World Trade Centre company setup is right for you.
Get a visa with flexi-desk: While Dubai World Trade Centre Free Zone is home to a large number of multinational corporations, it’s also very popular with smaller businesses – and its flexi-desk package is a big reason. Flexi-desk is perfect for entrepreneurs who don’t want to commit to permanent physical office space, but still require the ad-hoc use of office equipment and facilities such as meeting rooms. But the key benefit here is that with DWTC’s flexi-desk package you can apply for multiple visas.
Flexi-desk is perfect for entrepreneurs who don’t want to commit to permanent physical office space, but still require the ad-hoc use of office equipment and facilities such as meeting rooms.
No need to commit to office space: For those who require more flexibility than a flexi-desk, Dubai World Trade Centre allows you to set up shop without committing to any office space at all – simply register your business in the free zone and work from wherever you wish. If an office is a requirement however, DWTC has you covered here as well. Entrepreneurs have the option of taking permanent office space in DWTC’s business centre – currently located in Sheikh Rashid Tower but soon to move to brand new facilities in the coming months.
Straightforward and affordable setup: Whatever type of business you wish to form, Dubai World Trade Centre company setup is fast, simple and affordable. Starting a Free Zone Establishment (FZE), a Free Zone Company (FZCO) or a branch of an existing business in DWTC can be very reasonable. In fact, for the flexi-desk option it may be as low as AED 41,000. As for the process, all is taken care of through the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) special project counter and therefore follows the standard DED company formation process.
No requirement for NOC from a local sponsor: Another reason why Dubai World Trade Centre Free Zone appeals to smaller businesses is that it does not require entrepreneurs to provide a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from a current employer. This is ideal for first time entrepreneurs wishing to set up side businesses within the free zone while still employed.
A variety of business types available: Perhaps the biggest reason why DWTC is one of the UAE’s most bustling business hubs is that it is open to such a wide variety of businesses. Entrepreneurs wishing to set up here can select any DED listed business activity – that’s a choice of over 2,000 from industries as diverse as agriculture, construction and finance.
Share capital requirements: To set up in Dubai World Trade Centre Free Zone you simply deposit AED 300,000 in paid upfront share capital and provide proof that you have done so. While this is certainly a barrier for some, it’s a relatively small cost for setting up in such a prestigious location. If you wish to set up a branch of an existing company, no share capital is required.
No auditing or book keeping required: Anything that can lighten the administrative burden can only be a good thing. Fortunately, Dubai World Trade Centre is on hand to help. Not only is there no annual audit for DWTC businesses but there’s also no ongoing book keeping requirements.
Easy to arrange your corporate bank account: Another way DWTC can help to reduce admin is by assisting with the opening of your corporate bank account. As well as advising you on the best banks to suit your needs, Dubai World Trade Centre staff can also arrange meetings with your chosen financial institutions should you so wish.
Easy to sponsor dependants: As well as making it easy to apply for your own visa, it’s also straightforward for entrepreneurs in Dubai World Trade Centre to sponsor dependants for their residence visas as well. Whether you wish to sponsor a maid, driver or family member, the process is relatively easy – entry permit, status adjustment, medical fitness test, then Emirates ID registration and visa stamping. As this is such an important process, it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert in setting up UAE free zone businesses. This ensures that before you start an application, both you and those you’re hoping to sponsor meet all of the entry criteria.
Set up with multiple shareholders: Another major draw for large businesses toward Dubai World Trade Centre is that it allows for setup with multiple shareholders – which can be individuals, corporate entities or a combination of the two. Entrepreneurs wishing to set up such a business simply need to register a Free Zone Company.
Another major draw for large businesses toward Dubai World Trade Centre is that it allows for setup with multiple shareholders – which can be individuals, corporate entities or a combination of the two.
World class location and facilities: Dubai World Trade Centre’s strategic location is yet another factor behind its tremendous popularity. Its transport links include the Dubai Metro and close proximity to Al Maktoum International Airport. Plus, at the heart of its complex is the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre making DWTC the perfect home for entrepreneurs looking to network, collaborate and engage with likeminded professionals from around the world.
Competitive edge: Dubai World Trade Centre’s location, coupled with its low setup costs can offer businesses a real competitive edge. At the heart of Dubai’s financial district, next door to Dubai International Financial Centre, DWTC offers businesses a prestigious office address without the sky-high costs usually associated with the area.
Setting up in a UAE free zone
So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in Dubai World Trade Centre – what next? There are a number of steps that need to be undertaken, some complex, some less so. The first thing to do is choose your business activity. From here you can decide on your company name, complete and file your registration paperwork with the relevant authorities, open a bank account, and apply for any visas that may be required.
However, the specifics of this process will depend largely on the type of licence you are applying for and the kind of business you wish to run. That’s why before starting any of these steps, the first port of call should always be to a company setup expert who will guide you through every part of the application, ultimately ensuring the entire process requires little more than a few hours of your time.