Dubai has long caught attention due to its favourable conditions for entrepreneurs looking to make it big – but its free zones are truly the jewel in the city’s crown. It’s easy to see why. Benefits like 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of capital, zero income and corporate tax, plus no tax on imports and exports will make even the most hardened business people take a second glance.
Scratch the surface a little more, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that these benefits are only the beginning. Each of the UAE’s free zones also offer a set of distinct advantages that differ from one to the next. Take Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSOA) which, along with the headline benefits listed above, also affords business owners a host of support services and an affordable, fast and straightforward setup process.
Setting up in Dubai Silicon Oasis
DSOA Free Zone’s ideal location in the heart of Dubai puts it within easy reach of the booming markets of the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. So if this sounds like the ideal environment to launch your next business then below is everything you need to know to get started.
DSOA Free Zone’s ideal location in the heart of Dubai puts it within easy reach of the booming markets of the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
1. Quick, easy and affordable setup: A major factor behind the popularity of DSOA is its seamless setup service. The free zone offers fast-track business licencing with the entire application process taking no more than seven days – licence and lease agreements are usually issued within just two days of submitting your legal documents and payment. As for the exact documents you’ll need, DSOA usually require a completed application form, letter of intent, shareholder passport copies, a no objection certificate (NOC for UAE residents only), a bank statement, and a business plan. Licences start from just AED 18,700.
2. Open to wide range of business and licence types: Although Dubai Silicon Oasis is geared largely towards the IT sector, and describes itself as helping to ‘facilitate and promote modern technology based industries’ – the free zone is open to a wide variety of business types. DSOA issues service, trade and industrial licences to companies from all Department of Economic Development (DED) listed industries, plus IT. This puts organisations from sectors as diverse as technology, construction and agriculture under one roof – creating perfect conditions for collaboration and skill-sharing from one field to another.
3. Flexible setup and office options: While taking some form of office or desk space is a mandatory requirement, Dubai Silicon Oasis offers a broad range of setup options so you won’t feel tied down. The free zone’s flexi-desk package allows entrepreneurs use of its state-of-the art business facilities on an ad-hoc basis and comes with a maximum of three visas. As for more permanent premises, there is plenty on offer – from offices to warehouse space and open land for development.
4. Plenty of visa options: As well as the flexi-desk package allowing for three visas, taking office or warehouse space in DSOA also enables you to set up with multiple visas. The only caveat being the more visas you wish to apply for, the more space you’ll be required to take – the rule is one visa for every nine sq ft of office or warehouse space.
5. Sponsor dependants for their visas: As well as applying for plenty of visas for your employees, it’s also very straightforward to sponsor your dependants for their visa applications as well. Whether you require a visa for a spouse, child, maid or driver, the process is four straightforward stages: entry permit, status adjustment, a medical fitness test, then Emirates ID registration and visa stamping. Keep in mind, however, that the sponsoring process is usually slightly easier for men than women. Given this is such an important procedure it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert in setting up UAE free zone businesses – to ensure that before starting an application, both you and those you are hoping to sponsor meet the entry criteria.
6. Set up with multiple shareholders: Setting up a free zone establishment in DSOA allows you to go it alone and maintain sole control of your business. If, however, you wish to set up with a partner – or partners – you also have that option. For that, Dubai Silicon Oasis allows you to establish a free zone company (as opposed to a free zone establishment) with anywhere between two and five shareholders – these can be either individuals, corporate entities or a combination of the two.
7. Auditing and book keeping requirements: DSOA’s robust auditing and bookkeeping requirements make it one of the most respected free zones among banks and other professional institutions. However, while auditing and bookkeeping is mandatory, that’s not to say it’s excessive. All businesses registered in the free zone must simply submit yearly books and undergo an annual audit.
DSOA’s robust auditing and book keeping requirements make it one of the most respected free zones among banks and other professional institutions.
8. Low share capital requirements: To set up in Dubai Silicon Oasis you simply need to deposit AED 10,000 paid upfront in share capital. This low barrier to entry – at around USD 2,700 – is yet another reason why DSOA is so popular with first-time entrepreneurs.
9. Easy to arrange your corporate bank account: Once you’ve received your licence and established your business in Dubai Silicon Oasis, you’re ready to set up your corporate bank account. The application process is quick and simple. DSOA staff can advise on the best bank to suit your needs – and can even arrange meetings in-branch for you, should you wish. A company formation specialist can also provide the same service – or alternatively, you’re welcome to approach any local or international bank by your own volition.
10. Live and work in tranquil surroundings: Dubai Silicon Oasis prides itself on being an ‘integrated city within a city’ – meaning you can work here and live here too. As well as state-of-the-art office and business support services, DSOA also offers a wide range of residences for lease or purchase – from luxury villas to stylish apartments. The free zone is also home to everything you need from a local community, including shops, restaurants and a number of other education, service and leisure facilities – making it the ideal place to both live and work in the heart of Dubai.
Dubai Silicon Oasis prides itself on being an ‘integrated city within a city’ – meaning you can work here and live here too.
Sold on DSOA?
So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in Dubai Silicon Oasis – 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.