If you’re an entrepreneur looking to set up in the UAE, the chances are you’ll have at least considered doing so in one of the country’s free zones. Offering 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption – there are plenty of reasons why they tend to catch the eye.
But while these are the headline-grabbing advantages of setting up in all free zones, there are many more unique advantages depending on the specific one you choose.
One particular free zone that’s garnering plenty of attention right now is Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) – and it’s not hard to see why. Dubai’s healthcare sector is booming – expected to be worth an estimated USD 28bn (AED 103bn) by 2021, according to a recent report by MENA Research Partners. DHCC Free Zone itself is home to two hospitals, 90 outpatient medical centres and diagnostic labs, plus over 2,000 licensed medical professionals – so it’s the perfect home for entrepreneurs looking to make their mark and grab a slice of this fast-growing market.
Dubai’s healthcare sector is booming – expected to be worth an estimated USD 28bn (AED 103bn) by 2021, according to a recent report by MENA Research Partners.
Setting up a company in Dubai Healthcare City
Occupying over four million square feet in the heart of Dubai, DHCC is hugely popular with businesses across the full spectrum of healthcare – from medical and wellness to consultancy, R&D and education. If you work in these fields – or any others related to healthcare – and you’re considering setting up a company in Dubai Healthcare City, here’s everything you need to know before you get started.
1. Straightforward setup: Businesses in the healthcare and related industries find the DHCC to be a perfect fit as, along with its world-class medical environment and facilities, the free zone also offers quick and easy company setup with little bureaucracy. As you are required to lease premises in DHCC, the first step is to reserve your chosen unit. The exact size and type of unit required will depend on the nature of your business, but with a host of spaces available from around AED 185 per sq ft, there is bound to be a space that fits your needs. Once your reservation agreement is signed, you can then submit your initial application to establish your business in DHCC, followed by your application for a commercial licence. You may also be required to apply for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Dubai Health Authority, though this will depend on your chosen business activity. Once all is approved, you can sign your lease agreement and get started.
2. Regulatory requirements: At first glance, the list of laws and regulations that businesses in DHCC must comply with – Medical Liability Regulation, Health Data Protection Regulation and so on – may seem daunting. However, such regulations are in fact standard practice and any company already working in the healthcare industries is likely already compliant.
3. Work among the best: Many entrepreneurs choose to set up in Dubai Healthcare City to work among the best in the industry. DHCC’s world-class facilities and enviable location attract medical professionals and healthcare companies from around the world – including Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies with over 47,500 employees globally. DHCC is also home to the first overseas branch of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the oldest and one of the largest ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research centres in the world.
4. Visa options: Like many of Dubai’s free zones, DHCC allows for company formation with multiple visas. There’s no upper limit on the number you can apply for, however this is linked to the size of your office and the nature of your business – the average rule of thumb is 100-150 sq ft of space per visa.
5. Easily sponsor dependants: As well as making it easy to apply for visas for you and your employees, by registering your business in DHCC, you’ll also be able to sponsor dependants for their visas. Whether you wish to sponsor a spouse, child or domestic staff – provided you meet the salary requirements and have enough space to house each dependant – 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 the entry criteria.
6. Set up with multiple shareholders: As well as its flexible visa options, there’s another reason for Dubai Healthcare City’s popularity with large, multinational business: it allows for company setup with up to 50 shareholders. These can be individuals, corporate entities or a combination of the two.
As well as its flexible visa options, there’s another reason for Dubai Healthcare City’s popularity with large, multinational business: it allows for company setup with up to 50 shareholders.
7. Assistance with opening your corporate bank account: When setting up a company in Dubai Healthcare City, you’ll even get help opening your corporate bank account. As well as advising you on the most appropriate bank to suit your needs, DHCC will set up meetings with your chosen financial institutions should you so wish.
Nurse your startup to rude health in DHCC
So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in Dubai Healthcare City – 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 license 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.