How to set up a company in Sharjah Media City Free Zone (Shams)

The UAE’s free zones serve up a host of benefits – 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption, to name just a few.

It is these eye-catching perks that make free zones such an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs and business owners around the world. However, the advantages of doing business in a free zone don’t end there. On top of these headline benefits, each free zone has its own unique features which differ slightly from others in the region.

Take Sharjah Media City Free Zone (Shams) for example.

As well as the benefits offered above, Shams also boasts world-class facilities and a vibrant business community that’s hard to find anywhere else. Located in Sharjah, a cultural leader within the UAE, Shams prides itself on being a hub for the media, trading and creative industries – and offers a number of specialised business services and facilities to help its inhabitants grow both locally and internationally.

Located in Sharjah, a cultural leader within the UAE, Shams prides itself on being a hub for the media, trading and creative industries.

Why set up in Shams?

If the UAE’s free zones have caught your eye but you’re still considering your options, below is everything you need to know to help you decide if Shams company setup is right for you.

1. Straightforward setup: Sharjah Media City’s incredibly straightforward two-step setup process makes it hugely popular with businesses of all sizes. First you must meet with Shams officials to make your initial licence application – the free zone issues Trading, Industrial, Service and Holding licences. Once licensed, you’re then required to sign the official memorandum and submit passport copy photos. As is often the case with official documents, it’s vital that your passport photos meet the UAE’s immigration criteria – coloured shirt against a white background; no glasses, visible piercings or jewellery; no teeth showing or hair covering the face. Once you have completed these two steps, you’re ready to trade.

2. Open to a broad range of business activities: While its name might suggest a selective entrance policy, Shams is open to a broad range of business activities – over 200 in fact, including bookkeeping, HR, plumbing, publishing, hospitality and wholesale. In fact, the free zone is not dominated by media companies at all, with many of its inhabitants doing business in trading activities. Shams is also home to a number of retailers, events and e-commerce companies, and management consultancies.

3. Flexible office options: As Shams is a relatively new free zone, it currently only offers flexi-desk packages – these allow entrepreneurs use of the free zone’s state-of-the-art business facilities on an ad-hoc basis. This will not always be the case, however. A free zone city is currently under construction and when complete it will feature a range of physical office spaces as well as studios, showrooms and other creative units. The finished project will also include a residential boulevard, community plaza and a series of restaurants, shops and hotels.

4. Set up with multiple shareholders: While you have the option of applying for a flexi-desk package alone at Shams, you certainly don’t have to. It is possible to establish your business with multiple shareholders – up to a maximum of 50 – which can be either individuals, corporate entities or a combination of the two.

5. Apply for multiple visas: Sharjah Media City’s flexible visa options make it easy for solo entrepreneurs and beyond. Currently under the free zone’s flexi-desk package it is possible to apply for up to six visas, for you, and your shareholders or employees.

6. Easy to sponsor dependants: As well as applying for employee visas, 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 this process is usually slightly easier for men than women, so 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 to ensure that before starting an application, both you and those you are hoping to sponsor meet the entry criteria.

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.

7. Easy to arrange your corporate bank account: Once you’ve received your licence and established your business in Shams, you’re ready to set up your corporate bank account. The application process is quick and simple. Free zone 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 on your own.

Setting up in Sharjah Media City

So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in Sharjah Media City – what next?

There are a number of steps that need to be undertaken, some complex, some less so. Usually the first thing to do is choose your business activity. From here you’ll need to 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 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 process, ultimately ensuring the entire application requires little more than a few hours of your time.

Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to info@vz.ae, or click here.

About the author: Gemma Kennedy, Head of Sales, Virtuzone.
About the author: Gemma Kennedy, Head of Sales, Virtuzone.

As Head of Sales at Virtuzone, Gemma oversees the Company Formation Specialist team, which is responsible for consulting prospective clients interested in setting up a UAE free zone company. Gemma and her team provide all necessary and accurate guidance on the best path to UAE company setup, always delivered on a case-by-case basis for UAE entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their startup businesses. Gemma has extensive sales experience, having worked as a product representative for brands such as Tefal and Vidal Sassoon across New South Wales, Australia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Employment Relations, History and (Hons) Politics at the University of Wollongong Australia, a unique educational mix which empowers her with a socio-political outlook in dealing with a multicultural workforce and client base.