Setting up a company in Dubai Airport Freezone

Any entrepreneur starting a business here in the UAE needs to at least explore the idea of setting up in a free zone. The benefits are real: 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption. So it’s pretty clear why many of those that do explore the possibility end up taking the plunge and incorporating their own free zone business.

But while many free zones offer these benefits, each one also offers its own particular advantages, which differ slightly from others in the region. So today, in the latest instalment in our weekly series highlighting the specific benefits of individual free zones, we are going to look at Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA).

Located a stone’s throw from Dubai International Airport, DAFZA offers all the benefits you would expect of a UAE free zone, along with comprehensive business services and world-class facilities at affordable rates for businesses of all sizes. DAFZA aims to provide entrepreneurs with the perfect infrastructure to allow them to run a successful business. It is among the most competitive and innovative free zones in the world, with over AED 100bn (USD 27bn) of trade, accounting for just under 10% of Dubai’s total non-oil foreign trade. And it continued to perform strongly in 2016, with net profit growth of 16% and a 44% increase in the total leasable area of multinational companies in the free zone.

So, if you’re sold on the idea of setting up business in one of the region’s free zones and are considering your options, here are six reasons why Dubai Airport Freezone could be the right fit for your business.

1. Visa with a flexi-desk option: Many freelancers and solo entrepreneurs are drawn to DAFZA by its convenient and cost-effective flexi-desk option – affording users flexible access to desk space and other office services, such as conference room hire and reception cover on an ad-hoc basis. One of the many benefits of DAFZA’s flexi-desk offering comes in the shape of visa support. The Dubai Airport Freezone Authority will assist you in obtaining the correct visa to be able to set up your company and work in Dubai whenever you wish to make use of your desk space.

The Dubai Airport Freezone Authority will assist you in obtaining the correct visa to be able to set up your company and work in Dubai whenever you wish to make use of your desk space.

2. Easy setup: Dubai Airport Freezone prides itself on making business easy. And its streamlined business setup process certainly does that. DAFZA supports entrepreneurs closely through each stage of the setup process, from deciding on the type of business you wish to run and choosing the appropriate licence, to fitting and furnishing your office. This ensures you are up and running and able to conduct your business activities in the free zone in no time. 

3. Variety of business types available: One of the biggest selling points of DAFZA is the wide range of business activities that can be set up there. Almost all activities as listed by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) – aside from general trading – are welcome. This includes media, health, transport, cargo, e-commerce and consultancy, to name just six. DAFZA is particularly popular with cargo and import/export businesses, and with those companies providing services to those industries, due to its close proximity to Dubai International Airport.

4. Easy to sponsor staff and dependents: As well as offering first-class business facilities, DAFZA also assists with obtaining the requisite permits and paperwork for dependents and staff of the entrepreneur setting up in the free zone. DAFZA supports business owners in processing all the visas, residence permits and healthcare cards they need, as well as ensuring that all the medical and other documentation needed for company staff is fully completed. Where family members are concerned, DAFZA also helps company owners and managers to obtain visas for any dependents that may require them.

5. Multiple shareholders: Dubai Airport Freezone is not only popular with small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. As DAFZA registration allows for multiple shareholders, businesses of all sizes call it home. Shareholders can be individuals or companies and each free zone business can register up to five. 

6. Location: There’s no doubt that Dubai Airport Freezone Authority’s strategic location is a big part of its pull for entrepreneurs from all over the world. Located in the heart of Dubai – the UAE’s business hub – the free zone is ideally placed to do business with both East and West. It’s no coincidence that Indian and German companies are among the most prominent investors in the free zone. DAFZA’s location next to Dubai International Airport positions it perfectly for any business that would benefit from highly integrated transport links – including import/export, distribution and storage businesses. 

DAFZA’s location next to Dubai International Airport positions it perfectly for any business that would benefit from highly integrated transport links – including import/export, distribution and storage businesses. 

Setting up your free zone business

So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in DAFZA – what next? There are a number of steps that need to be undertaken, some complex, some less so. The first thing to do is decide on your business activity. From there you’ll need to choose 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 a lot on the type of licence you are applying for – whether a trade licence or a service licence – and the kind of business you wish to run. That’s why before taking any of these steps, your first port of call should always be to a company setup expert who will guide you through every part of the setup process, ultimately ensuring the entire process requires little more than a few hours of your time.

About the author: Gemma Kennedy; Sales Manager at Virtuzone
About the author: Gemma Kennedy; Sales Manager at Virtuzone

As Sales Manager 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.