Dubai, and by extension, The UAE has over the past couple of decades emerged as one of the biggest power blocks to look out for in the world. Ever since the oil and natural gas reserves of the country were discovered, it became a major hub for business, which led to an incredible cycle of modernism and development.
Today, the UAE is a leading shopping, commercial, and tourist destination in the world with Dubai being the central figurehead in all of these departments, standing as a citing example of how transformation is possible with sheer resources and a willingness to make change.
Speaking of being willing to make changes, Dubai also happens to be an incredibly lucrative place to start your business. A dream place for entrepreneurs not only around the country and the entire Middle East, but it attracts numerous global citizens to its shores to begin a new business venture. One of the terms that you might have come across here is the free zone area and how it is the most viable area of business.
But what exactly does this free zone term mean? Why is it so popular among entrepreneurs? What are some of the best free zone companies in Dubai? We uncover the answers to these as we present to you a comprehensive guide to the free zone area in Dubai.
What is a Free Zone Area?
A free zone area, also often known as a free zone authority or free trade zone, refers to an economic areathat is ruled by its own specific regulations, which do not apply to businesses outside the zone. These areas are free from various laws, regulations, and duties that hinder the flourishment of various trades, thereby cementing themselves as the perfect platforms for supporting economic activities.
These areas were set up to promote global businesses and allow companies to have complete foreign ownership while offering their own preferential taxes and rates. The liberty found in the free zone areas makes company formation an extremely easy process. Clubbed with the fact that they incur strong incentives, it is no wonder why their popularity is sky-high among business minds.
This step by the UAE government to set up the free zones has diversified the economy and has grabbed the attention of skilled foreign investors in the city where they have now established their businesses under the umbrella of an evolving ecosystem.
With dozens of free zone areas in Dubai, you should make sure you are well-researched in deciding which one will suit your business model. This is an absolute mandatory aspect to keep in mind before you start the process of your company formation in the free zone areas.
The Perks of Operating Businesses in a Free Zone Area
The mere intention of opening the free zone is self-explanatory as to why operating businesses in the area is lucrative. But let us take a deeper look into each of the benefits that the free zones offer that make them so attractive to foreign investors.
Without a doubt, the biggest USP that attracts the attention of investors to set up their businesses in the free zone of Dubai is its tax policy. Because the free zones adopt a new tax policy of their own, you are exempted from various types of taxes including customs, corporate, and VATs.
Investing in a business in the free zone of Dubai will ensure that they enjoy 100% foreign ownership without having to look for a local service agent or a national sponsor for forming their company.
The process of forming a company in the free zone is a hassle-free one that will save you a fortune of money. There are various free zone authorities with whom you can complete the setup procedure of your company remotely, and before you realize your company will be set in motion.
Free zones allow companies to repatriate 100% of their profits to their home country. As a result, this allows entrepreneurs to transfer all of their capital to their home country without fulfilling any requirements.
The location of the free zones allows a company to have an incredible strategic benefit with proximity to flourishing fellow businesses and access to world-class facilities that contribute to the thriving of their businesses.
No Need for Physical Offices
One major challenge that people face while setting up their business is the need to buy or rent a space for their office. You will be glad to know that free zone companies can be run virtually without the need for physical office space.
Access to Global Markets
Being the multi-national community that Dubai is, the location of the free zones provides ample opportunities for you to increase your network by connecting with an international business community, thereby giving you more chances to grow and let your business be known.
The registration process for the free zone companies is extremely easy to execute wherein you can send all the necessary documents to the free zone authorities from the comfort of your home without physically having to be present for the submission.
No Currency Restrictions
Due to its global nature, there are no restrictions on the currency of usage for free zone companies in Dubai, thereby giving more flexibility to international companies and investors to partake seamlessly in business operations.
The Top Free Zone Companies in Dubai
The free zone areas of Dubai have seen the emergence of some pretty big powerhouses owing to the flexible opportunities provided to them. They have proven time and again why this is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to start their businesses since the jurisdictions of the free zone area are designed to boost their businesses and guide them in their entrepreneurial journey.
Here are some of the most successful free zone companies that have carved a name for themselves in the country and worldwide.
International Free Zone Authority (IFZA)
Despite being relatively new to the scene, IFZA has established itself as a major powerhouse by serving as a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that is focused on delivering customer satisfaction by providing effective solutions for company formations.
Capitalizing on Dubai’s dynamic business environment that binds the multinational workforce and contemporary infrastructure, IFZA helps facilitate business setup solutions through its extensive network of business communities and professional partners. Streamlining the complex process of incorporating companies, it helps entrepreneurs reach their dream business destinations.
It also offers a wide range of licenses to entrepreneurs including commercial, service, consulting, e-commerce, and trading, empowering them to seamlessly operate their businesses.
Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)
Commencing its operation in 1985 with 19 companies, JAFZA has come a long way in the past four decades, now facilitating an ecosystem that offers access to more than 3.5 billion people around the world. Their success has been formed with their vision of connecting industrial parks and economic zones to enable international business.
Being the world’s flagship free zone, JAFZA now has more than 8,700 businesses running under it with over 100 of them being listed in the Fortune Global 500 companies list. They have set themselves up as the perfect ground for global trade that helps in multiplying the profit and cutting down the expenses for businesses.
By providing contemporary solutions and unparalleled growth opportunities, JAFZA has enabled countless entrepreneurs to successfully operate their businesses both locally and internationally. The stats say for themselves when you attract businesses from more than 140 countries and are solely responsible for 23.9% of Dubai’s Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs)
Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZ)
Founded in 1996 through a strategic decision by the Government of Dubai to turn the Emirate into a more investment-driven economy, DAFZ serves as the ideal gateway to the offerings of not only the UAE but the entire Middle East while also acting as a bridge of connection to the Indian Subcontinent, Europe, and the Far East.
With over 2,500 businesses registered under it, DAFZ covers over 20 different sectors with more than 20,000 working personnel, which speaks volumes about their diversity. The tax-free ecosystem along with the top-notch modern facilities provided by it allows entrepreneurs to benefit from its business-driven regulatory environment.
For setting up your business in DAFZ, all you need to do is select the type of flexible license, choose among the two types of company setups they offer, and select your space. Irrespective of whether you are already an established firm or an entrepreneur waiting for their start-up to gear into action, DAFZ will offer its free guidance to investors of every background to help them in their business’s growth strategy.
Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC)
The Government of the UAE mandated DHCC to serve the demand for a patient-centered healthcare department and bring tourists to the Emirates for medical treatments. By employing a multitude of strategic threads, DHCC provides services in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, medical education, health research, medicine, medical equipment, and other allied wellness support.
Founded in 2002, DHCC is overseen by the Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA). It operates its business through its four major divisions – Healthcare, Investment, Education and Research, and Regulatory, thereby contributing in also turning Dubai into a leading health and wellness destination.
Always striving to build affordable solutions for advanced clinics and laboratory, the healthcare facilities of DHCC thrives with its extensive network of businesses that range from consultancies to hospitality and retail outlets.
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
DMCC is often ranked among the world’s fastest as well as most interconnected free zones, and the proof is in the pudding. From dishing out top business performance services to establishing world-class properties, DMCC is an example of an effervescent dynamic community that is a dream place to work and live in.
Established in 2002, this government entity has been enhancing commodity trade flows through Dubai and continues to ensure that Dubai serves as the international gateway to the Middle East for business operations in a diversified range of commodities.
Their efforts in promoting the Emirate as a thriving economy to drive perennial economic development have made them a trusted source for budding as well as established business minds to continually invest in them to varying degrees of success.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
Functioning as a financial hub for companies across the Middle East, African, and South Asia (MEASA) markets, the DIFC was founded in 2004 and has since then turned out to be one of the most prominent independent free zones of Dubai. It allows investors to take complete ownership of the businesses without having to require a local partner.
Hailed as the future of finance, DIFC is the perfect location for financial setups and offers top-notch retail, dining, and living. For over two decades, it has been successfully facilitating trade and enabling investment flows across MEASA. With around $ 8 trillion nominal GDP from 72 countries, it connects the fastest-growing markets in the MEASA region.
The robust legal structure of DIFC allows its investors to operate on a safe platform, making it a reliable source to kick-start one’s entrepreneurship journey. Even though banking and finance primarily make up the core of DIFC’s business, several non-financial businesses are run in this region with equal success as well.
Dubai Media City (DMC)
Established at the turn of the new millennium in 2000, DMC has made path-breaking changes in transforming the media landscape of the country and has, in the process, set itself up as one of the most credible communities for hosting both local and international media brands.
Empowering Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, start-ups, as well as freelancers by aiding them to co-exist within a single community, DMC has been instrumental in turning Dubai into the most viable media market in the Arab world.
For entrepreneurs who want to make a name for themselves with strategic business maneuvering in a liberated environment, DMC serves as the ideal environment for boosting creativity and innovation.
Dubai Production City (DPC)
Formerly known as the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), DPC was founded in 2003 with the idea of catering to the media production companies in Dubai. Ever since its establishment, it has created a global ecosystem for media printing, publishing, packaging, and production.
The incredible residential as well as retail development that it has been a part of has resulted in the creation of a vibrant community under the umbrella of a state-of-the-art infrastructure. It has been hailed as a pioneer for stimulating innovative methods for growth in media production and has become one of the biggest faces of media in the country.
With residential community, retail and dining sectors, fitness avenues, healthcare, hotels, and media outlets in its wingspan, the business, residential, and retail lifestyle options offered by DPC have created a diverse yet unified environment to thrive.
Dubai Internet City (DIC)
Serving as the tech hub of the country, DIC leads with innovation in implementing the operations in its community that comprises of some of the most brilliant minds in technology from around the globe. Understanding the need for personalized touches, DIC takes on a tailored approach to every business in its region that best speaks to its forte.
Enabling innovative minds to operate their skills in the perfect commercial space through a wide range of services, events, and retail, you will find a vast network of facilities and experiences in DIC that will aid in the growth of your business.
There is no denying that Dubai is a global standard for quality lifestyle and DIC focuses on this aspect for attracting entrepreneurs to this city for a modernistic look to accelerate the technological growth of their businesses.
Dubai Design District (d3)
Billed as the region’s first and largest design district, d3 brings together design, art, and fashion under a single umbrella to allow creative and smart entrepreneurs in these fields to scout endless opportunities through the region’s unique offerings to take their businesses to new heights.
Always encouraging creative minds to rethink the regular, the interactive ecosystem of d3 has played a monumental role in driving the creative forces of designers and artists to shape the future of design, art, and fashion.
Serving as a platform for bringing regional and international talent to a wider global audience, d3 incubates innovative ideas and helps individuals and businesses turn them into reality. A dream place for forming and giving life to creative ideas, d3 has exponentially empowered the cultural connections of regional and international designs.
The opportunities provided by the free zone companies in Dubai are unparalleled and make them viable and profitable business platforms. With trailblazing financial intercessions, provision to high-quality telecommunication, access to futuristic industrial infrastructure, and a seamless e-governance system, it is apparent why the companies in this zone are so prone to success.
These aforementioned companies have set path-breaking examples of how to make the most of the opportunities available to them. They make conscious decisions regarding basking on the resources to take their companies to the zenith of success. They prove why, if you are an investor, and are looking to set up a business open to international frontiers, there is no better place than the free zones of Dubai.