In recent years, the UAE has bloomed as a hotbed for business, investment and entrepreneurialism. According to the World Investment Report 2022, FDI investment in the region amounted to USD 20.667 billion. The Global Entrepreneurship Index named the UAE the best place to start a new business in 2022 too.
Government policies and reforms, entrepreneurial finance and a welcoming business environment have undoubtedly played a significant role in this boom. But one of the biggest and often overlooked motivators for success has been the wide availability of business setup options available across the region. From free zones to mainland ventures and zero-visa packages to residency bundles, the UAE’s dynamic approach makes it easy for investors to thrive.
But with so many options available, which should you choose?
At Creative Zone, we know that every case is unique. To help give you a better understanding of the options available to you, we will explore the nine most common types of investor profiles and outline the best business setup options for each scenario.
Profile 1: The Traditionalist
An investor looking to do business within the UAE. They plan to set up a permanent office with staff and will probably reside in the country for all or part of the year.
Best suited to: Mainland business setup
Reasons: UAE mainland businesses are allowed to trade with other mainland businesses, free zones and businesses outside of the UAE, making it the best option for investors looking to trade within the region. Investors must be present in the country while setting up the company and registered at a physical address, such as an office or co-working space. For the Traditionalist, this won’t be a problem.
Profile 2: The Global Go-getter
An investor who wants to expand their company’s existing operations into foreign markets by setting up a branch of their international business in the UAE, ideally on the mainland.
Best suited to: An international corporation
Reasons: International corporation is the most popular way for foreign companies to expand in the UAE while retaining 100% foreign ownership. The branch office is an extension of the parent company and not a legal entity, so the parent company remains responsible for any liabilities of the branch office.
Profile 3: The Enterprising Entrepreneur
A UAE-based entrepreneur looking to do business within the UAE while keeping costs down.
Best suited to: Free zone setup
Reasons: Free zones offer 0% tax rates, 100% import and export tax exemption and preferential customs duty rates, making it an ideal option for entrepreneurs looking to maximise their profits by keeping costs down. Different free zones specialise in different industries too.
Profile 4: The Side Hustler
A savvy entrepreneur who already has a job in the UAE but wants to build a side business in the region.
Best suited to: Zero-visa package
Reasons: Anyone looking to start a business in the UAE will need to apply for the relevant license. However, many packages include additional extras targeting foreign expats, such as immigration cards and visas. A zero-visa package offers the best rates for the bare minimum required to start a side business legally, making it the best option for a Side Hustler looking to build and scale another business.
Profile 5: The Nomad Entrepreneur
An individual looking to build a business that operates globally, outside the UAE market.
Best suited to: Free Zone setup
Reasons: With more than 50 free zones to choose from, each with its own specialised laws and policies for specific business activities, free zone setup is ideal for Nomad Entrepreneurs. Business owners are not required to rent an office and are free to do business outside of the UAE Mainland.
Profile 6: The Family Guy
A business owner who plans to set up a company in the UAE to acquire residency visas for themselves and their family.
Best suited to: Residency bundle
Reasons: For those looking to live in a safe and progressive country with first-rate healthcare, education and transportation, a residency bundle is an excellent option. Investors can gain residency for themselves and their families within a month, with no large upfront investments, no language tests and no requirement to carry out operations.
Profile 7: The Plan B Guru
An investor who owns a company that mostly operates outside of the UAE but wants to benefit from the region’s flexible banking and competitive tax regime.
Best suited to: Offshore setup
Reasons: Offshore companies are typically used for international business and financial activities that are set up to operate outside their registered jurisdiction. For the Plan B Guru, this means they can benefit from the UAE’s favourable regulations, such as 100% foreign company ownership and low tax rates, as well as asset protection, access to a diverse market and convenient bank account opening.
Profile 8: The 10-Year Planner
A foreign investor who wants to set up a business and pay themselves a salary to unlock the benefits of long-term residency in the UAE.
Best suited to: Golden Visa
Reasons: Introduced in 2018, the Golden Visa offers a 10-year residency to investors, entrepreneurs and individuals with outstanding talents. With this visa, investors can travel, study, work and sponsor their family members with ease.
Profile 9: The Forward Thinker
An investor who wants to protect their assets and plan for the future.
Best suited to: Foundations
Reasons: A foundation is an independent legal entity that enables high-net-worth individuals to manage and protect their assets, making it an excellent long-term solution for succession planning. Individuals can set up a tax-efficient charitable, private or corporate foundation and adapt this over time to reflect changing circumstances.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
At Creative Zone, we have helped over 55,000 clients find the right business setup option for their specific requirements and circumstances. With over a decade of experience, market-leading expertise and on-the-ground knowledge, our business advisors are best positioned to help you find the right fit. We can also take the stress and hassle out of the process with our comprehensive services ranging from visa services to tax and accounting to marketing.
Interested in setting up a business in the UAE? Take advantage of one of our free consultations today. https://www.creativezone.ae/ad/business-setup-dubai