How to establish a business in the UAE

The UAE Commercial Companies Law (CCL) has been amended to allow 100% foreign ownership of companies in the mainland. What do Swiss SMEs need to consider when establishing a business in the United Arab Emirates?


Under the United Arab Emirates Law, there are a number of different company establishment structures foreign and local entities may undertake when setting up a presence in the country. Depending on the respective set up and trade license issued, foreign entities may or may not be limited to perform specific activities as well.

The Departments of Economic Development (DED) across the different Emirates have issued their lists of over 1000 approved activities and requirements for foreign shareholders, which are heavily focused on commercial and industrial activities. 

Foreign investor will no longer need an Emirati partner to hold 51% of the shares in the company. However, certain industries (including finance, banking, insurance) will continue to be subject to at least some portion of mandatory shareholding by Emirati partners in the two largest emirates. More information on this new law, as well as on other possible company set up structures (such as a free zone company), is outlined in our guide, which can be downloaded below.



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