It is well known among foreign investors that UAE offers a favourable tax and fiscal structure, easy solutions to running a business, and good global connectivity. These financial policies and advantages have made the UAE a growing global business hub.

The demand for residency in Dubai is increasing, and so is the number of applicants. Below are ways on how you can obtain residency in Dubai:

  • Employment: your employer provides you with sponsorship, but the residence visa must be renewed every 2 or 3 years.
  • Real Estate: You can also obtain residency in Dubai by purchasing real estate in the Emirate. Once you have obtained residency, you can also open a bank account in Dubai.
  • Company Formation: You can obtain a Dubai residency by registering a company or business in the Emirate. This residency visa allows you, a foreign citizen, to be a stockholder in a local company and hire employees in the Emirate.

Free Zone and Mainland Business Setup

UAE Free Zones are referred to as Special Economic Zones (SEZs) scattered all across the UAE. These zones are more than fifty in number and allow conducting business in various areas such as media, shipping, logistics. Before applying for a business license, it is advised to assess the scope of the business carefully. Whether the business will be conducted locally or internationally or for issuing invoices, businessmen need to apply for various business licenses. If one is willing to conduct a business mostly outside of the UAE, it would be a better choice to obtain a Free Zone license.

Mainland license has gained popularity ever since the traditional regulations and complications were decreased. Conducting business at the onshore part of Dubai requires a Mainland license. Usually, businesses with this license have 49% and 51% ownership arrangement, with a higher percentage owned by the local partner.

Why set up your business in Dubai?

Among the UAE cities, Dubai has always attracted so much attention when it comes to immigration.

  • Dubai’s multicultural environment and excellent connectivity are the two key factors that will make Dubai one of the world’s megacities in the future.
  • Geographical advantages, such as a large coastline and global aviation hub, Dubai has gathered so many people from different places worldwide.
  • The UAE government has always been very welcoming and supportive to foreign investors and cooperated with them to set up their businesses.
  • Adopting business policies such as foreign investors owning their business, 100% has proved to be very successful and has attracted a huge amount of capital from all over the world. The adopted
  • Tax policies such as total income or corporate tax waivers have been desirable for investors and efficient practice. Corporate tax only applies to the banking and oil industries.
  • VAT is fixed at 5%, which is rather low and has made the UAE one of the best investment destinations.
  • A very stable fiscal environment as UAE Dirham is pegged with the American dollar.
  • Setting up a business in the UAE is relatively cheap as it starts from USD 2,000 in free zones and USD 5,000 in the mainland.
  • Family visa programs. Once the investors obtain their residency visas, they can apply for their family members’ residency visas. This process is very fast since the whole procedure takes only 36 days. The applicants do not need to be present in the country during this process.

Documents required when applying for Dubai residency

  • Application form
  • Valid passports’ copies
  • Marriage certificate, if you are married
  • Copies of all educational and professional qualifications


The applicant also has to undergo a medical exam before his or her employment. A medical examination is necessary every time the residence permit is being renewed.

For a hassle-free business setup or residency visa application, please call +97155 2330077. One of Smart Zone‘s  Business Setup Advisors would be happy to assist. Don’t forget to ask about our special holidays offer this December!