There are over 40 free zones in the United Arab Emirates and determining the best free zone for incorporating a business is a very common question raised by aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners alike.
To be able to address this, it is important to understand the history of free zone authorities in the UAE dating back to 1985. This started when JAFZA, which was the first official UAE free zone authority, was established as a move to attract foreign investment by allowing 100% foreign ownership and to diversify & grow the economy.
Today, free zone authorities are geographically segregated and have the autonomy to operate under their own UAE compliant regulatory framework. Each authority has dictated their own administrative processes and licensing requirements, promoting specific industries, and effecting competitive advantages and disadvantages, thereby ensuring that no two free zones are 100% alike.
Why are Free Zones attractive?
Free Zones provide a wide range of incentives to business owners, starting with 100% full ownership and extending to other financial benefits. However, the more important benefits are usually unique to each free zone such as:
- The ability to combine trading and professional business activities in one trade license
- The ability to become an investor/partner without a No Objection Certificate requirement
- The ability to obtain the fixed incorporation fee as opposed to estimates
- The ability to obtain multi year licenses (up to 10 years in validity)
- The ability to obtain a dual license to operate the business in the mainland
- The ability to avail of discounts incentives/promotions offered by the free zones
What is the Cost of Incorporating in a Free Zone?
Depending on the free zone that best suits your business requirements. The starting cost of obtaining a free zone license would be AED 3700 for a freelance approval, to AED 5750 for a media/publishing license, to AED 15,750 for a license which includes a visa package.
Below is a basic comparison of the common & cost effective free zones within the UAE:
Each Free Zone has its pros & cons, it is therefore important to speak to a Business Setup Consultant who has industry knowledge and business acumen to ensure you establish your business in the most suitable free zone specific for your business activity and in line with your long term plans. So to the questions of what is the best free zone for your business? The answer is – there is none. There is however, the most suitable free zone for each business owner and their business requirements.
Whilst the various free zone options are attractive, as a business owner, the most important point to consider is – Will a Free Zone license be beneficial to achieving your business objectives in the long run?
If you are a business owner looking to start your business or relocate your business to the United Arab Emirates and are overwhelmed with the various free zone options in the market, our EZONE Business Setup Consultants are available for a free consultation to provide you with unbiased guidance & direction without commitments. At EZONE, Your Business Matters to us and we believe that starting your business right begins with making an informed decision in the jurisdiction you will register your license in.
UAE Free Zone Directory
- Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)
- Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)
- Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
- Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA)
- Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
- Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA)
- Dubai CommerCity – part of DAFZA
- Dubai South Logistics City (DWC) / Dubai Aviation City Corporation
- Dubai Media City (DMC) – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Internet City (DIC) – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Design District (D3) – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Knowledge Park – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Health Care City (DHCC)
- Dubai Studio City – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Outsource City – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Maritime City
- Dubai Production City – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Science Park – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai International Academic City – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Industrial City / Dubai Wholesale City – part of TECOM Group
- Dubai Car & Automotive City Free Zone (DUCAMZ)
- Meydan Free Zone
- Dubai Technopark – part of JAFZA
- Dubai Auto Zone (DAZ) – part of JAFZA
- Dubai International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) – part of DSOA
- International Humanitarian City Free Zone (IHC)
- Dubai Flower Centre (DFC)
- Dubai Textile City
- Dubai Heavy Equipment & Trucks Zone (HEZ)
- Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM)
- Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD)
- Masdar City Free Zone
- Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ)
- TwoFour54 Abu Dhabi
- Sharjah Media Free Zone (SHAMS)
- Sharjah Publishing City (SPC)
- Sharjah Airport Free Zone (SAIF)
- Hamiyah Free Zone Authority
- Sharjah Research Technology & Innovation Park
Ras Al Khaimah
- Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ)
- Ras Al Khaimah International Corporate Centre (RAKICC)
- Ras Al Khaimah Maritime City
Umm Al Quwain
Information current as of 15 June 2021. Prices can vary depending on the month free zone promotions.