A Guide to Setting Up a Business in the UAE Mainland

A Guide to Setting Up a Business in the UAE Mainland

Establishing a business in the UAE mainland offers unique advantages for entrepreneurs seeking to operate within the country’s vibrant economy. The UAE mainland provides access to a broader market and allows businesses to engage in various activities across different sectors. Here’s a comprehensive guide on the process and key considerations for setting up a business in the UAE mainland.

1. Choose the Right Business Activity

The first step for business setup in uae mainland is determining the nature of your business activity. Different activities are regulated by various government authorities, so it’s essential to select the appropriate category based on your business model and objectives.

2. Find a Local Sponsor

Unlike free zones, mainland businesses in the UAE require a local sponsor or service agent who is a UAE national or a company wholly owned by UAE nationals. The local sponsor holds 51% ownership of the business, while the foreign investor retains 49% ownership.

3. Choose a Commercial Name and Legal Structure

Select a unique and meaningful name for your business that complies with UAE naming conventions. Decide on the legal structure of your business, which can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or branch of a foreign company.

4. Prepare the Memorandum of Association (MOA)

Draft a Memorandum of Association outlining the company’s activities, capital, ownership structure, and other essential details. The MOA must be notarized by a public notary in the UAE.

5. Obtain Initial Approval and Trade License

Submit the required documents, including the MOA, to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the relevant authority in the emirate where you intend to establish your business. Upon receiving initial approval, obtain the trade license that permits you to conduct business activities legally.

6. Secure Office Space

Rent commercial office space in an approved location as per UAE regulations. The office space must meet specific criteria depending on your business activity and license type.

7. Complete Government Approvals and Registration

Obtain necessary approvals from other government entities, such as the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Interior, and relevant regulatory bodies based on your business activity.

8. Open a Corporate Bank Account

Once your business setup is complete, open a corporate bank account with a UAE bank to facilitate financial transactions and comply with banking regulations.

9. Visa Processing and Employee Sponsorship

Apply for visas for yourself and any employees you intend to sponsor. The number of visas and eligibility criteria vary based on the type of business activity and office space.

10. Comply with Regulatory Requirements

Ensure ongoing compliance with UAE laws and regulations related to taxation, employment, health, safety, and environmental standards.


Setting up a business in the UAE mainland offers access to a dynamic market and diverse opportunities for growth. However, navigating the legal and regulatory landscape requires careful planning and compliance with local requirements. By following this guide and seeking guidance from business consultants and legal advisors, entrepreneurs can establish a successful business presence in the UAE mainland and contribute to the country’s thriving economy.