Mainland Company Formation in Dubai

by Zaara 26, Jun 2016

Mainland Company Formation in Dubai

Dubai has been home to entrepreneurs and investors from every corner of the world. Year after year, an increasing number of foreign investors and businesspeople flock to the Emirate to take benefit of its prime business environment.

There has never been a better time to get a Dubai mainland license. The pro-business laws, flexible regulatory environment, easy business approval, and quick timeline has made mainland license in Dubai a favorite choice amongst the region’s start-up community and investors.

Business setup in Dubai mainland can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. It is more complex than it is in the Free Zones. To begin with, you will need to maneuver all the legal and administrative procedures, apart from the skill, to run a successful business in the UAE marketplace.

Company Setup in Dubai Mainland – One of the Best Options

United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers the best environment in the Gulf, and it’s an amazing location for mainland company setup because of its strategic location, vibrant economic policies, and positive planning. 

Well-planned enterprising initiatives, various tax incentives, avoidance of double taxation, and abundant natural resources like oil have enabled service, industry and trade sectors to flourish and have played a crucial role in making it a dynamic business hub.

Dubai is the heart of the UAE and has the same or even more opportunities. Additionally, the opportunities for mainland company setup are many, which puts worth to the hype that the company setup in Dubai mainland has.

Procedure to Get Mainland License Dubai 


The steps for your obtaining a mainland license Dubai are straightforward. The Department of Economic Development is the regulatory authority responsible for the registration process. This is the major step towards your mainland company formation in Dubai.

1. Select Your Business Activity 

Before your company setup in Dubai mainland, it’s essential to note down the commercial activity so that you can apply for a Dubai mainland license in the following steps. The DED Dubai has mentioned more than 1000 activities in their list. So choose the activity depending on the business operations you want to take forward in UAE.

2. Register Trade Name

The name of the business set up in Mainland Dubai is approved by DED. The title of the business entity and the logo are required to be in line with the regulations set by DED for investors applying for registration and formation of business in mainland Dubai.

3. Get a local sponsor

The biggest difference in Dubai's mainland business setup or in a free zone is in the ownership regulations. You will need an Emirati (UAE national) to be your local sponsor for certain mainland businesses. 

This means the local sponsor will own 51% of the business shares while the remaining 49% of the ownership of the share rests with the ex-pat.  These shareholders may not invest in your company but will still be the legal owner of the majority shares. 

However, the expatriate partner can be the company's managing partner and hold 100% operational power. Sponsors will not involve in the day-to-day activities of the company.  

In the case of professional firm formation, the ex-pat is allowed to own the firm 100%, but a sponsor - officially called a local service agent (LSA) is still a requirement. You can associate with a sponsor for local shareholders and local service agents on a mutually agreed annual fee.

4. Get Initial Approval

Once the trade name is registered, your advisor will apply for an initial approval certificate. The initial approval certificate is necessary for further processing of documentation and approval from other government bodies like – the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, and Civil Defence. 

Before the initial approval, foreign investors must obtain a certificate of approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Initial approval does not permit an investor to start trading unless the commercial license is duly issued.

5. Register with the DED

The Department of Economic Development (DED) is the main regulatory body for forming companies in mainland Dubai. They are responsible for the economic growth and welfare of Dubai. They achieve this by developing economic policies and regulations, identifying strategic growth sectors, and providing efficient services to local and international investors. 

They are the business registration and license issuing authority of the Dubai mainland company formation. They are also responsible for commercial compliance and consumer protection.

6. Get your Business Address Verified

The Dubai Municipality is required to verify your office address (the office space varies depending on the license type), and it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that the tenancy contract and Ejari (tenancy contract registration certificate) are in place before applying for a license.

Documents Required For your Mainland Company formation Dubai

Your mainland company formation Dubai requires certain documents. They are mentioned below. 

  • To get MOE – Initial approval, the following documents are necessary. 
  • Registration forms
  • Trade name registration (proof)
  • Parent company’s MAA (Memorandum and Articles of Association)
  • Parent company’s Certificate of Incorporation 
  • Passport copy of the director
  • Parent company’s NOC
  • Local service agent – Naturalization book and passport (copy)
  • The local director of the branch requires a power of attorney. 
  • Board resolution from parent company
  • Setting up a new branch in Dubai requires the authorization of the parent company's management.

Suppose you aren’t sure of the processes of incorporating a business or find it too tricky. In that case, it is always good to take the help of a local Dubai-based business consultant to ensure the legal issues are handled carefully.

The above steps seem difficult. But you can always rely on our business consultants at Commitbiz to guide you through them seamlessly.

To get in touch with Commitbiz, do contact us today.


What is a mainland license in Dubai?

In Dubai, all business entities that come under commercial, professional, and sole establishment registered under the Dubai Economic Department (DED) are known as Dubai Mainland License.

Which Jurisdiction has more freedom in business activities?

A mainland company has more freedom compared to others.

Can mainland companies take government work?

Yes, they can.

What are the entities that can be set up in a mainland company?

The following entities can be set up

  • Limited liability company

  • Sole proprietorship

  • Branch office

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