Dubai International Humanitarian City (IHC)

It has become a global responsibility to aid people who need humanitarian relief. Natural disasters, armed conflicts and other humanitarian issues disrupt communities and expose us to vulnerabilities. Dubai’s International Humanitarian City (IHC) was created in 2003 to offer facilities and services to humanitarian communities, providing relief to people suffering from prevalent global issues. 

One of the most popular humanitarian and logistic hubs, IHC Dubai now hosts UN agencies, multiple non-profit organisations and intergovernmental entities. It has the vision to become the largest and most efficient humanitarian hub. Read on if you wish to establish an organisation within this freezone.

Contributions of Dubai International Humanitarian City

Here are some of the contributions made by the International Humanitarian City freezone to make itself popular worldwide.

  • Provided swift dispatch of supplies covering basic necessities in Gaza during the period of war.
  • Shipped vital items like tents, water purification units, food supplies and provided medical support to the residents of Nepal post the devastating earthquake.
  • During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, IHC acted as a middle agent between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). They facilitated efficient logistics by dispatching essential items like personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • IHC Dubai coordinated the delivery of emergency supplies to the people living in areas affected by Cyclone Pam in 2015.
  • IHC's logistical support promoted the rapid and efficient distribution of aid during the 2010 Haiti earthquake helping address the urgent needs of millions of Haitians.
  • The contributions made by Dubai’s humanitarian city helped improve the living conditions of thousands of Syrian refugees, who were seeking safety in Jordan by providing them necessary services.

Benefits Provided by Dubai International Humanitarian City

Starting your company in the International Humanitarian City of Dubai allows you to enjoy numerous advantages. Let us take a look at them:

Brand Exposure

It enables you to increase your brand image as your company experiences exposure through IHC's social media, website, and promotional materials. 

Financial Benefits

IHC Dubai provides a favourable tax environment with VAT-designated zones reducing the VAT implied on transactions. Streamlined import/export processes, potential VAT refunds for humanitarian organisations, and discounts on hotels and flights help streamline financial operations.

Access to Modern Infrastructure

International Humanitarian City provides its entrepreneurs with state-of-the-art facilities like training rooms, meeting spaces, office spaces and warehouses. You can also enjoy services like 24/7 security, shuttle buses for conveyance and many more.

Efficient Logistics Hub

With direct access to the MENA region and top-notch airport and seaport infrastructure, IHC  emerges as an efficient logistic hub. It ensures the process of dispatching supplies to crisis-prone areas is hassle-free and efficient.

Criteria to Start a Business in the IHC Dubai

The criteria to establish your company within the freezone varies depending on the business entity chosen. Let us look at the requirements:

Non-Profit Organisation

To register a branch of a non-profit organisation (NPO), you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must run an independent non-profit organisation.
  • It must have active involvement in international humanitarian efforts.
  • The primary activities of the NPO should strictly fall within one of the following categories:
  1. Provide aid for humanitarian, natural, or environmental disasters.
  2. Assist United Nations agencies or other international NPOs by providing on-ground support or funding.
  3. Carry out development projects in response to humanitarian or natural disasters.
  • The organisation must adhere to a voluntary code of conduct or follow the principles of impartiality, independence, and neutrality while providing humanitarian assistance.

Commercial Business

Commercial businesses in the IHC can only perform activities that help ease the operations of the United Nations, Non-Profit Organisations (NPO), Non-Government Organisations (NGO) and recognised charitable organisations during humanitarian activities.

Allowed commercial activities include:

  • Manufacturing and supplying aid-related goods such as medical equipments, food items, and vehicles
  •  Providing services related to security, maintenance and consulting to relief organisations

How to Start a Business in International Humanitarian City

Understanding the processes involved in incorporating your company within the IHC is easy. Let us look at the steps involved -

Step 1- Obtain the trade name certificate from the authorities after choosing a valid trade name.

Step 2- Choose a company structure based on your business objectives.

Step 3- Fill out all the details on the application form provided by the IHC authorities

Step 4- Submit the requisite documents along with the signed application form

Step 5- If your application is approved, the IHC's registration and licensing department will contact you for further updates related to the license and incorporation process.

Why Commitbiz?

Commitbiz Management Consultants are industry experts with 16+ years of experience. Our experts have the skills to ease the business incorporation process and provide you with business clarity during your business voyage. If you are interested in giving back to the community by establishing your company within Dubai International Humanitarian City, contact us today!


What is the validity of a business license in the IHC?

A business license is valid for a duration of two years in IHC Dubai.

Which company structures are available for establishing a commercial entity within the freezone?

A branch office and a freezone limited liability company (FZ-LLC) are the available company structures in the IHC freezone.

What are the documents required for setting up a branch office within the IHC?

A few documents required for setting up a branch office are passport copies of shareholders, a Memorandum of Association (MoA) and board resolution among others.