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The Emirate of Dubai extends along the Arabian Gulf coast of the UAE for approximately 72 kilometres. Dubai has an area of 3,885 square ilometres, which is equivalent to 5 per cent of the country’s total area, excluding the islands. The major part of the Dubai emirate consists of rolling sand dunes lapping the foothills of the arid Hajar mountains in the east.

Dubai city is built along the edge of a narrow 10-kilometre long, winding creek which divides the southern section of Bur Dubai, the city’s traditional eart, from the northern area of Deira.

The Ruler’s office, together with many head offices of major companies, Port Rashid, the Dubai World Trade Centre, customs, broadcasting stations and the postal authority are all situated in Bur Dubai.

Jebel Ali, home of a huge man-made port, has the largest free-trade zone in Arabia, housing an ever growing list of international corporations which use the zone for both manufacturing and as a redistribution point.

Inland, the mountain resort town of Hatta is an extremely attractive location. Adjacent to a lake reservoir, the Hatta Fort Hotel is set in extensive parkland and provides a perfect base for exploring the nearby wadis and mountains, which extend into Omani territory.

Dubai International Airport is second only to Tokyo in the number of daily transit passengers it handles and second only to Seattle as a sea-air hub. Its harbor is the most important port in the Middle East and is ranked among the world’s top 15 in terms of container throughput.

In November 2005, in anticipation of a huge increase in the numbers of tourists, business travellers and rising trading volumes, the Dubai authorities announced the launch of a project to build the world’s largest airport in the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The airport, initially known as the Jebel Ali International Airport (JXB), but since renamed the Al-Maktoum International Airport, will be a massive undertaking, with total infrastrucutre costs expected to hit USD33 billion.

The airport is to being completed in phases, and the first runway of six was completed in November 2007 at a cost of USD1 billion. The airport was opened on 27 June, 2010 with one operating runway and only handling cargo. Passenger flights are expected to commence in the first half of 2011. When completed, the airport will have six concourses, and be capable of handling more than 120 million passengers, and more than 12 million tonnes of cargo per year.

Modern Dubai is the product of more than 20 years of intensive development. Prior to that, Dubai was a small trading port, clustered around the mouth of the Creek.

It had grown gradually from a fishing village inhabited in the 18th century by members of the Bani Yas tribe. Its origins, however, go back into the far more distant past. The town’s museum displays a rich collection of objects found in graves of the first millenium BC at nearby Al-Qusais, while a caravan station of the sixth century AD was excavated in the expatriate suburb of Jumairah.

Beginning in 1820, Great Britain entered into treaties with various leaders in the area out of a desire to protect its ships in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. In addition, Britain was allowed to handle foreign relations for the area known as “Trucial Oman” or “the Trucial States” because of the Perpetual Maritime Truce which the Arab rulers signed with the British in 1853. The United Arab Emirates became fully independent on December 2, 1971, although Ras al-Khaimah did not join until 1972.

By the turn of the 20th century Dubai was a sufficiently prosperous port to attract settlers from Iran, India and Baluchistan, while the souk on Deira side was thought to be the largest on the coast, with some 350 shops. The facilities for trade and free enterprise were enough to make Dubai a natural haven for merchants who left Lingah, on the Persian coast, after the introduction of high customs’ dues there in 1902. These people were mostly of distant Arab origin and Sunni, unlike most Persians, and naturally looked across to the Arab shore of the Gulf finally making their homes in

Meanwhile a flourishing Indian population had also settled in Dubai and was particularly active in the shops and alleys of the souk. The cosmopolitan atmosphere and air of tolerance began to attract other foreigners too: by the 1930s, nearly a quarter of the 20,000 population was foreign, including 2,000 Persians, 1,000 Baluchis, many Indians and substantial communities from Bahrain, Kuwait and the Hasa province in eastern South Arabia. Some years later the British also made it their center on the coast, establishing a political agency in 1954.

The population has increased tenfold since the 1960s to nearly 1.87 million, and now hundreds of hotels accommodate the expat workers and tourists who help run the economy. Indeed, only around 22% of the emirate’s population, at the last count, were actually ethnically Emirati in a population mixture that has to be one of the world’s most cosmopolitan. This diversity discourages any real ethnic tensions and while war and the threat of war might simmer further north,

it creates far less tension in Dubai than many might imagine it would. There are large groups of Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians and Southeast Asians. The population is, however, 95% Muslim. Arabic is of course the official language but English is widely spoken as are Urdu, Malayalam and from the Philippines, Tagalog.


Petroleum has traditionally dominated the economy of the UAE. The immense wealth has been invested in capital improvements and social services in all seven of the emirates. Petroleum production is centred in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Industrial development is essentially petroleum related and is limited by a lack of trained personnel and raw materials. After seeing big rises in GDP for many years, the global financial crises afftected the UAE badly mainly because of the country’s heavy exposure to depressed real estate prices. GDP fell 2.7% in 2009, after enjoying growth of 7.4% and 6.2% in 2008 and 2007 respectively. Wholesale and retail trade and repair and maintenance were the largest contributors to GDP in 2008 following a successful policy of economic diversification; the portion of GDP based on oil is expected to be no more than 1% in 2010.

The emirate of Dubai is strategically located between Africa and the Middle East and between the Far East and Europe, making it a gateway to over 1.5 billion consumers located in countries surrounding the Red Sea and the Gulf. It has a superb infrastructure with the consequence that it has become a key link in the global transport and distribution system.

Dubai is served by more than 170 shipping lines and more than 86 airlines offering links to over 100 cities worldwide. The strong shipping and transportation sector comprises of most of the leading regional and international freight forwarders, insurers and shipping agents. It has a rapidly developing high quality manufacturing sector and a buoyant and prosperous domestic market. In a nutshell its infrastructure and services match the highest international standards.

Despite a relatively small population, in 2009, total non-oil imports stood at USD150bn. The reason is that Dubai is the major re-export centre for the region. Many of the economies of the region served by Dubai are still at a relatively early stage of development, so there is plenty of long term scope for diversification and expansion in the future. Another important consideration is Dubai’s rapidly developing role as a supplier to such emerging markets as India, the CIS, Central Asia and South Africa.

There are no foreign exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers. Import duties are extremely low, and many products are exempt. The UAE dirham is freely convertible and is linked to the US dollar, the currency in which oil revenues are paid. The current exchange rate is AED3.67 = USD1 and no revaluation has occurred since 1977.

In 2003, the government of Dubai set a precedent by launching the country’s first ever government bond issue worth AED1.5bn (USD400m).

Following the success of the Jebel Ali free zone, the government has developed Dubai Internet City (DIC), which has a highly developed technical infrastructure.

The DIC occupies 3,200 hectares in the South of Dubai, near the Jebel Ali Free Zone. It offers state of the art facilities and sites for manufacturing, offices, housing, and academic, research, distributions and logistics institutions.

During 2002, Dubai developed plans for the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which is proving to be a major financial entrepot. The DIFC fills what was once a significant gap in the market for international Shariah banking, fund management and life assurance. One of its biggest selling points is that it appeals to both Arab money looking for a local centre of excellence and Western cash seeking sophistication and safety.

Philip Thorpe, chief executive of the DIFC Regulatory Authority, explained at the time that: “We have...made good use of our freedom to create a single, logical framework - in contrast to older-established jurisdictions, who often have to make (do) and mend within existing frameworks which may gradually become more complex and less relevant.”

Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank were among the many international financial sector firms which signed up to be among the first residents of DIFC. By September 2009, the number of firms licensed by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to operate in the DIFC had reached 301, comprising 235 authorised firms, 49 ancillary service providers and 17 registered auditors.

It had been hoped that the DIFC would double - to 20% - the financial sector’s contribution to the GDP of the United Arab Emirates by 2010, but data released in early 2010 suggested this target would not be met. In 2008, DIFC contribution to GDP was at just below 4%.

In July, 2003, the Federal Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) approved a Federal Decree allowing the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) a large degree of sovereignty. The approval of the Decree, which allows for Financial Free Zones to be established in the UAE, marked a significant step forward for the Centre.

In January, 2004, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) announced 12 new laws relating to operations within the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), providing a wide-ranging corporate legal envelope.

In 2006, the Companies Law contained in the 2004 package was updated.

In July, 2004, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum acted decisively to guarantee the independence of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), giving his personal commitment to the independence of the DFSA and declared that this will be formally enshrined in Dubai Law which will signal the launch of the DIFC. Dr Habib Al Mulla, Chairman of the DFSA Regulatory Council, said: “The way is now clear for the DIFC when it launches, very soon, to become the powerful engine of business and employment creation that our region needs.”

Finally, in September 2004, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai signed a decree formally establishing the Dubai International Finance Centre.

In addition to confirming the appointment of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Defence Minister and Crown Prince of Dubai as the President of the DIFC, the decree officially created the DIFC Financial Services Authority, the DIFC Judicial Establishments and the DIFC Registrar of Companies.

Speaking following the signing of the decree, Director General of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman announced that:”I am delighted to now say that the DIFC is open for business. This final legislative approval has established our independence and formalises the legal framework within which the DIFC and its tenants will operate.”

In April 2007, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) held an official inauguration ceremony for the DIFC Courts, an independent judicial system which deals with matters arising from and within the DIFC, and which is expected to raise the bar of legal standards within the region.

The Real Property Law, enacted in June 2007, guarantees ownership of freehold land and buildings, and other interest in land, within the DIFC. The Law is based on the underlying principles of English common law, but also incorporates the Torrens system of land registration, well known in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore.

Under the Real Property Law, land transactions are registered in a central register administered in the DIFC. Once registered, the Law certifies them to be fully effective. Unlike some other systems of land registration, title interests registered under the Real Property Law are “indefeasible”. In practical terms, this means that persons buying real estate in the DIFC, lending on the security of real estate in the DIFC, or taking a lease of real estate in the DIFC, can be assured that their investment is backed by the full protection of the Law.


The Dubai economy enjoys a competitive combination of cost, market and environmental advantages that create an ideal and attractive investment climate for local and expatriate businesses alike. In fact, these advantages not only rank Dubai as the Arabian Gulf’s leading multi-purpose business center and regional hub city, but they place it at the forefront of the globe’s, dynamic and emerging market economies.

Dubai, with its ancient commercial and seafaring traditions, has long been recognized as the Middle East region’s leading trading hub and has emerged as its key re-export center. In more recent years, the Emirate has become a major venue for a number of growing, profitable industries and activities:

  • Meetings, conferences, exhibitions
  • Tourism
  • Corporate regional headquarters
  • Regional transport, distribution and logistics center
  • Banking, finance and insurance
  • Business and industrial consulting
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Light and medium manufacturing

This all became possible due to Dubai’s warm, welcoming people, world class facilities and infrastructure; and farsighted, open and liberal economic policies. Finally, committed to a progressive vision of itself, keen to diversify its economy and diminish its reliance upon shrinking oil revenues, Dubai has begun to develop into the Arabian Gulf’s premier international business center. Consider the factors that contribute to this ongoing success story.

Dubai’s economy is fairly clearly divided between the ‘onshore’ sector, dominated by local business interests, with restrictions on foreign ownership, and the ‘offshore’ sector which consists of The Jebel Ali Free Zone, the Dubai Investment Park, Dubai Internet City, the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), which opened in 2003, the Dubai Airport Free Zone, and Dubai Media City. There are no taxes to speak of in Dubai, on- or off-shore, but 100% foreign ownership and customs privileges make the Free Zone and its successors some of the most favourable locations in the Middle East for international operations.

All business in Dubai is low tax, but in Offshore Business Review we examine the Free Zone, the newer DIC and DIFC,

shipping and the banking and finance sector, which are the business sectors most interesting to international investors.

The list of Free Zones in the UAE

  1. Jebel Ali Free Zone
  2. Dubai Internet City FZ
  3. Dubai Media City FZ
  4. Knowledge Village FZ
  5. Dubai Airport FZ
  6. Gold & Diamond Park FZ
  7. Cars & Automotive FZ
  8. Metals & Commodities FZ
  9. SAIF Free Zone
  10. Hamriyah Free Zone
  11. Ajman Free Zone
  12. Ahmed Bin Rashid FZ
  13. Fujairah Free Zone
  14. Ras Al Khaima Free Zone
  15. Dubai Silicon Oasis FZ
  16. Dubai Maritime City FZ
  17. Dubai Aid City FZ
  18. RAK Investment Authority
  19. Dubai Carpet Free Zone
  20. Dubai Auto Parts City FZ
  21. Heavy Eqpt.& Trucks FZ
  22. Umm Al Quwain Free Zone
  23. Dubai Flower Center FZ
  24. Dubai Health Care City FZ
  25. Dubai Textile Village FZ
  26. Int’l Media Production FZ
  27. Dubai Dragon Mart FZ
  28. Dubai Logistics City FZ
  29. Int’l Arbitration Center
  30. Techno Park Dubai
  31. Dubai Industrial City
  32. Dubai Outsource Free Zone

Free Zones offer the following incentives to the investors. Some of the salient features are:

  1. 100% foreign ownership
  2. No corporate taxation for 50 years; renewable for an additional 50 years
  3. Freedom to repatriate capital and income
  4. No personal income tax
  5. Full exemption from import duties
  6. No currency restrictions
  7. No bureaucratic red-tapism
  8. No recruitment problems
  9. Modern efficient communication
  10. State of the art infrastructure
  11. Abundant energy

Advantages of the Jurisdiction of Dubai

1) Strategic Location: Dubai is a time zone bridge between the Far East and Europe on the East-West axis and the CIS and Africa on the north-south axis. It is a gateway to a market that can be characterized as:

  • Large - well established trading links exist with the greater than 1.5 billion people in the neighboring region covering the Gulf, Middle East/Eastern Mediterranean, CIS, Central Asia, Africa and the Asian sub-continent;
  • Growing - Dubai’s total international trade has grown on average by over 11% per year since 1988 and regional economic growth and liberalization should boost demand further;
  • Prosperous - a buoyant local economy strategically located in the midst of one of the world’s richest regions and well endowed with ample supplies of cheap energy and primary aluminum; also adjacent to major regional suppliers of vital agro-export commodities;
  • Diversified - varied and significant import requirements generate opportunities for product suppliers and re-exporters;
  • Accessible - served by over 120 shipping lines and linked via 85 airlines to over 130 global destinations;
  • Open - no exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers.

2) Political And Economic Stability: Dubai is part of the UAE which is a low-crime and politically-stable country. Also, the UAE enjoys financial and monetary stability. Its well-developed, sophisticated banking system features extensive credit facilities and ample liquidity. The Emirate’s emerging capital markets are built on a basis of leading-edge technologies and sound regulatory systems. The government has a long, consistent commitment to pro-business, liberal economic policies including the protection of intellectual property rights. The UAE benefits from stable and harmonious industrial relations. Finally, there is a well defined, sound legal framework for business and a clear set of ownership rules. Foreigners are permitted ownership rights of up to 49% for limited liability companies established within the Emirate of Dubai and up to 100% for professional companies, branches and representative offices of foreign companies and free zones enterprises. All of these factors reflect positively in Dubai’s being assigned an investment grade rating for fixed income investment by Moody’s Investors Service.

3) Open And Free Economic System: Dubai’s economy has been kept open and free to attract investors and business. Government control and regulation of private sector activities has been kept to a minimum. There are no direct taxes on corporate profits or personal income (except for oil companies that pay a flat rate of 55% and branches of foreign banks that pay a flat rate of 20% on net profit generated within Dubai). Customs duties are low at 4% with many exemptions, 100% repatriation of capital and profits is permitted, there are no foreign exchange controls, trade quotas or
barriers and a stable exchange rate exists between the US Dollar and the UAE Dirham (US$1.00=AED 3.678). Liberal visa policies permit easy importation of expatriate labor of various skill levels from almost all over the world.

4) World Class Infrastructure and Service Sector: Dubai’s deliberate policy of investing heavily in transport, telecommunications, energy and industrial infrastructure has enabled it to have one of the best infrastructure facilities in the world; it also contributed significantly both to its ongoing prosperity and attractiveness to international business. The Emirate features a network of seven industrial areas, one business park and three highly successful, specialized free zones of international distinction, two world class seaports, a major international airport and cargo village, a modern highway network, state-of-the-art telecommunications and reliable power and utilities all of which deliver efficiency, flexibility, reliability, reasonable cost and size. Complementing its world class infrastructure is a sophisticated service sector that features leading regional and international freight forwarders, shipping companies, insurers plus major international hotels, banks and financial service firms, lawyers, accounting firms, consultants, advertising agencies, top international exhibition and conference facilities, high quality office and residential accommodation, first class hospitals, schools, shopping centers and recreational facilities.

5) Competitive Cost Structure: International companies setting up in Dubai can obtain significant cost advantages not generally available internationally. The major factors are:

  • No foreign exchange controls,
  • No trade barriers or quotas,
  • Competitive import duties (4% with many exemptions),
  • Competitive labor costs - labor force is multi-lingual and skilled,
  • Competitive energy costs,
  • Competitive real estate costs,
  • Competitive financing costs and high levels of liquidity,
  • No corporate profit or personal income taxes (except for oil companies and branches of foreign banks).

6) High Quality of Life, Excellent Living Conditions: Dubai’s private sector has invested heavily in real estate such as hotels, residential and commercial properties, recreational and leisure facilities. In addition, a number of factors have contributed to the Emirate’s high quality of life and superior living conditions making it a model location for many to emulate. Those factors include excellent infrastructural facilities, low crime, clean environment, tolerance and cultural diversity, cosmopolitan life style, modern public administration, availability of a wide range of consumer goods and services, mild winters and clean, palm fringed beaches.

7) Strong Local Commercial Tradition and Wide Choice of Potential Business Partners: The local business class has a long tradition of trading activity and wide exposure to international business practices and state-of-the-art technologies. Local entrepreneurs have already gained successful experience with international partnerships in franchising, licensing, joint ventures, etc, in various sectors of the economy.

8) Extensive Foreign Trade Network & Major Achievements in Export and Re-Export Performance: Dubai boasts an extensive foreign trade network extending to 179 states thus offering the investor an extensive choice of potential global marketing outlets for a diverse portfolio of goods and services. As a member of the UAE federation, Dubai is also part of the world’s third-largest export and re-export center after Hong Kong and Singapore.

9) Rapidly Developing Manufacturing Sector Producing a Wide Range of High Quality, Competitive Export Products: Major gains have already been made in the profitable manufacture and export of aluminum ingots, fabricated metal products, textiles and ready-made garments, gold and jewelry, prepared foodstuffs, consumer electronics, refined petroleum, chemical and non-metallic mineral products. Supportive commercial, industrial, political and economic factors are currently in places that make possible the extension of these gains to other manufacturing sub-sectors.

Placing an order for the formation of a company

In November 2008, the DIFC released its proposed updates on Companies Law and Insolvency Law for public consultation.

The Companies Law has been updated to include the registration requirements laid down by the DIFC Registrar of Companies. The Insolvency Law has been updated to include changes in applications and procedures for winding up Protected Cell Company (PCC) structures used by insurers to provide an easy and cost-effective way for smaller organizations to establish captive insurance units.

Also in November 2008, the DIFC announced that it had enacted new regulations that enable companies within the financial district to quickly form Special Purpose Company (SPC) structures. The new regulations allow companies to create SPCs for facilitating both Islamic and conventional transactions as well as vessel registrations. Transactions that can be facilitated by the new law include acquisitions and financings. Under the law, Special Purpose Companies can be easily structured and incorporated, while enjoying exemptions from some filing and disclosure rules relating to conventional companies in DIFC.

Previously, each emirate followed its own procedures governing the operations of foreign business interests. Since 1984, steps have been taken to introduce a codified companies’ law which is applicable throughout the UAE. Federal Law No. 8 of 1984, as amended by Federal Law No. 13 of 1988 - the “Commercial Companies Law” - and its by-laws have been issued and in basic terms the provisions of the Law are as follows:

Unless you open your business in Dubai within one of the free trade zones, where 100% foreign ownership is permitted, the Federal Law stipulates a total local equity of not less than 51% in any commercial company and defines seven categories of business organisations which can be established in the UAE. It categorises and defines the requirements in terms of shareholders, directors, minimum capital levels and incorporation procedures. It further lays down provisions governing conversion, merger and dissolution of companies.

The seven categories of business organisations defined by the law are:

  • General partnership company
  • Partnership-en-commendam
  • Joint venture company
  • Public shareholding company
  • Private shareholding company
  • Limited liability company
  • Share partnership company

The following steps are required in establishing a limited liability company in Dubai.

  • Select a commercial name for the company and have it approved by the Licensing Department of the Economic Department;
  • Draw up the company’s Memorandum of Association and have it notarised by a Notary Public in the Dubai Courts;
  • Seek approval from the Economic Department and apply for entry in the Commercial Register;
  • Once approval is granted, the company will be entered in the Commercial Register and have its Memorandum of  Association published in the Ministry of Economy and Commerce’s Bulletin. The licence will then be issued by the Economic Department;
  • The company should then be registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Requirements for the Registration of an IBC

  • Director: Minimum of two Directors. Corporate Directors are not permitted.
  • Secretary: A secretary is required.
  • Shareholder: Minimum of one shareholder.
  • Shares & Capital: No minimum capital requirement. All shares must be fully paid when allocated and no bearer shares or differential classes of shares are allowed. There is no requirement to deposit the capital in bank.
  • Name of the Company: Names of Companies with limited liability must have the suffix Limited or Ltd.
  • Company must have a registered office and a registered agent in Dubai. A registered agent (legal firms, auditors, consultants) is required to be appointed by the Company from the approved list of registered agents maintained by JAFZA.

Required Documents to register the company:

  1. Passport copies
  2. Original proof of residence
  3. Original bank reference letter
  4. Resume (profile) of the shareholders

If Incorporating a Limited Liability Company

  1. Application for Reservation of a Limited Liability Company Name. Form LLC1 (Optional)
  2. Application for Incorporation of a Limited Liability Company. Form LLC2
  3. A copy of the company’s proposed Memorandum and Articles of Association. This must be signed by the incorporators and their signatures notarised. Alternatively, incorporators can sign in the presence of the DIFC official who can witness their signatures
  4. Approval from the DIFCA’s Registration Review Committee.

If an incorporator is a body corporate:

  1. A copy of the incorporator’s current Certificate of Incorporation or Registration in its place of origin, or a document of similar effect, certified by the relevant authority in the jurisdiction in which it is incorporated or registered.
  2. If any documents are not in the English Language they must be accompanied by an official translation certified to the satisfaction of the Registrar.
  3. Resolution of the Board of Directors or Shareholders (or other applicable top management body) authorising the incorporation of the Company in the DIFC or for the investment in the new DIFC Company.
  4. Resolution of the Board of Directors or Shareholders (or other applicable top management body) appointing: a) the person authorised to sign documents on behalf of the body corporate in relation to the incorporation of the new Company; b) appointing the person authorised to sign documents in all matters following incorporation of the new Company. (In some cases the Board will authorise the issue of a Power of Attorney giving a named individual the powers to sign all documents in connection with the establishment of the Company).
  5. Resolution of the Board of Directors or Shareholders (or other applicable top management body) stating that the Articles of Association have been duly adopted by the Company.
  6. Names and addresses of the beneficial owners who enjoy the direct or indirect benefits of owning at least 10% of the shares or membership interest, regardless of whose name the shares are in. Form LLC8.

Applicable to both, if an incorporator is an individual or a body corporate:

  1. Personnel Sponsorship Agreement signed by both parties (please print this document on blank paper, print in the details and submit in duplicate).
  2. Foreign Direct Investment Form (“FDI”).
  3. Form DAT1 (Notification of Personal Data Operations).
  4. Copy of the lease agreement for the office space in DIFC or outside of DIFC signed by both parties. If the company is operating from outside the DIFC then a no objection letter from the Leasing Department of DIFCA is compulsory.
  5. Passport copies of all directors, officers, and members.
  6. The Form LLC01 is only required if the company wants to reserve the name to avoid someone else using it.

Corporate documents of a Dubai Limited Liability Company

  • Original certification of incorporation of IBC
  • Memorandum and article of Association
  • First minutes and Corporate Resolutions containing the appointment of directors, allocation of shares, share certificates, copies of the Registry of Directors and the Registry of shareholders if they need them.
  • Share transfer forms, trust declarations, appointments of representative (power of attorney) and the Corporate Seal.

Dubai has changed dramatically over the last three decades, becoming a major business centre with a more dynamic and diversified economy. Dubai enjoys a strategic location and serves as the biggest re-exporting centre in the Middle East.

Its low logistical and operational costs and excellent infrastructure, international outlook and liberal government policies are attracting investors in a big way. Activities such as trade, transport, tourism, industry and finance have shown steady growth and helped the economy to achieve a high degree of expansion and diversification. 



Dubai - United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Time zone

GMT + 3 hours during British Summer Time; GMT +4 hours remaing of the year.


DIFC: approx. 14,000. Workforce of Dubai: 1,478,000 (2007).


Abu Dhabi is capital of UAE


Dubai International Airport.


DIFC: English, Dubai: Arabic.


DIFC: AED - Dubai Dirhams (AED) and USD.

Political system

DIFC is governed by DIFC laws (common law). Dubai is governed by federal laws.

International dialling code

+ 971 (4).

Legal system

Dubai is governed by federal laws.

Centre’s expertise


Personal income tax


Corporate income tax


Exchange restrictions


Tax treaties



Permitted currencies

AED (approximately 1 US = 3.66 AED.

Minimum authorised capital


Minimum share issue



Shelf companies

A draft of the ‘special purpose company’ regime is currently being drafted.

Timescale for new entities

2 days for SPCs.

Incorporation fees

US $1,000 for SPCs.

Annual fees

US $1,000 for SPCs.


Minimum number

2 directors for SPCs.

Residency requirements


Corporate directors

Yes, Employee corporate services provider.






Bearer shares

Not allowed.

Minimum number


Public share registry

The information is made available to general public through DIFC website in a seperate register titled "Special Purposes Company Register"

Meetings / frequency

Not required.


Annual return

Not applicable to SPCs.

Audit requirements

Not required for SPCs.


Registered office

DIFC: registrar of companies.

Domicile issues

Dubai: DIFC.

Company naming restrictions

The conditions set out in Clause 2 of the DIFC companies regulations will apply.


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