How to set up a small business in Dubai?

Regardless of scale of business, starting up a company in the UAE is straightforward. Here are the four steps you need to follow:

  • Step 1 – Select your business activity
    Meydan Free Zone has many commercial and professional business activities. You may only engage in the activities specified on your license. You can easily add more later if you decide to broaden or diversify your product offering.

  • Step 2 – Choosing your Business Name
    Choosing a business name is crucial to starting a business in the UAE. It is essential to keep a few things in mind while you decide. Adherence to the strict naming rules in the United Arab Emirates is necessary. As a general rule, you should not use words that may be considered blasphemous or disrespectful. You must also ensure that the name you want is available and not already in use.

  • Step 3 – Applying for your Trade License
    Your next step is to apply for a business license. The licensing procedure in Meydan Free Zone is digital, saving time and effort. The platform combines licensing with compliance and regulation, including UBO, ESR, and AML. As part of this procedure, you will need to provide the following documents:

    • Passport copy

    • A digital passport-size photo

    • Emirates ID copy (if applicable)

    • Residence visa copy (if applicable)

  • Step 4 – Applying for your Visa
    To live in the country, you will require a resident visa. The visa application procedure is as follows:

    • Getting an entry permit
    • Changing your status

    • Taking a medical exam

    • Getting your Emirates ID and visa stamp. You may submit visa applications for your employees and family members simultaneously with your visa application.

Contact one of the Meydan Free Zone’s business setup managers if you have any questions about the prerequisites.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Business in Dubai?

A low-cost business license in Dubai costs AED 12,500. This includes an LLC trade license, three business activities, and a lease agreement. However, this package does not offer any visa allocations.

If you require one visa allocation, you can opt for the next package, which costs AED 14,350. If you need more than one visa, a payment of AED 18,050 gives you up to three visas. All these packages include the same benefits.

start business dubai low cost

Why Start a Small Company in Meydan Free Zone?

At Meydan Free Zone, we aim to help set up companies and turn them into successful enterprises. We provide several benefits for business owners, including no personal or corporate tax, complete foreign ownership, and full repatriation benefits on profits and financial assets.

Additional services, such as our e-commerce support service, Meydan Commerce, and Easy Payment Plans, enable you to stretch out the setup cost over months and help your business develop and thrive.

At Meydan Free Zone, we can advise you on the best option for your company.

Get in touch today!

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To start a small business in Dubai, you need to follow the below steps.

  • Choose the right legal form for your business
  • Register the trade name
  • Apply for initial approval
  • Draft Memorandum of Association/Local Service Agent Agreement
  • Get additional government approvals
  • Apply for Business License

We will explain each of these in detail below.

Choose the right legal form for your business

You can start your business as a Sole Establishment, where the expatriate or foreign citizen can be the full proprietor of the business and the UAE citizen can be the regional agent. 

Another option is to initiate your small business as a Civil Company where there can be more than 2 overseas resident partners and the UAE resident can be the regional partner.

The third option is that you start your business as a Limited Liability Company where the UAE citizen has 51% of the equity and the migrant has 49% equity. 

Register the trade name

A trade name distinguishes one business from another. It also reflects the nature and the form of the business. 

You should prepare a list of 3 to 4 names that you wish to have as your legal name and present it to the concerned department. 

Once you have presented your request, the department would analyze it and sanction all the eligible business names. Therefore, you have the freedom to choose the one that you like most.

Here are some guidelines you must follow while creating a trade name.

The trade name must:

  • not violate the public morals or the public order of the country
  • be compatible with the required type of activity and the legal status of the company or business entity
  • not contain names of any religion, or governing authority, nor names or logos of any external bodies
  • not have been previously registered.
  • not have a name starting with words like "Universal", "Middle East", "International" and/or translate them into Arabic.

Apply for initial approval

Initial approval is a preliminary approval granted by the UAE Government to allow a foreign investor to proceed with setting up a business in the country.

It indicates that the government has no objection to the establishment of the business, but it does not give the business owner the authority to run or practice the business activity. 

Drafting a Memorandum of Association (MOA) / Local Service Agent Agreement (LSA)

Memorandum of Association is considered as the constitution of the business organization and is a mandatory document for company formation in UAE.

It will contain the details of the shareholders, board of members, regulations regarding the operation of the company, policies, safety and security aspects, and so on. MOA has to be submitted along with other documents for business formation in the UAE.

Kindly note that businesses owned completely by non-GCC residents require a Local Service Agent from the UAE. Appointing the local service agent will be under an agreement attested by the notary public or the court.

Get additional government approvals

Based on the specific type of your business you might require additional government approvals as well. 

It is better to have an experienced consultant by your side at this stage as they will help you in getting all the government approvals required for your business.

Apply for Business License

Once you have completed all the above steps it is now time to apply for the business license. The type of business license you will apply for depends on the primary activity of your business.

Once you have the business licence, you can start practicing business activities legally in Dubai.

You can collect the business licence from service centres of the economic departments or through their websites.

Documents required to register your small business in Dubai

You need to submit the  following documents for registering your company in Dubai:

  • Copy of the passport of the shareholders and directors
  • Copy of the national identity card of the directors and shareholders
  • Recent bank statements, credit card statements or utility bills containing the name and residential address of the shareholders and directors
  • Initial approval receipt and all the previously-submitted documents
  • Copy of the lease contract duly attested by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) in Dubai
  • Duly attested memorandum of association
  • Approvals from other government entities concerned, as may be required

Open a bank account

After obtaining all the registrations and approvals from the concerned authorities, the company needs to open a corporate bank account to send and receive money relating to the company’s affairs.

Cost to set up a business in Dubai

The cost to set up a business in Dubai varies based on factors like the type of company you are planning to register, government approvals, location, etc.

However, based on a rough calculation, it might cost you AED 15000 to 20000 to set up a business in Dubai.

Benefits of registering a company in Dubai

If you think the cost to set up a business in Dubai is high, this can be offset by the following benefits.

  • Exemption from personal or corporate income taxes
  • Allowance of 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Lenient labor laws make it cost-effective to recruit labor forces
  • Excellent physical infrastructure
  • Some of the FTZs provide shared and virtual office facilities 
  • Commercial company’s law provisions do not apply to FTZs
  • Exclusion from import and export duties

Time required to register a business in Dubai

Business registration in Dubai can be done within seven working days.

Check the status of company registration in Dubai

You can check if a company is registered in Dubai by visiting the Department of Economy & Tourism’s website in Dubai and clicking on “ Search License Information”


If you are planning to start a crypto business in Dubai, StartAnyBusiness is the first and only private company to provide 100% transparency in business registration in Dubai. 

You can submit the form below the answer section to reach out to us.

Note: All the information provided in this answer is based on the limited information available in the question. The exact steps to be followed, documents required, cost, time etc. may vary based on the specific requirement.
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