Start your business journey with

UAE’s # 1

Business Advisory & Consultancy since 2002

#Business Without Limits

Mainland Company Formation in UAE

ADAM Consulting – Your Partner in Business for Mainland Company Formation in the UAE

ADAM Consulting is a name trusted since 2002 for Companies like yours from all over the world to set up, scale & expand their business in the Middle East and specifically the United Arab Emirates. We put your ambitions at the center of everything we do and hold your hand throughout your business journey.

Quick Facts about the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates is a country situated on the end of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the states of Saudi Arabia and Oman as well as sharing a maritime border with Qatar and Iran.

The country is a federation of the seven emirates or cities and constitutes of Abu Dhabi (the capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain

The UAE enjoys a quite strategic location, substantial financial reserves, sizeable sovereign wealth fund, promising investor home economies as well as consistent government spending.

Foreign Direct investments contribute to a stable and progressive economy with the focus of the government being primarily on economic diversification.

Why Businesses are choosing UAE for their Mainland Company Formation

Long Term Value

UAE is ranked #1 regionally & #7 globally in terms of long term value creation of their resources among 62 other countries.


UAE’s Competitiveness is ranked # 1 worldwide across 23 indicators, including Government Decision and Global Talent.

Ease of Doing Business

UAE is ranked 1st in the Arab World and 11th internationally in the “Ease of Doing Business Report” published by World Bank that evaluated 190 countries across several factors.

Stable Economy

The UAE has a robust economic outlook moving away from the oil-driven economy by diversifying its income resources via the Vision 2021 strategy set forth by the ruler.

Government Spending & Support

The UAE has injected over 300 Billion AED to encourage economic growth via innovation initiatives. So far, over 100 Initiatives are ongoing, all promoting a versatile digital economy.

Excellent Arbitration System

The UAE laws outline the rights of every citizen and promote equality regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality or social position. It also has well-defined laws to protect the interest of business owners and their businesses

Safety & Security

The UAE is known to be one of the safest and most secure countries in the world. In an official survey conducted recently, over 96.1 % of citizens said they feel safe and secure in the country.

The Business Environment-Understanding Mainland Company Formation in UAE

What is Mainland in UAE?

In business essence, a mainland or onshore is defined as the total geographical area of land as defined by the UAE’s  Department of Economic Development (Abu Dhabi or Dubai DED) that legally allows private companies and their representatives to operate commercially.

A Mainland Company formation is incorporated based on a mandatory ownership structure with either a  49 % foreign ( i.e. you as the expat business partner) & 51% local sponsor (a UAE national) shareholder model or a 100 % foreign expat shareholder model with a UAE national appointed as the Local Service Agent. Mainland Company formation is also often referred to as onshore company formation.

A freezone entity, on the other hand, is an economic area where the trade of goods and services at typically a preferential tax and customs rate is permitted. The idea to launch free zones in the UAE was to attract and increase foreign companies to establish their presence in UAE leveraging on benefits such as 100 % foreign ownership. Currently, more than  45 free zones are operating in the UAE with Dubai taking the majority.

How to decide between mainland or Freezone company formation in the UAE?

Ideally, when you are thinking of starting a new business or setting up your foreign existing one in the UAE, you have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • 1. Do I want to conduct commercial activities inside and/or outside of UAE?
  • 2. Do I want to trade without any restrictions and freely in the UAE?
  • 3. Do I need a physical office space to conduct my activity or offer my services?

If any of your answers have been yes than ideally, mainland company formation is the definite answer. It is highly recommended to consult a professional who will be able to advise you in detail since the scope and activity of business will determine what type of mainland licence will be applicable.

List of Offshore Jurisdictions - In the UAE

There are currently three offshore jurisdictions in the United Arab Emirates. ADAM Consulting is an award-winning registered offshore agent for all three.


Dubai Offshore


Ras Al Khaima
International Business
Corporation (RAK IBC)



Overview of Benefits of a mainland company formation in UAE

By now, you would have a clear understanding of why entrepreneurs choose the UAE to start or expand their business. However, if you are still thinking of how setting up your business in the UAE with a mainland business licence can benefit you, you may not want to overlook the opportunities you can avail. The benefit include:

  • No Corporate Tax
  • 100 % Repatriation of capital and profits
  • Ability to trade locally and capture the UAE market
  • Ability to operate from any part of the UAE
  • No visa limits with a hassle-free process
  • Flexibility to choose an office location
  • Easy legal procedure
  • No currency restriction in Dubai Mainland Company

Many entrepreneurs want a mainland business set up to offer services to the local UAE based market as well as to leverage from obtaining government and semi-government projects.

What are the Types of Licences available for Mainland Company Formation in the UAE?

There is typically 4 type of business licences available for a mainland company formation in the UAE. You can choose:

Professional Licence

which allows you to provide services such as management consulting. As a business owner, you will have 100 % shares of the company with a UAE national appointed as the Local Service Agent.

Commercial Business Licence

if your business is commercially trading in goods, commodities or retail sales. As an expat business partner, you will own 49% of shares while the UAE national shareholder, also referred to as the “local sponsor” will own 51% of shares.

Industrial Licence

enables you to carry out large scale production and manufacturing processes. This licence also permits the packaging of products for sale. However, there are plenty of approvals from various authorities and institutions such as banks required. The ownership structure is the same as the one needed for a commercial business licence, i.e. 49 % Foreign-Owned and 51 % shares to UAE national.

Foreign Branch / Representative Office

falls under mainland company formation in the UAE and is set up to build your presence in the Middle East and UAE Market.

What is the Difference between Mainland Company formation and a Freezone in UAE?

To explain the difference visually, below is a table of comparison Mainland Company Formation vs Freezone

UAE Offshore Company Formation Comparison Chart

Mainland Company Freezone Company
Scope of Business Allowed to do unrestricted business inside and outside of UAE Allowed to do business only within the designated freezone or outside UAE. Often established by import and re-export businesses. Can only deliver service in UAE through a mainland distribution agent
Ownership 1. 49% Shares to Expat Partner & 51% Shares to UAE National or
2. 100 % to expat partner in professional licence and UAE National appointed as Local Service Agent
100 % Foreign ownership
Office Requirement Min.of 200 sqft/licence on an Annual tenancy contract basis (Ejari) issued by the Land Department. Physical office is not mandatory. Can use Flexi or smart desk provided by Freezone business centres.
Visa No limits on visas and granted to mainland company based on available office space through an E-quota system by the Ministry of Labour. Depending on the freezone and package availed visas can range from 2-6 visas. To avail more visas, office space is required.
Type of Approvals required Relevant DED (Department of Economic Development), Dubai Municipality (DM), Ministry of Labor (MOL) Dept. of Naturalization and Residency Affairs, Immigration.
Some business activities require additional approvals such as Dubai Health Authority, Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Food Dept., Civil Defense, Real Estate Regulation authority
No approvals required other than in special business activities. Please consult our experts.

The Process of Mainland Company Formation-

How to start your business in Mainland

At ADAM Consulting, we guide you through each step of your business journey. Although the process is quite detailed, below is an 8 Step Process highlighting the essential incorporation procedure for your mainland company formation in the UAE.



Choose your business type



Determine legal form of entity



Register Tradename with DED



Obtain DED initial approval



Choose a business location



Get other relevant authorities approval



Get your business Licence



Obtain Chamber membership

How Can ADAM Consulting Assist me in an Offshore Company Formation in the UAE?

ADAM Consulting is an award-winning registered offshore agent with all three offshore jurisdictions in the UAE. Our experts are all highly experienced consultants who have assisted clients from all over the world in order to optimize tax, protect their assets and advise on foreign business opportunities. ADAM Consulting is a pioneering trusted name in the UAE since 2002.

We do not simply assist in the incorporation of business but hold your hand throughout your business journey. We offer ;

  • Complimentary advise and bespoke consultancy with a highly experienced business advisor
  • Registered Office with PO Box
  • Registered agent
  • Preparation of Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Preparation of Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Preparation of Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Preparation of Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Filing with the registrar of companies
  • Ongoing support locally as well as internationally

Ready to Setup Your Business ?

Register to Get Free Expert Advice

Frequently Asked Question on Mainland Company Formation in UAE

All you need to know about mainland company formation in the UAE. Browse through this section to get a quick overview or Schedule a consultation with an expert business advisor

A mainland or onshore is defined as the total geographical area of land as defined by the UAE’s Department of Economic Development (Abu Dhabi or Dubai DED) that legally allow private companies and their representatives to operate commercially. Dubai Mainland is the same area that is defined by the Department of Economic Development in Dubai (DED).
DED stands for the Department of Economic Development and is the authority that is responsible for issuing businesses with a trade licence.
A local service agent, also often referred to as an LSA is a UAE National (Emirati) who is free from all kind of civil duties or financial obligations to the company. The Local service agent will by law never interfere in administrative matters and the day to day operation, profits and losses of the business. The LSA’s sole responsibility is to ensure to deal with all public, i.e. governmental affairs and the facilitation of the renewals.
A local sponsor is a local partner to your business and requires by law to be a UAE national who is entitled to 51% shares of the company. Usually, if your mainland company will conduct trading or industrial activities, a local sponsor is mandatory, and the company will be an LLC Company, i.e. Limited liability Company. We can arrange trusted local sponsors for your business in the UAE.
Legally yes, but interference and taking control over your business affairs can happen if your business is not structured right. Advisors at ADAM Consulting can advise you on company structuring and guide you in ways that will enable you to be always in control of your business.
In case your local sponsor passes away, then 51% of the shares will be passed on to the heir who may wish to either reconsider business terms and be more involved or continue to be a nominee shareholder. However, ADAM Consulting offers corporate sponsorship for your business that safeguards the interest of your company providing you increased financial freedom.
An LLC stands for Limited Liability Company and is among the most common types of companies in the UAE. The shareholders are limited by their shares in the business capital. An LLC Company in UAE can have a minimum of 2-50 shareholders.
The cost can vary on the type of business, the type of local sponsorship and location of your business. Usually, this can range from AED 15,000 to AED 50,000.
No, you do not pay any personal or corporate tax except for a 5 % duty while importing goods to the UAE.
Although your presence is required to sign in front of the notary public on the incorporation documents, you may have an alternate option by giving ADAM Consulting a Power of Attorney. You have to get the Power of Attorney attested by the UAE embassy in your country so we can proceed with the incorporation process of your company without your physical presence in the UAE.
No, you have to apply separately to open a bank account. However, this should be a relatively straightforward process if your documents are complete. Our Consultants can facilitate bank account opening for you.
A residence visa allows you to live and work in the UAE. If you wish to employ staff in your company, the manager of your company is required to hold a valid residence visa.

Have Questions?

Start your business journey with UAE’s # 1 Business Advisory since 2002

or Call +971 4341 9701