Setting Up a Company in Dubai: Different Structures

Company in Dubai

When considering company setup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it’s essential to understand the different available company options to choose the one that best fits your needs and goals. The United Arab Emirates offers a range of business structures, each with its own advantages and limitations. In this article, we’ll explore the five main types of companies in the United Arab Emirates, namely Mainland, Freezone, Offshore, Foundation, and Freelance.

Mainland Company in Dubai

The Mainland, is a company option in the United Arab Emirates that allows for business activity within the local market. Mainland businesses are typically registered with the Department of Economic Development (DED) of the respective emirate. Key advantages of Mainland include the ability to do business across the United Arab Emirates and the diversity of permitted business activities. However, a Mainland company usually requires a local partner, although some recent structures allow for 100% foreign ownership.

The Mainland company enables you to operate your business across the emirates without geographical limitations.

Freezone Company

Freezones are special economic zones created to encourage foreign investment. They offer 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and simplified regulations. Each Freezone usually has a specific area of expertise, attracting businesses from particular sectors such as technology, finance, logistics, and more. These zones are ideal for companies looking to benefit from tax advantages and operate internationally.

This type of company is termed a resident company as it allows you to obtain residency in the Emirates, gives you the ability to hire staff but limits you geographically.

Distinguishing between a Freezone company and a Mainland company can be tricky, especially since as of 2021, it is no longer mandatory to have an Emirati partner for a Mainland company. Learn more about setting up a company in Dubai with company setup in Dubai.

Offshore Company

Offshore companies in the United Arab Emirates are primarily used for business activities outside the country. These entities are registered in offshore jurisdictions such as Ras Al Khaimah or Jebel Ali Free Zone. Benefits include transaction privacy, ownership flexibility, and tax exemptions. Offshore companies are commonly used for wealth management, international investment, and asset holding.

The offshore company can be seen as a non-resident company or used to hold assets. However, this type of company does not entitle you to residency in the United Arab Emirates.

Freelance Permit

If you are a freelancer or self-employed professional, setting up a Freelance business can be a wise option. This structure is designed for individuals who want to provide services as independent contractors. Benefits include simplified management, limited liability, and the ability to work with various clients without the restrictions of a traditional business entity.

Freelancing is not a company but a permit used for service provision. This permit entitles you to residency in the United Arab Emirates.


A Foundation in the United Arab Emirates is a legal structure suitable for philanthropic, educational, or family purposes. It allows a founder to create an entity to manage and distribute assets to specific beneficiaries. Foundations offer great flexibility and asset protection, making them attractive for family wealth management and charitable initiatives.

In conclusion, the United Arab Emirates offers a variety of business structures to meet the diverse needs of entrepreneurs and investors. The choice between Mainland, Freezone, Offshore, Foundation, or Freelance will depend on your business, goals, and preferences regarding ownership and taxation. Consulting local experts in business law is essential to make the best decision for your company in the United Arab Emirates.

Maximize your opportunities by collaborating with FreeZoneMarket to explore offshore, Freezone, or local company setup opportunities in Dubai. Depending on your goals, a dedicated advisor will present solutions and assist you throughout the process. Schedule an appointment via email