A Step-by-Step Look at 100% Ownership in Dubai for Business Owners

100% Ownership in Dubai | Feature Image

Dubai has been a center of international business for many years, but recently, it has become even more welcoming to foreign investors. 

The story of allowing 100% foreign ownership for onshore company setups in Dubai has just begun, but it already has one chapter – perhaps the most important one. In this article, we will be talking about how it all started and who initiated this change. 

Before November 2020, running a foreign business on the mainland in Dubai would require a local Emirati as the company’s partner. Normally, the partner would get a share of 51%, and the foreign investor would have 49%. Although this was only on paper, it did make several entrepreneurs hesitant. 

However, the wave of changes started at the end of November 2020. In a landmark decree, the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, paved the way for a more open business environment and removed the compulsion of having a local Emirati as the partner. The decree amended the Commercial Companies Law, setting the stage for its implementation in June 2021. 

So, if you want to start a business in Dubai mainland, there couldn’t be a better time! Speak to a top business setup company in Dubai, such as CorpCreators, to find out more. If you are still wondering why this is a big deal, here are some details and benefits!

Benefit of Having 100% Ownership in Dubai for Your Business

  • Full Control: You make the calls! No more negotiating with a local partner – you have complete autonomy over your business decisions and operations.
  • Simplified Setup: Gone are the days of searching for a local partner. This streamlines the business formation process, saving you time and effort.
  • Dubai: Even More Appealing This move makes Dubai an even more attractive destination for foreign investors seeking a dynamic and business-friendly environment.

Hold on, Here are Some Important Details to Consider

  • Exceptions Exist: Certain strategic sectors or activities might still have Emirati participation requirements. Research your chosen business activity to ensure there are no ownership limitations.
  • Free Zones Remain an Option: Dubai’s free zones have historically offered 100% foreign ownership with additional perks like tax exemptions. Consider if a free zone better suits your business needs.

Taking the First Step

The dream of owning a 100% foreign-owned business in Dubai is now a reality. Here’s how you can turn this dream into action:

  1. Seek Expert Guidance: Partner with reputable business setup consultants in UAE. They can guide you through the entire process, ensuring you meet all legal requirements and navigate any potential restrictions.
  2. Research Regulations: Conduct thorough research on the specific regulations governing your chosen business activity. This will help you avoid any unforeseen hurdles.

With careful planning and the right support, you can successfully leverage the 100% foreign ownership policy to establish your business in Dubai and contribute to the region’s thriving entrepreneurial landscape.

Additionally, this new policy builds upon a series of reforms undertaken by the UAE government to enhance the ease of doing business in the country. These reforms include:

  • Long-Term Visas: Long-term visas have made it easier for expatriates to live and work in the UAE.
  • Freehold Market Expansion: The opening of the freehold market in Abu Dhabi allows foreign nationals to invest in property across a wider range of areas.
  • Golden Visa: The Golden Visa program attracts prominent investors, entrepreneurs, and individuals with exceptional talents to establish themselves in the UAE.

By embracing these reforms, the UAE is solidifying its position as a global leader in attracting foreign investment and fostering a thriving business environment.

So, How to Get 100% Foreign Ownership in Dubai as a Business Owner?

100% Ownership in Dubai | Image

1. Check if Your Activity Qualifies:

While the law allows   100% ownership in Dubai for most businesses, some strategic sectors may still require Emirati participation. Research your chosen business activity to confirm there are no ownership limitations.

2. Decide Between Mainland and Free Zone Business Setup:

  • Mainland: Offers 100% ownership for many activities, but requires navigating local regulations and obtaining business licenses.
  • Free Zone: Traditionally offered 100% ownership with additional benefits like tax exemptions, but may have specific industry focuses or limitations. Consider which setup best suits your business needs.

Partner with a Business Formation Agency Such as CorpCreators:

This is highly recommended! So that you can be:

  • Guided you through the entire process.
  • Ensure you meet all legal requirements.
  • Help navigate potential restrictions.

Prepare the Necessary Documents:

The specific documents will vary depending on your chosen business setup (Mainland or Free Zone) and activity. Your business formation agency can advise you on what’s required. Generally, expect to provide: 

  • Passport copies of all shareholders.
  • Business plan.
  • Feasibility study (might be required).

Apply for the Trade License:

Once you have your business structure established and documents prepared, you’ll need to apply for the relevant trade license through the DED (Mainland) or the Free zone authority (Free Zone).

Open a Corporate Bank Account:

You’ll need a corporate bank account to manage your business finances. Your business formation agency can also assist with this step.

Obtain Residency Visas (Optional):

While not mandatory for 100% ownership, you may want to consider residency visas for yourself and your employees if you plan to live and work in Dubai.


  • The process can involve legal and administrative steps, so having a business formation agency such as CorpCreators as your partner is crucial.
  • Research your chosen business activity thoroughly to understand any specific ownership requirements.

By following these steps and seeking professional guidance, you can successfully navigate the process of establishing a 100% foreign-owned business in Dubai.

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