How to setup a Business in UAE mainland

UAE mainland business setup can prove to be difficult for the amateur. Apart from the abilities and business knowledge, you will also need to plan ahead the legal and governmental processes.

But, now that Department of Economic Development is the vital organization, UAE mainland business setup is rather easy. DED is the center that controls all the business operation activities of UAE mainland business setup.

Even with the helping hand of DED, there are still some actions that you need to take care off.

Below are the steps that can help you in UAE mainland business setup.


The primary step for UAE mainland business setup is to select the type of business activity you wish to conduct in the mainland.

The reason behind it is, in the mainland the activities require an approval license from the government to launch in the market. The license only depends on the type of business activity you select to set up.


After choosing the type of business that you wish to set up, now it is the time to decide the type of business firm you want to set up. To make it easy, let me give you some examples of the business forms – Sole proprietor, Branch of Dubai based company, Public shareholding company, Limited Liability Company and many more.

Tip – Before selecting a legal type, also consider the business type, activity, and number of owners, nationality of owners and other ownership options. It will help you sort out the many options that you have.


UAE mainland business setup requires you to team up with an UAE national. An Emirati needs to be your local sponsor for you to enter the mainland. As a result, the local sponsor owns 51% of business shares.

However, expat partner holds the 100% operative powers, not giving the power to affect the daily activities to the sponsor.


Now is the time to apply for the initial approval certificate. Applying for the initial approval certificate means to seek the permission of DED to start off a business. If DED issues the certificate, it indicates that DED does not have any objection regarding your business.

Receiving the approval certificate makes you a step closer for applying the business license.


After receiving the initial approval certificate, you need to draft your Memorandum of Association and Local Service Agent Agreement.