Business owners/Entrepreneurs
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Dubai: If you are thinking of starting a business in the UAE, there are several factors that you need to consider before you begin the start-up process. Which type of licence do you need? Can you own 100 per cent of the company? Where do you need to go to start the process?

Online platforms set up by economic departments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi make the process of knowing what you need to do easier – from breaking down the legalities and procedures that need to be followed, to facilitating the set-up process and allowing entrepreneurs to complete most steps online.

So, if you want to take the first step towards making your dream business a reality, here’s how you can start.

What is the ‘legal form’ of a business?

The legal form of a company mainly depends on the business’s requirements and forms the basis for identifying applicable laws and regulations for the business, according to the official UAE government website –

In the UAE, an investor can select one of these legal forms:

• General partnership
• Limited partnership
• Limited liability company (LLC)
• Public joint stock company (PJSC)
• Private joint stock company (PrJSC)
• Civil company
• Local company branch
• GCC company branch
• Foreign company branch
• Free zone company branch
• Sole establishment
• Holding companies.

So, which of these legal forms would best suit your business? Here are two online tools that can help.

Invest in Dubai

If you plan to start your business in Dubai, you can get the licence requirements by visiting the link - and providing the following information:

1. Provide your business idea

You can provide your business idea, where you can select the type of business you will run from the list of business activities approved by the Dubai Economic Department (DED). This could be a restaurant, sports events management or buying and selling real estate.

2. Fill in partner details

Next, you will be asked to provide the number of partners in the business, as well as their nationalities (Emirati, GCC national or expat).

The platform will then tell you about the type of business licence you can apply for as well as the cost of the business licence based on your selection.

If you are ready to start your business set up process, you can then click on ‘Start now’ under the questions ‘Ready to start your business?’

The website will then redirect you to the business set-up service within the Invest in Dubai platform.

Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, the government services platform allows aspiring business owners to find out which type of a business licence they will need to start running their venture. Follow these steps to know exactly which ‘legal form’ your business will fall under:

1. Visit

2. Click on ‘Start’. You will be asked to sign in through your UAE Pass account.

3. Answer a few questions about whether you are the owner of the business, or a representative of the business, how many partners the company has. You will then be provided with the type of business licence you should apply for.

According to, there are three possible legal forms you can choose from:

1. Establishment - this form is appropriate for businesses with one owner. The owner can be of any nationality, but for a non-GCC owner, a local sponsor is required to be assigned.

2. Sole Proprietorship LLC - this form is appropriate for businesses with one owner. The owner must be an Emirati or GCC national. A general manager is required to be assigned.

3. Limited Liability Company (LLC) - this form is appropriate for a business with more than one owner. A general manager is required to be assigned. You will also be required to enter details of each owner, including their percentage share in the business. If there is any non-GCC owner, Emiratis must own a minimum of 51 per cent of the business.

Once you have a better idea of the type of business licence you would need to apply for, you can then go ahead with the process of setting up your business.

To know more about how you become a business owner in Abu Dhabi, read our detailed guide here.