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Top 10 Free Zones for Business Setup in the UAE

Top 10 Free Zones for Business Setup in the UAE

Over the past few years, the UAE has undergone significant growth in industrial development, and the main credit for this substantial accomplishment goes to Free Trade Zones (FTZ). The UAE (United Arab Emirates) has various free zones that provide a favourable atmosphere to set up businesses. These Free Zones were established by the Special Decree passed by the Ruler of the Emirates and have been highly effective in attracting a significant number of foreign companies and FDI. Along with a substantial growth in net exports, the share of Free Zones in non-oil exports is also rising. Below is the list of the top 10 free zones to set up a business in UAE:

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)

This free zone functions as an entity of government with an objective to enhance the city’s commodity trade flows. It offers a unique platform for participants across metal and numerous commodities industries. It facilitates the trading of specific commodities, a diamond exchange and a gold trade to come together. DMCC not only provides the usual free zone services but also offers businesses an opportunity to buy their own space.

Features:

  1. In order to establish stability and promote security for the investments, it offers the businesses an additional advantage of freehold ownership of their commercial buildings.
  2. The business operating in DMCC engages in the trade of a variety of commodities ranging from gold and diamonds to other precious metals and coloured stones.
  3. To promote long-term growth and create an attractive environment for investments, the DMCC provides for a 50-year tax holiday.
  4. DMCC includes a Diamond Exchange (DDE) that makes it a central location for all transactions related to diamonds.

Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA)

JAFZA is located in the Emirate of Dubai and was established by Decree No.1 of 1985. Over 7,000 companies, including several Fortune 500s, have established their presence within the Jebel Ali Free Zone. Here are some features of this free zone that will help you decide whether to set up your business in the free zone or not:

Features:

  1. It offers exceptional support service provided by the two modes terminals of the Dubai Ports Authority.
  2. Its strategic location is further benefitted by its close proximity to the recently established AI Maktoum International Airport.
  3. The Lease Periods are flexible, i.e., 10 years for trading activities and 15 years for manufacturing activities.
  4. It allows for a wide range of activities such as packaging, assembling, manufacturing, import/export, processing, distribution, storage and various other services.
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Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone)

 It is located in Sharjah and makes use of the excellent location that links East and West. SAIF Zone has access to an enormous marketplace of 1.4 billion consumers due to Sharjah’s exceptional sea, land and aviation links. What makes its location more beneficial and attractive to businesses is its proximity to Port Khalid and Sharjah City.

Features:

  1. It provides adequate access to multiple transit options that enable the businesses operating in the SAIF Zone to engage in seamless international trade operations.
  2. It is the only airport-free zone in the world that has been given ISO certification.
  3. It helps businesses to engage in smooth global trade as they enjoy convenient access to ports located in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA):

 This Free Zone is located at a prime location, i.e., Dubai International Airport and attracts businesses dealing in luxury items, jewellery, IT products and other services related to the aviation industry. It is a wholly owned entity of the Dubai Government and was established under Law No. 2 of 1996.

Features:

  1. It is strategically located within the boundaries of DIA.
  2. As it is located within the boundaries of the airport, it provides speedy and systematic cargo cleaning services.
  3. It allows for a wide range of activities such as packaging, assembling, manufacturing, import/export, processing, distribution, storage and various other services.
  4. It goes the extra mile by providing online customer services.
  5. It also hosts International Freight Forwarders and several Logistics companies.

Dubai Science Park (DSP)

It is the first Free zone in the area dedicated to supporting the science sector’s entire value chain. The main goal of DSP is to support scientific SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses), entrepreneurs and MNCs.  It goes one step ahead of conventional commercial setups by offering ample space for laboratories and offices along with an active community for its residents. This is a strategic approach that provides a supportive environment where businesses can grow, resulting in long-lasting gains and advancements across a range of industries.

Features:

  1. It provides a favourable business environment as the business operating in DSP enjoys 100% tax exemption, and 100% foreign ownership is also allowed.
  2. No customs duties are to be paid by the businesses operating within the DSP.
  3. It guarantees full currency convertibility.
  4. DSP provides an encouraging business climate in the field of life sciences.

Ajman Free Zone (AFZ)

 It is a vital player that serves both Western and Eastern Markets due to its unique location near the Arabian Gulf’s entrance. Not only is it near the Arabian Gulf’s entrance but it is also located near Dubai and Sharjah, providing companies with easy access to four ports and two international airports.

Features:

  1. AJZ stands apart due to the economic advantages it offers, ranging from an affordable wage structure to a seamless link to a huge workforce.
  2. It offers a transparent environment to the companies by removing all the hidden fees and service charges.
  3. It offers a flexible lease period that can extend up to 20 years.
  4. It allows for a wide range of activities such as packaging, assembling, manufacturing, import/export, processing, distribution, storage and various other services.
  5. This flexible and transparent business environment serves a variety of industries and fosters a climate that is ideal for the growth of business.
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Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM):

ADGM is spread over 114 hectares of land on Al Maryah Island and was set up by a Federal Decree of the UAE. It has received acknowledgement from major financial hubs worldwide due to its favourable business climate that adheres to international standards. It is an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s economic vision and acts as an engine for the development of the thriving financial services industry in the UAE.

Features:

  1. It offers a tax-friendly climate as there are no limitations on profit repatriation for the companies operating within the zone.
  2. It acts as a key component in Abu Dhabi’s aspiration growth strategy by offering companies an innovative and business-friendly environment.
  3. It provides a seamless digital application process.

Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ)

RAKEZ was founded by His Highness Sheikh Said bin Saqr Al Qasmi in April 2017 and is spread over an area of 33 million sq m housing over 13000 businesses. This makes it one of the most wide-ranging economic zones in the UAE. It strengthens its investors and clients by offering a cost-effective and top-notch economic zone.  It is strategically located in the area that connects investors to the growing economies of North Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. It demonstrates RAKEZ’s persistent attempts to encourage economic development and global trade.

Features:

  1. It allows for the provision to build labour and staff accommodations on-site.
  2. It connects to major logistical centres through multilane superhighways and aids in improving the accessibility for the businesses operating within the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone.
  3. It allows for a wide variety of companies and value-added services, hence providing an exhaustive environment for a wide range of businesses.
  4. It provides complete ownership to the companies who want to set up their businesses in the zone, along with a simplified process for quick business set-up.
  5. Its strategic location allows businesses to easily access the markets in North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
  6. It provides a network of regional offices that helps businesses engage in global trade conveniently and expand their operations over a period of time.

Fujairah Free Zone (FFZ)

FFZ was set up in the Emirate of Fujairah by Law No. 6 of 1987 at a prime location, i.e., right next to the Port of Fujairah. This prime location provides businesses operating in this zone with convenient access to every single port in the Arabian Gulf. One of the added advantages of its location is its close proximity to the International Airport of Fujairah, which helps businesses conveniently connect with the UAE’s East Coast and Northern Oman. As it is located in close proximity to Fujairah Port, it offers convenient access to every port in the Arabian Gulf.

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Features:

  1. Its strategic location promotes a thriving and well-connected business climate.
  2. It provides easy access to the international and neighbouring markets through land, sea and air routes.
  3. The companies operating within the Fujairah Free Zone enjoy the double advantage of being supported by Fujairah International Airport and Fujairah Port. This makes business operations simpler and more convenient.
  4. It offers a flexible lease period of up to 15 years that helps companies make plans for the long term.
  5. It provides a welcoming and adaptable business environment by allowing a wide range of activities such as packaging, assembling, manufacturing, import/export, processing, distribution, storage and various other services.

 Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA):

DSO is an international cooperative endeavour that connects major companies that have had a significant impact on the semi-conductor industry. DSO is spread over an area of 6.5 million sq m and is the only industrial park built exclusively for the semiconductor industry. It has established Dubai as a Central hub for future developments in the field of semi-conductors. It emerges as an excellent choice for the international semi-conductor industry as it provides an extensive list of amenities needed for success in the constantly evolving business climate.

Features:

  1. It consists of a top-notch campus and an exceptionally planned layout. This makes this a perfect spot for businesses related to semi-conductors all across the globe.
  2. One of the most distinctive features of DSO is the centralised hub that houses all the sellers and service providers under a single roof. This facility improves the efficiency and also saves a substantial amount of money.
  3. It acts as a home to all the businesses around the globe dealing in semiconductors, which makes it a major force in promoting advancement and innovation in the semiconductor industry.

Conclusion

Over the past few years, the UAE has experienced tremendous industrial growth and has become an international powerhouse. Free Trade Zones established in the country have played a significant role in this remarkable journey. These FTZs were created by the rulers of the Emirates through special decrees, encouraging a business-friendly atmosphere that attracts both local as well as global companies. This has reduced the reliance of the UAE economy on oil and has led to its diversification over the past couple of years. In conclusion, it can be said that FTZs in the UAE have emerged as catalysts of its industrial growth and innovation, which has made the UAE a popular name among global investors. These zones support a wide variety of industries and create a business-friendly environment favourable for businesses operating within these Free Trade Zones. These zones have not only fostered the industrial development of the UAE but have also provided businesses with the flexibility and resources to succeed in a rapidly changing global landscape. The focus on innovations in these zones has put the UAE in a favourable position as a hub of new technologies, research, development and innovation that adheres to International Standards.

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