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List of free-trade zones in the United Arab Emirates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Free-trade zones in the United Arab Emirates are areas that have a special tax, customs and import regime, and are governed by their own framework of regulations (with the exception of UAE criminal law).


The UAE has a number of free zones across Dubai,[1] Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain. Free zones may be broadly categorized as seaport free zones, airport free zones, and mainland free zones. Free-trade zone exemptions are:[2]

  • 100% foreign ownership of the enterprise
  • 100% import and export tax exemptions
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • Corporate tax exemptions for up to 50 years
  • No personal income taxes
  • Assistance with labor recruitment, and additional support services, such as sponsorship and housing.

Each Free Zone is designed around one or more strict industry categories. An independent Free Zone Authority (FZA) governs each free zone, and is the agency responsible for issuing FTZ operating licenses and assisting companies with establishing their business in the FTZ. Each free zone has its own specific requirements regarding minimum capital requirements, office or warehouse space and permitted activities; with each possessing the relevant licenses and adequate legislation to enable their dedicated industry to flourish.

Investors can either register a new company in the form of a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) or simply establish a branch or representative office of their existing or parent company based within the UAE or abroad. An FZE is a limited liability company governed by the rules and regulations of the Free Zone in which it is established. Except for acquiring nationality in the UAE, the provisions of the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) do not apply to FZEs, provided that the Free Zones have special provisions regulating such companies.

Free zone companies can run business within the relevant zone or outside the UAE. Some free zones (including ADGM, JAFZA, DMCC, RAK FTZ) allow for inward redomiciliation of foreign companies, which means a transfer of a corporate seat of an existing company from abroad to the UAE free zone.[3]

There are a few Free Zones in UAE that offer Dual Business License[4] for investors.[5] It is expected to allow them to do business in the Free Zone[6] as well as in the mainland of UAE using the same business license. For Example, Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) Free Zone[7] offers a Dual License for the investors enabling them to easily offer services in the mainland[8] and Free Zone together.[9]

Free zones[edit]

The Microsoft sign at the entrance of the Dubai Microsoft campus, Dubai Internet City
Dubai Maritime City, Dubai under construction in 2008

There are 46 Free Zones operating in UAE. [10] The number is now 47 with the recently established Sharjah Communication Technologies Free Zone[11]

Abu Dhabi
Dubai [12]

Ras Al Khaimah


Umm Al Quwain

Free zones under construction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tariq, Warda (May 22, 2024). "Which free zones are best for business setup in UAE?". Emirates Business Setup. UAE: Warda. Retrieved May 22, 2024.
  2. ^ Petch, Neil. "Benefits of UAE Free Trade Zones". Virtuzone.
  3. ^ "Formation of Free Zone Companies in the UAE". Uniwide. Retrieved 2024-04-25.
  4. ^ "Mainland Company Formation in Dubai, UAE - Setup and Licensing". firmz.ae. 2024-02-08. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  5. ^ "Dual Business License in the Free Zone". aurionuae.com. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  6. ^ "UAE Freezone Company Formation| Freezone Business Setup". Centriz Corporate Services. Retrieved 2024-04-18.
  7. ^ "SPC Free Zone - Sharjah Publishing City Company Setup and License". firmz.ae. 2024-01-25. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  8. ^ "Setup your Business in the UAE | Set your Business in Dubai, UAE". firmz.ae. 2024-01-30. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  9. ^ "Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone offers a Dual License for the investors". dubaifreezonecompany.com.
  10. ^ "45 free zones in the UAE: Find the right one for your new business". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  11. ^ a b Hazem, Hussein; Muhammad, Aamir (1 July 2024). "Sharjah Ruler establishes Sharjah Communication Technologies Free Zone". WAM. Retrieved 7 July 2024.
  12. ^ "Top 13 areas for new businesses in Dubai". Shuraa Business Setup. 2020-11-15. Retrieved 2021-03-29.