AmCham Abu Dhabi “Business Launchpad”
The AmCham Abu Dhabi Business Launchpad is an innovative service that helps individuals and companies to quickly set up, expand or improve business operations in the UAE. At AmCham Abu Dhabi we are committed to supporting our members with the most valuable services to succeed in growing their business and profit.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What are Public Relations Officer (PRO) services?
PRO services are government and regulatory liaison support activities to assist with legal requirements to operate, work and live in the UAE. These requests are dealt with correctly to reduce any unnecessary risks or detrimental consequences for businesses and their employees. To legally live and work in the UAE, every employee needs a residence visa and a work permit, which is required to open a bank account, enter into a residential lease, connect to utilities such as electricity, and obtain an Emirates ID. To legally operate in the UAE, all companies need to have a trade license.
2. How do I setup up a business in the UAE?
Each Emirate has different business setup regulatory requirements, entry costs and set up fees and it is therefore important to research the pros and cons of each location for your business type. The most common legal structures for foreign businesses in the UAE are:
- A Professional License or an Establishment (owned by one person)
- A Limited Liability Company or LLC (owned by two or more people, or corporates)
- A Branch of a foreign company (100% owned by a foreign company with a National Service Agent)
- A Free Zone company (100% owned without an agent or sponsor)
The rules, regulations and fees vary widely and will be based on the type of activity and nature of business activity. One needs to ascertain what type of legal form is appropriate and then investigate which authority issues that business license.
3. Do foreign investors need a local sponsor?
A local sponsor/partner is not required when setting up business in a Free Zone – the Free Zone itself effectively becomes the local sponsor and all government liaison and property related matters will have to go through them. If one is to set up an Onshore LLC (or a Branch or Establishment) an individual Emirati national or a 100% Emirati owned company as a partner or sponsor is required to register the business.
Within an LLC structure, 51% of the shares need to be owned by the local Emirati partner or UAE corporate partner, however this does not mean that the same proportion of profits must follow. An agreement with the local partner can stipulate that most of the profits and management control is retained by the Foreign Party owning 49%.
An Establishment can be owned 100% by a foreign individual however they must have a UAE national (or a UAE company) acting as a service agent for the Establishment.
A Foreign Branch similarly can be owned 100% by a foreign company with a local UAE National or UAE company acting as the National Service Agent (NSA).
4. How long does it take to setup a business in the UAE?
To setup a business in the UAE largely depends on the nature and type of business. The average time is eight (8) weeks from the submission of a complete set of attested and notarized company documents.
5. Do I need to have an office in the UAE?
Yes. A trade license will not be issued without a commercial premises lease and official business address. In Abu Dhabi, the minimum space is 14 sqm and in Dubai it is 18.5 sqm – the space must normally have an external door and will need to be inspected for compliance.
Free Zones offer various options of renting flexible-desks to warehouses.
The size of the office will broadly dictate the number of staff one can have and some activities will need specific office types and locations – for example retail activities will need a ground floor office with a shop front and training facilities are a minimum of 100 sqm with a 30 sqm training room.
6. What employment solutions are available?
All UAE residents need to have a residence visa and work permit. It is illegal to work without a work permit or labor card.
Work permits are valid for two (2) years for a mainland company and three (3) years for a Free Zone company and are issued to employees sponsored by a registered company as follows.
A labor card is issued to an employee sponsored by their spouse and to a UAE national.
A temporary work permit allows for temporary or part-time work valid for one year renewable in the following instances:
- Employees registered at the Ministry who hold valid labor cards
- Persons who meet the conditions to be granted work permits based on the residency of their families
- Students over 18 years of age
- Government employees
Temporary work permits may not be issued to a non-national employee over 65 years of age.
7. Does it help to have local advice when setting up a business?
Finding correct and reliable local advice can save an enormous amount of time, money and alleviate a great deal of stress.
Our Business Launchpad acts as a bridge to help you to explore, enter and expand in a foreign market so that you can focus on what it is you want to achieve.
Our member companies are ready to provide foreign companies and investors with advice on the most efficient and profitable way to set up your business in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the wider UAE.
The UAE is a great place to do business and connect with other people in a similar industry. The AmCham Abu Dhabi Business Launchpad is an ideal platform to network and gain expert advice and in-depth knowledge from our members.
If you have any further questions or would like to learn more about the AmCham Abu Dhabi "Business Launchpad", please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 02 631 3604.