Free-Trade Zones in Dubai


Free-trade zones in the United Arab Emirates are areas that have a special tax, customs and imports regime and are governed by their own framework of regulations (with the exception of UAE criminal law). The UAE has several free zones across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al Khaimah and Um Al Qwain. Free zones may be broadly categorized as sea port free zones, airport free zones, and mainland free zones. Free-trade zone exemptions are:

  • Corporate tax exemptions for up to 50 years
  • 100% foreign ownership of the enterprise
  • 100% import and export tax exemptions
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • 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 business industry categories and only offers licenses to companies within those 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.

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.

Dubai Free Zones

1. Dubai Academic City

Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) was launched in April 2007 to cater to the needs of the region’s growing and diverse academic community. Home to numerous regional and international colleges and universities, it serves over 24,000 students from all around the world. With more than 400 undergraduate and post-graduate programmes currently offered to students, DIAC continues to expand and grow as per the needs of its robust and talented academic community.

2. Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA)


DAFZA is one of the most prestigious and advanced freezones in Dubai. We provide an ideal base to do business in the middle east by providing a business-friendly environment, world class infrastructure, tax exemptions, full repatriation of earning, total ownership and exceptional facilities. Strategically located next to the Dubai International Airport we boast, rapid clearance and fast processing of paperwork to maximize business activity and efficiency.

Setting up your business at DAFZA means joining one of the fastest growing Free Zones in the UAE. Strategically located adjacent to the Dubai International Airport, businesses in DAFZA leverage unique benefits in market access, tax exemptions, and world-class facilities.

3. Dubai Biotechnology & Research Park (DuBiotech)

DuBiotech, or the Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park, is a science park development in the city of Dubai. It has been under construction since the official launch in February 2005 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice-president and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

This project forms a major part of the Dubai 2010 vision to base the city’s economy on a more knowledge-based footing. It is expected to attract more biotechnology/life science research, development and manufacturing to the country.

The new research park will be the world’s first biotech park free-zone. It will offer major tax advantages and services such as 50 years’ exemption from personal, income and corporate taxes, long-term land leases, 100% foreign ownership, state-of-the-art IT and telecommunications infrastructure, 100% repatriation of profits, trouble-free incorporation with little formality, government services division for registration, fast-track immigration and customs procedures.

DuBiotech is a subsidiary of the Government of Dubai’s holding company, Dubai Holding and a member of Tecom Investments. DuBiotech Park, which was set up under the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority, is being built on a 300ha area with an estimated cost of about Dh130m for the infrastructure, and Dh600m for the lab and headquarters buildings.

The DuBiotech entity will have two operating arms: the first is a Foundation for Research and Innovation focusing on government-funded R&D in a number of important areas (medicine, genetics, agriculture, stem cell research); and the second will aim to set up biotech clusters with high-quality infrastructure for incubators, research labs, manufacturing facilities and educational facilities.

4. Dubai Car and Automotive City Free Zone (DUCAMZ)

DUCAMZ was established in April 200, with the objective of re-exporting used cars to the Asian and African markets. JAFZA is charged with the supervision of DUCAMZ. Its responsibilities include providing companies with all assistance required.
Free zone is located within Dubai and has easy access to all airports and seaports in the region.

5. Dubai Design District

Dubai Design District (d3) has been developed through careful consultation with the design community to provide a creative ecosystem that surpasses the expectations of a typical creative neighbourhood. d3 forges the inspiring, authentic, and relevant ideas shaping Dubai’s future as a leading destination of design, art, and culture. It has its own beating heart, its own spirit and its own very personal style.

d3 is home to the region’s growing community of creative thinkers. It is being built as part of the Dubai Plan 2021 using the Smart City principles which offer digital connectivity to create an innovation-led economy.

6. Dubai Gold and Diamond Park

Dubai Gold and Diamond Park is located in Dubai, UAE. It was established in May 2001. Spreading 511,343 Sq.feet (Phase 1), it is located on Sheikh Zayed Road, 23.5 km from Dubai International Airport. The park is an extension of the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

7. Dubai Healthcare City

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) is a free zone committed to creating a health and wellness destination.

Since its launch in 2002 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the free zone has worked towards its vision to become an internationally recognized location of choice for quality healthcare and an integrated center of excellence for clinical and wellness services, medical education and research.

Located in the heart of Dubai, the world’s largest healthcare free zone comprises two phases. Phase 1, dedicated to healthcare and medical education, occupies 4.1 million square feet in Oud Metha, and Phase 2, which is dedicated to wellness, occupies 22 million square feet in Al Jadaf, overlooking the historic Dubai Creek.

The free zone is governed by the Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) and regulated by the independent regulatory arm, Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulation (DHCR), whose quality standards are accredited by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua).

DHCC has close to 160 clinical partners including hospitals, outpatient medical centers and diagnostic laboratories across 150 plus specialties with licensed professionals from almost 90 countries, strengthening its medical tourism portfolio. Representing its network of support partners, close to 200 retail and non-clinical facilities serve the free zone.

DHCC is also home to academic institution the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center. The free zone’s integrated environment provides leverage for potential partners to set up operations to promote health and wellness.

8. Dubai Industrial City (DIC)

Dubai Industrial Park, formerly known as Dubai Industrial City is the dedicated industrial park in Dubai, founded in 2004, covering an area of 560 million Sq ft. When completed the development will include food and beverage zones, base-metal and transportation zones, warehouses and an extensive conservation area. These areas are further complemented with logistics, educational and mixed use developments. It will be located near Jebel Ali International Airport along Emirates Road. The city is expected to accommodate around 500,000 people when it is completed by 2015.

Dubai Industrial Park upon completion will encompass 6 zones:

  • Zone 1: Food and Beverage
  • Zone 2: Transport Equipment and Parts
  • Zone 3: Machinery and Equipment
  • Zone 4: Mineral Products
  • Zone 5: Base Metal
  • Zone 6: Chemicals

9. Dubai International Financial Centre

DIFC is an onshore financial centre strategically located between the East and West, which provides a secure and efficient platform for businesses and financial institutions to reach into and out of the emerging markets of the region. The quality and range of DIFC’s independent regulation, common law framework, supportive infrastructure and its tax-friendly regime make it the perfect base to take advantage of the region’s rapidly growing demand for financial and business services.

DIFC fills the time-zone gap for a global financial centre between the leading financial centres of London and New York in the West and Hong Kong and Tokyo in the East. Guided by its core values of integrity, transparency and efficiency, DIFC is playing a pivotal role in meeting the growing financial needs of the region.

10. Dubai Internet City (DIC)

DIC fosters entrepreneurs, empowers SMEs, and attracts global ICT leaders to Dubai. Here is where your business accesses a rich ecosystem of knowledge workers, nimble service providers, and expertise from the world over. DIC community of entrepreneurs, startups, facilitators and Fortune 500 companies is busy creating the future of regional ICT and disrupting the status quo. We are the MENA region’s largest ICT hub, with liberal regulations that facilitate business success

11. Dubai Knowledge Village

Dubai Knowledge Park is a human resources management, professional learning and educational free trade zone campus in the city of Dubai established in 2003, United Arab Emirates, that provides facilities for corporate training and learning institutions to operate with 100% foreign ownership. There are over 400 companies and institutions operating within it, which include occupational assessment and testing providers, universities, computer training providers, professional centers, executive development providers and HR consultancy companies.[1] It is owned by Dubai Holding’s subsidiary TECOM Investments.[citation needed] It is located in Al Sufouh 2 District.

In 2007, TECOM Investments launched a separate facility, Dubai International Academic City, where all institutions of higher education from Dubai Knowledge Park will be moved to.

Dubai Knowledge Park has previously been known as Knowledge Village.

11. Dubai Logistics City

Dubai Logistic City is home to Dubai Logistics City (DLC), world’s first multi-modal integrated logistics platform. DLC incorporates more than 25 sq. km of free zone and serves every transport mode, logistics need and value-adding operation in the supply chain, including manufacturing and assembly, all within a single-bonded, free zone environment.

With a capacity to turn over 12 million tons of air cargo annually, Dubai Logistics City is strategically located alongside the world’s biggest airport, the new DWC Al Maktoum International Airport and adjacent to one of the world’s largest container handlers, Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone.

Dubai Logistic City is ideal for businesses such as:

  • Companies with multi-modal transportation needs
  • Corporations seeking professional logistics environments and free trade facilities
  • Range of innovative, value-added logistics services
  • Businesses requiring speedy air freight, multi-modal transportation and complex logistics services

Dubai Logistic City provides an office park as well as land along the DLC access road that can be developed to host a wide range of service businesses. The office park is located in the heart of Dubai Logistics City as part of a landscaped campus. It is part of the free zone but situated outside the customs bonded area, thus combining the free zone operational advantages with easy and unrestricted public access.

The office park provides more than 400,000 sq. m of rentable office space. DLC supplies modular office space to allow utmost flexibility. Sections of 100 sq. m can be combined to create larger integrated offices or even merged into entire floors.

This allows companies to easily set up their local operations, administrative offices, showrooms and customer facing facilities or entire head offices. Multi-level car parking ensures easy access to all 18 office blocks and a dedicated road network links the DLC office park to the Emirates Road.

11. Dubai Media City

DMC provides an advanced infrastructure and supportive environment for media-related businesses to operate globally out of Dubai.

DMC is a place where every kind of media business can operate with collective synergy, including media and marketing services, printing and publishing, music, film, new media, leisure and entertainment, broadcasting and information agencies.

Since its inception, Dubai Media City has grown impressively. The list of DMC-based companies today reads like a who’s who of the global media industry. The community includes global media giants such as Reuters, CNN, CNBC, MBC, Sony, Showtime and Bertelsmann.

Dubai Media City has also set up Media Business Centres to promote talent and entrepreneurship in the region. These unique facilities are targeted at freelancers and independent media professionals. Freelancers find the Centres an ideal base for gaining visibility and building relationships with the media industry.

In June 2001 Dubai Media City launched the Ibda’a Media Student Awards, an annual event to recognize and foster young media talent in the region. The Ibda’a Awards cover a range of media-related categories.

12. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre or Jumeirah Lakes Towers Free Zone

DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodity Centre) – located in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and designed for trade, DMCC has everything to set up, grow and build your business. Three times crowned ‘Global Free Zone of the Year’ by the Financial Times magazine, DMCC is home to a vibrant community, innovative infrastructure, world-class services and a stunning choice of properties, all minutes from excellent air, sea and road links to the world.

Launched in 2002, DMCC is the dedicated global centre for more than 13,000 businesses from a wide range of industries and sectors, as diverse as agro, energy and financial services to diamonds, gold and base metals.

The objectives of DMCC:

  • Creation of a dedicated market place in Dubai.
  • Increase the value and volume of commodities traded in and through the region.
  • Facilitation and integration of the entire value chain of its key segments.
  • Broaden the local market horizon e.g. Refining – Manufacturing – Trade.
  • Create industry specific market infrastructure for its core segments, innovate new products and services.
  • Provide a supportive business environment through purpose-built infrastructure.
  • Promote regional industry growth.
  • Enhance local industry through implementation of international standards.

Types of licenses:

  • Trading License
  • Service License
  • Industrial License

Serviced business centres:

  • Austria Business Centre
  • BB1 Business Centre
  • Diamond Business Centre
  • DMCC Business Centre
  • German Arabian Business Centre
  • HDS Serviced Offices
  • The One Business Centre
  • Mayfair Business Centre
  • Open Business Centre
  • Park Avenue Offices
  • ServCorp
  • Serviced Offices
  • Star Business Centre

13. Dubai Outsource Zone

Dubai Outsource Zone (DOZ) is the perfect base for companies that provide mid to high-end outsourcing services and captives as well as serving as an offshore centre for disaster recovery facilities. Being at the centre of trade, DOZ is well-positioned to cater to offshoring requirements from Europe, the US, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Some of the key sectors that can thrive in DOZ are call centres, IT, finance, insurance, healthcare, logistics, tourism, real estate, and energy with knowledge processes, research and development, and business continuity and planning as the primary outsource functions.

As such, companies setting up in Dubai Outsource Zone can tap into an economically high-skilled workforce in the region including India, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Iran, and the Philippines.
With a vast majority of the population fluent in English, this multicultural multilingual population is a huge advantage for many off shoring companies.

The presence of Fortune 500 companies already in Dubai, like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco, attests to the region’s stability.

14. Dubai Silicon Oasis

Established in 2004 and fully owned by the Government of Dubai, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) is providing both a living and a working integrated community. Silicon Oasis is a Free Zone Authority which offers free trade zone incentives and benefits to companies operating within the tech park. Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority promotes modern technology based industries within an urban master-planned community, state-of-the-art infrastructure & in –house business services.

DSO has a total capacity of 97,740 sq. m of commercial space dedicated to offices for lease. DSO has created a high-tech eco-system to promote technological collaboration and innovation. DSO identifies six key elements for its high-tech ecosystem: large enterprises, startups & medium-sized businesses, universities and an incubation Centre, venture capital funds, a high-tech infrastructure and government & business services.

The DSO community possesses a range of residential and lifestyle facilities which include schools, universities, hospitals, community centers, shopping complexes, swimming pools and tennis courts. The DSO community has been landscaped with green parks, interconnected courtyards, and children’s play areas in addition to 24-hour security, daily maintenance and a fully completed road network.


15. Dubai Studio City

Imagine a place where you can shoot a film from start to finish in one location. From financing to casting to pre-production to filming in exotic locations to editing to sound recording to visual animation to processing to distribution and finally to the premiere night. Imagine a place like Dubai Studio City.

With the dawn of the digital era and rising number of TV channels, the future of the broadcast industry looks extremely bright. Consequently, a new crop of independent broadcast boutiques has emerged, to provide design, visual effects, and music composition services. These companies can fulfil their true potential in a virtually untapped region from Dubai Studio City.

Designed to accelerate the growth of the broadcast, film, television and music production industries, Dubai Studio City will be an ultra-modern facility integrating every component under one roof. Spread across 22 million sq.ft., it will include production, post-production, equipment rental, business centre and satellite facilities among others.

It will also have residential areas, hotels, an entertainment centre, film schools and training institutes. This unique combination of world-class infrastructure, qualified professionals and unique networking environment will make it the ideal location for creative people to unleash their imagination.


16. Dubai Techno Park

TechnoPark aim to take a lead in the research and development of new technologies and have created an environment where businesses at the foreforont of their fields can work together with top academicians and researchers. Managed by a team of experts and associated with a pretigious network of science and technology organizations, Dubai Techno Park will be an incomparable place to work.

TechnoPark key focus is on Middle East’s core economic sectors, including:

  • Water resource management
  • Development of alternative and efficient energy resources
  • Environmental resource management


19. Jebel Ali Free Zone

JAFZA commenced operations in 1985 and today stands out as a leading business hub of the Middle East. JAFZA’s focus is on long term customer relationships, fostering alliances with global investors by providing them world class infrastructure supported with quality driven value-added services and incentives, enabling them to capitalize on huge business opportunities in the region. JAFZA boasts of being the first free zone in the world to win ISO certification in 1996. JAFZA is one of the fastest growing Free Zones in the MEASA region, which gives direct access to a market of over 2 billion people.

Formation types:

The number of shareholders determine the formation type for the companies being established in Jebel Ali Free Zone.

1.Multiple shareholders

Two to 50 shareholders can set up a Free Zone Company (FZCo) in Jebel Ali Free Zone. These shareholders can be individuals (two to 50 people), non-individuals (two to 50 companies) or a combination of both. An FZCo is essentially a Limited Liability Partnership within the Free Zone, with the liabilities of the company limited to the paid-up capital.

Two to 50 shareholders can also set up a Public Listed Company (PLC) within the Free Zone. These shareholders can be individuals (two to 50 people), non-individuals (2 to 50 companies) or a combination of both. A PLC is essentially a Limited Liability Partnership within the Free Zone, with the liabilities of the company limited to the paid-up capital.

Whether an individual or a company, a single shareholder can register a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) in JAFZA. An FZE is essentially a Limited Liability Company within the Free Zone. An FZCo is essentially a Limited Liability Partnership within the Free Zone, with the liabilities of the company limited to the paid-up capital. A FZCo has a legal personality distinct from that of its shareholder and it has the capacity, rights and privileges of a natural person.

2.Any existing established entity

Branch within the Free Zone can be registered by any entity already established outside Jebel Ali Free Zone. A branch is considered a legal entity of its parent company; is 100% owned by the parent company, operates under the same name and conducts the same business.

License Types:

  • Trading License – to carry out trading activities.
  • Industrial License – to carry out manufacturing activities.
  • Service License – to carry out services activities.
  • E-Commerce License – to carry out buying and selling of goods and services over electronic networks via any electronic means.
  • National Industrial License – to carry out manufacturing activities where at least 51% of the ownership is of national(s) of a AGCC country.
  • Innovation License – to carry out development of new products and services.
  • Offshore Registration – to establish an offshore company with limited liability.

Interested in Dubai, UAE? Please leave us a message and we will get back to you shortly.

Novasigma provides international accounting services, company formation services, legal, business and tax advisory services | Terms of Use & Terms of Business | © 2016 NOVASIGMA Global - Accounting & Law Cooperative ("NOVASIGMA LIMITED"). Member firms of the NOVASIGMA Global - Accounting & Law network of independent firms are affiliated with NOVASIGMA Global - Accounting & Law. NOVASIGMA Global - Accounting & Law provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind NOVASIGMA Global - Accounting & Law or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does NOVASIGMA Global - Accounting & Law have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm. Independent registered advisers, lawyers and accountants are not owned by, affiliated with or supervised by Novasigma or its affiliates. Novasigma provides custody, trading and operational support services for advisers, lawyers and accountants. Not all products and services available through Novasigma and its affiliates are available through advisers, lawyers or accountants. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Depending on jurisdiction there might be eligibility requirements to work with a dedicated Financial Consultant, Lawyer or Accountant. Wealth management, accounting, audit and legal services refers to products and services available through the operating subsidiaries of the Novasigma Corporation of which there are important differences including, nut not limited to, the type of advice and assistance provided, fees charged, and the rights and obligations of the parties. It is important to understand the differences when determining which product and/or services to select. Novasigma provides a full range of business, financial, banking and tax advisory, accounting and legal services through its operating subsidiaries.

All rights reserved. NOVASIGMA is a trademark of SilverFox & Co. Inc. Online services by NOVASIGMA LIMITED - Suites 41/42, Victoria House 26 Main Street, Gibraltar GX11 1AA.

Latvijas Pasta Bank
NTL Immigration
CM Asesores
Blue Orange Bank