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Mainland company formation refers to setting up a business entity in Dubai that is licensed by the Department of Economic Development (DED). Unlike free zone companies, mainland companies have the flexibility to conduct business anywhere in the UAE and are not limited to operating within a specific free zone.

Advantages of Mainland Company Formation

Access to Local Market

One of the primary advantages of mainland company formation in Dubai is the unrestricted access to the local market. Mainland companies can engage in business activities across the UAE without any geographical limitations.

No Capital Requirements

Unlike some other jurisdictions, Dubai does not impose minimum capital requirements for mainland company formation. This means that entrepreneurs have the flexibility to start their businesses with varying levels of capital investment.

Flexibility in Business Activities

Mainland companies enjoy greater flexibility in conducting business activities compared to free zone entities. They are not restricted to specific sectors or industries and can engage in a wide range of commercial activities.

Legal Requirements for Mainland Company Formation

Setting up a mainland company in Dubai involves navigating through various legal requirements and procedures.

Choosing a Business Activity

The first step in mainland company formation is selecting the business activity or activities that the company will engage in. This decision will determine the type of license required from the DED.

Selecting a Local Sponsor

Mainland companies are required to have a local sponsor, who is a UAE national or a company wholly owned by UAE nationals. The local sponsor acts as a liaison between the company and the government authorities.

Obtaining Approvals and Licenses

Once the business activity and local sponsor are determined, the next step is to obtain approvals and licenses from the relevant authorities, including the DED and other government departments.

Steps for Mainland Company Formation

The process of setting up a mainland company in Dubai typically involves the following steps:

Choose a Business Activity

Identify the primary business activity and any additional activities the company wishes to undertake.

Determine Shareholder Structure

Decide on the ownership structure of the company, including the distribution of shares among shareholders.

Reserve a Company Name

Select a unique name for the company and reserve it with the DED.

Submit Documents and Obtain Approvals

Prepare and submit the necessary documents, including the company's memorandum and articles of association, to the DED for approval.

Draft Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association

Draft the company's memorandum of association and articles of association, outlining the company's objectives, shareholders' rights, and corporate governance structure.

Notarize Documents and Pay Fees

Notarize the memorandum and articles of association and pay the requisite fees to the DED.

Receive Trade License and Commercial Registration

Upon approval, the company will receive its trade license and commercial registration from the DED, allowing it to commence business operations legally.

Comparison with Free Zone Company Formation

While mainland company formation offers certain advantages, it is essential to compare it with free zone company formation to determine the most suitable option based on the nature of the business and its requirements.


Mainland company formation in Dubai provides entrepreneurs with a strategic gateway to access the local market and explore business opportunities in the UAE. By understanding the legal requirements and following the necessary procedures, businesses can establish a robust presence in Dubai's vibrant economy.


  1. Is a local sponsor required for mainland company formation in Dubai?
    • Yes, mainland companies are required to have a local sponsor who is a UAE national or a company wholly owned by UAE nationals.
  2. Are there any capital requirements for mainland company formation?
    • No, Dubai does not impose minimum capital requirements for mainland company formation, providing entrepreneurs with flexibility in their investment.
  3. What are the key documents required for mainland company formation?
    • The key documents include the memorandum of association, articles of association, passport copies of shareholders and directors, and a no-objection certificate from the local sponsor.
  4. How long does it take to complete the mainland company formation process in Dubai?
    • The timeframe can vary depending on the type of business activity and the efficiency of document processing. On average, it may take several weeks to obtain all necessary approvals and licenses.
  5. Can mainland companies operate outside Dubai?
    • Yes, mainland companies have the flexibility to conduct business activities anywhere in the UAE, not limited to Dubai alone.


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