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Opening a start-up company in the UAE


Michael Decker

Since the signing of the peace accords with the UAE and Bahrain, many Israelis expressed interest in the possibility of opening a start-up company in United Arab Emirates. The reason is clear – the UAE is one of the leading locations in the world in innovation and technological developments. In this article we will explain this in more depth, illustrating how Dubai and the UAE encourage entrepreneurs on their soil, and presenting information on the legal procedures required to begin operating there.

The law offices of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in commercial and immigration law. Attorneys in our office have extensive experience in assisting Israeli and international clients seeking to operate abroad, accompanying them through all the procedures of registering and setting up companies in the UAE and other locations throughout the world, obtaining business permits and visas to Dubai and the other UAE states, and providing legal consultation on a wide range of issues.

Why are many hi-tech cooperative ventures expected between Israel and the UAE?

Start-up in the UAEIsrael and the UAE have more than a little in common. Israel shares with the UAE not only geographic location, but tremendous growth in the technological innovation field in recent decades. Over the years, the UAE has become a world-class technological power, and it encourages innovation and technological development on its soil. Given Israel’s status as a hi-tech and start-up power with an international reputation (earning the title “Start-up Nation”), one can expect many joint ventures in this field. In this article we will dwell on the advantages of opening start-up and hi-tech companies in the UAE and the legal requirements for doing so.

The UAE as a country that encourages entrepreneurs

Any Israeli who comes to the UAE will immediately notice its innovation-friendly atmosphere. For example, a technological park was built in the center of Dubai called Dubai Internet City, housing over 1600 information technology companies. These include branches of the world’s leading technology companies, including CISCO, SAP, Apple, Microsoft, and more. Both the government and various private companies offer hackathons and projects in a range of technological sectors. In addition, in recent years Dubai has announced the Smart City project, incorporating various initiatives to make Dubai more digital.

Dubai and the other emirates enjoy all the conditions needed to encourage business and entrepreneurship. The UAE is a leading commercial center in the Middle East region, and is highly ranked in indices relating to ease of doing business and opening international businesses. The currency is highly stable and the country enjoys steady economic growth, as well as a lenient taxation policy. The immigration laws are also lenient, enabling one to obtain a work visa in a relatively simple and rapid process. The country even awards various benefits and grants to businesses working on innovative developments in a range of fields, such as renewable energy, agriculture, and water.

What is required to open a start-up company in the UAE?

First of all, one must decide what type of company will be set up: a local company or a branch of a foreign company. In addition, one must decide where the company will operate – in the Mainland or in one of the dozens of Free Zones. The selected location will affect the company’s ownership structure, since opening a business in the Mainland requires shared ownership and registering a local sponsor as an owner of at least 51% of the shares. In contrast, opening a company in a Free Zone, as a rule, will enable the foreign owner to retain 100% of the shares in the business, although a local agent must still be registered.

There is a basis procedure for opening a start-up company, including selecting the company name and the business sector, signing incorporation documents, applying for a work visa for the shareholders and the company employees, and opening a local bank account in the UAE. Sometimes there may be additional requirements, according to the business sector. For example, firms involved in foreign banking or energy (petroleum and gas) will be required to obtain a special permit, a requirement that is also likely to apply to start-ups operating in these fields.

Contact an attorney specializing in commercial and immigration law

In this article we have discussed opening a start-up and/or hi-tech company in the UAE. For a consultation and additional information on this issue, you can turn to the attorneys in the offices of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Our office specializes in commercial law, including hi-tech, and we assist Israeli and international clients looking to operate in the UAE. This includes maintaining ongoing contact with UAE authorities, as well as working together with a local firm that is a leader in this field.

Start-up in the UAE



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