The building blocks of any business start with the 4 Ps of marketing. Of these 4, the ‘Place’ is still revered by many pundits as the most critical variable, which, if not chosen rightly, can stifle the a-z activities of any business.

A good and promising place (or location, in business parlance), with little or no regulation is always the best and the most advantageous option to starting a business as it helps faster set up and smoother operations.

With relaxed regulations, free zones in the UAE are made conducive to businesses of diverse sectors, be it industrial or service-related. They are open to foreign investments from both young entrepreneurs and well-established multi-nationals. As a young entrepreneur you’ll find it as a wonderland to bootstrap your company, while for the well-established, it means a lucrative way to expand to the Middle East with all possible resources at its disposal.

When it comes to the economy, the contribution of these free zones to the growth of the UAE has been incredible. The year 2017 saw exports amounting to AED 225.5 Bn from the UAE Free zones*. On the other hand, the overall trade that happened in Dubai alone in 2017 was pegged at AED 434 Bn*, thanks to its 30 Free zones.

Having said this, let’s take a look at the seven most unique did-you-know facts about UAE Free zones which are known to some and unknown to many wannabe entrepreneurs.

Did you know?

  1. UAE is a country dotted with free zones: UAE is the place with the most number of Free zones in the world – 45 in operation and 10 under construction. It was in the year 1985 that it established its first freezone – Jebel Ali Free zone Authority.
  2. No two free zones are alike: Free zones in UAE differ with each other in their policies and the types of business resources they offer. Say for example, Dubai Healthcare City is not identical to Dubai Internet City. If in the former you are allowed to conduct healthcare-related business, the latter only facilitates IT and allied activities.
  3. Grant of Ownership: Free zones in the UAE guarantee you complete ownership of your business. Most don’t demand any UAE partner intervention provided the entity you chose such as FZE, FZC, etc. The cost of running a business in UAE Freezone is comparatively less as they don’t levy personal or corporate tax on your business. Also, the import and export duties are fully waived off.
  4. All types of business Promoted: These Free zones allow you to start either your own new business or a subsidiary or a branch of another existing business. If you are planning to start a branch of any business in any UAE Free zone, you are required to bear the same name of the parent company and stick to the same business activity (provided the Freezone you choose entertains it). Whereas a Subsidiary company can have a different name and function independently.
  5. Grant of Visa: The proprietor of a UAE Free zone company is eligible for UAE Residence Visa and can sponsor his family and other domestic helpers. But, it depends on the type of facility you own such as Flexi desk or Office.
  6. No compulsion to rent Office: Free zones provide you with flexible business solutions. Depending on the type of business activity you can choose your office space.
  7. Revenue Repatriation: In case of winding up, Free zones allow you to transfer all the profits and capital to your home country.


Free zones enable regulation-free business activities. Therefore, it is pretty easier to start a company in a free zone than in UAE mainland. However, to choose the right type of free zone and the business entity requires expert knowledge and advice. It is good to always get in touch with a registered company formation agent before deciding on the free zone.

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