Business Setup

Mainland License VS Free Zone Here Is How It Works:

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is acknowledged as the most established lucrative spot for a vibrant and appealing economy. In general, UAE boasts a healthy workforce and a firmly rooted economy from Industries, professional class, and global market. Presented with this investment opportunity, business people are always on the run to build a name and successfully be established.

The United Arab Emirates offers different company entities to establish, especially in Dubai. Mainly, there are two types of companies you can set up; Mainland and Free Zone Company. In terms of freedom of operation and growth, the mainland set up beats free zone by far. Al RIYADY Corporate services is a professional consultancy firm ready to offer top guidelines and support as you venture into mainland business in UAE.

What is Mainland Company?

First of all, Dubai’s mainland is the primary zone identified by the economic development department (DED) of Dubai. Companies established in this zone are called mainland or onshore Firms, and they enjoy the freedom to operate within the local and outside the UAE.

There are two major types of licenses for mainland companies. I.e., commercial license and the professional business license. In commercial licensing, 51% of the total shares are owned by UAE citizens, while 49% goes to the ex-pat. On the other hand, 100% of the shares belong to the ex-pat, with the local citizen playing only as a service agent.

Why settle for the mainland?

The activities that one wants to undertake determine the choice between mainly the mainland and free zone setup. If you’re going to set up a UAE company, then mainland set up should be your first preference.

Here are the reasons why you should settle for a mainland license.

  1. Unlimited freedom to operate.

Freedom is one of the most enticing benefits enjoyed by mainland firms in the Emirates. Free zone enterprises are confined to work only within their free zone or the other UAE Emirates. If a free zone Firm wants to trade with a mainland, they must first acquire a specific operating license to legalize them to proceed with the transactions. Consequently, mainland Firms are allowed to operate freely and trade anywhere in UAE or even outside the locality.

  • Enormous Scope of Business Growth

Mainland companies are advantaged when it comes to opportunities to grow, unlike the free zone Firms. With the freedom to operate across, mainland setups have a chance to establish themselves widely while the free zones are restricted to conduct within the confined geographical area.

  • Working with the Government sector

When the UAE government wants to tender contracts, the mainland companies enjoy an upper hand. Only mainland Firms are contracted to work with government bodies. When on the free zone side, you can only win contracts from the private sector. Are you planning to get projects with the Abu Dhabi Government? Consider enrolling for a mainland company license.

  • Open Presence in the UAE market atmosphere

Establishing a mainland company in UAE is equivalent to earning an all-time business permit and citizenship. You can install your Firm anywhere in Dubai, UAE. Moreover, these companies can trade in any activity in and outside UAE without limitations.

  • Cost Implications.

There’s no minimum requirement for capital when establishing a mainland company set up. For this reason, mainland set up becomes a top unrivaled entity to set up in Dubai. The cheap cost of establishment presents it as a better choice than the free zone.

  • Visas facility

Mainland firms are not limited to the visas they can issue to their workers. The ministry of labor of UAE operates with an E-quota technology for Mainland Businesses, capable of identifying an eligible ticket. The number of employees is dependent on office space. The more space you have, the more the staff and the more visas to be issued. On the other hand, only two tickets are offered for an office package for free zone companies. In case the management needs extra visas, they will have to lease out the physical office to be viable.


These are some of the significant point outs strengthening Mainland Company set up as the best take for any investor joining the UAE market. Are you looking for information on how to establish your company in Dubai? Feel free to reach the Al RIYADY group of professional services in Dubai. Our experts will be waiting at the end of the line.

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