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Mainland License

Mainland License VS Free Zone Here Is How It Works

Before delving into a detailed discussion of Mainland License vs Free Zone, let’s take a bird’s eye view of the UAE market. It’s well-known that Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is recognized as a highly established and lucrative destination with a vibrant and appealing economy.  In general, the UAE boasts a healthy workforce, diverse industries, a thriving professional class, as well as a strong presence in the global market. By virtue of providing this promising investment opportunity, business people are always eager to establish their presence and want to build a successful reputation.

Furthermore, the United Arab Emirates offers various company entities for the establishment, especially in Dubai. Mainly, there are two types of companies that you can set up with ease, such as Freezone and Mainland. In terms of freedom of operation and growth, the mainland set up a 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 Dubai’s Economic Development Department (DED). Companies established in the mainland zone are usually called mainland or onshore firms, and they enjoy the freedom to operate within the local and outside the UAE.

Types of Dubai Mainland License

Mainland Licenses in Dubai play a paramount role in the business setup. Here are the following 2 significant types of Mainland Licenses for companies;

  • Commercial license 
  • Professional business license

Usually, in commercial licensing, 51% of the total shares are owned by UAE citizens, while 49% goes to the ex-pat. On the other hand, in the professional business license, 100% of the shares belong to the ex-pat, with the local citizen playing only as a service agent.

Why Settle for the UAE Mainland?

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

Unlimited freedom to operate

Freedom is one of the most exciting benefits mainland firms enjoy 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, it must first acquire a specific operating license to legalize it 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

Moreover, mainland companies are advantaged when it comes to opportunities to grow, unlike the free zone Firms. After obtaining a mainland license, with the freedom to operate across, setups have a chance to establish themselves widely. At the same time, the UAE free zones are restricted to conduct within the confined geographical area.

Working with the Government Sector

When the UAE government wants to tender contracts, mainland companies enjoy the upper hand. Only companies with mainland licenses 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

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

Cost Implications

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

Visas facility

Mainland firms aren’t 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 points 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 to guide you thoroughly regarding Mainland License and more. 




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