Are you looking to settle in Dubai and start a private business? It’s a great choice indeed. Dubai has long been one of the most successful cities in the world in supporting the private sector.
You can definitely make use of the city’s free trade zone initiative, which makes it quite easy for you as an expat to get your business off the ground.
So, if you’ve always wondered what Dubai free zones mean or which areas are considered free zones in Dubai, this guide is for you!
All About Dubai Free Zones
We’ve gathered the answers to all the questions you might have about Dubai Free Zones.
What Is a Free Zone Area in Dubai?
Dubai’s free zones are areas in Dubai where businesses can be established without payment of taxes. Additionally, you would have complete ownership of your business.
Rules and regulations are set up for each free zone by free zone authorities in Dubai.
What Are the Taxes You Are Exempted from at the Free Zones in Dubai?
Some of the taxes you will not be paying for your free zone establishment in Dubai are as follows:
- Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Income Tax
- Corporate Tax
What Is the Difference Between Free Zones and Freehold Areas?
It is common to confuse free zones and freehold areas, so it’s important to recognize the difference.
- Free zone areas in Dubai: Locations in which you can 100% own and operate your business without payment of taxes.
- Freehold areas in Dubai: : Locations where non-GCC nationals can own a residential property.
What Is the Difference Between Mainland and Free Zones in Dubai?
Mainland zones are areas within the city where free zone regulations don’t apply. Here are some main points for mainland businesses that make them stand out from free zone ones:
- A local UAE-national partner is required
- 51% of the company shares must be owned by the local partner
- Minimum office space of 140 sq.ft. required
- Can operate everywhere in the UAE, while free zone companies can only conduct business inside their main zone only.
What Is the Purpose of Tax Free Zones in Dubai?
Free zones in Dubai were initiated with the purpose of attracting business owners and investors from around the world to operate in the city.
- The very first free zone is Jebel Ali Free Zone, which opened up back in 1985.
- Free zones currently are a major boost to the country’s economy, making up about 94% of it, along with 86% of the workforce in the private sector.
What Are the Advantages of Owning Free Zone Companies in Dubai?
There are many advantages to having your business set up in a free zone location in Dubai as follows:
- No need for a UAE national to partner with
- Complete ownership
- No taxes
- More freedom.
Free Zone Authorities and Locations in Dubai
If you’ve already moved to Dubai and are considering opening up a private business or investing in one, this is useful.
Here’s a breakdown of all free zone authorities and their locations in Dubai to help make up your mind:
1. Dubai CommerCity Free Zone (DCC)
The first e-commerce dedicated free zone in the region, DCC is set to open only for online retailers. The city is located only 5 minutes away from Dubai International Airport, with the entire project expected to be completed by 2023.
2. Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA)
There are 10 business communities under the jurisdiction of DCCA, an entity vowing to make Dubai the smartest city in the world.
There are many global brands that have chosen DCCA as the hub for their businesses, including CNN, PepsiCo, Unilever, and more.
The below communities are a part of DCCA:
Dubai Internet City
This technology-based business district is where the future is being born. Dubai Internet City is located on Sheikh Zayed Rd., about 25 or so kilometers south of Downtown Dubai.
- Office space for rent in Dubai Internet City: Starting AED 131,750/year for 1,550 sq.ft.
Best Towers: Two Seasons Tower, The Edge.
You can check office space available for rent at Dubai Internet City on Property Finder.
Dubai Media City
If you’re in the media field, there’s no better place to start your business than Dubai Media City. It’s only one of the largest communities in the region for media giants and startups.
It is located right next to Dubai Internet City, about 10 minutes away from Dubai Marina.
- Office space for rent in Dubai Media City: Starting AED 42,160/year for 527 sq.ft.
Best Towers: Arenco Tower, Concord Tower, The Loft Offices, Sidra Tower, Business Central Towers.
All office space available for rent at Dubai Media City can be found on Property Finder.
Dubai Production City
Dubai Production City is home to many media production companies in Dubai. If you intend to open a publishing, printing, or packaging business for media, this is the place for you.
It is located on Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Rd., adjacent to Jumeirah Golf Estates.
- Office space for rent in Dubai Production City: Starting AED 28,000/year for 500 sq.ft.
Find out all available office space for rent in Dubai Production City on Property Finder.
Dubai Studio City
Various global events take place at this studio hub in Dubai, where entertainment and broadcasting companies are settled. The business community is also well-known for providing training opportunities for up-and-coming talents.
Dubai Studio City is located only a few minutes away from Dubai Sports City.
Dubai Outsource City
Does your business require a professional outsourcing base? Dubai Outsource City may just be what you’re looking for.
There are over 160 companies in Dubai Outsource City, including leaders like Emirates Airlines, Jumeirah Group, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).
Dubai Outsource City is located right next to Academic City on Manama St., Dubai.
Dubai Knowledge Park
This free zone is entirely dedicated to HR management and vocational training businesses. Set up your business in Dubai Knowledge Park and help create an economy in Dubai that’s knowledge-based.
Dubai Knowledge Park neighbors Dubai Internet City on Sheikh Zayed Rd.
Dubai International Academic City (DIAC)
DIAC is the biggest free zone in the world that serves higher education. Some of the top universities can be found right here, including Heriot-Watt University, University of Birmingham, University of Manchester, and many others.
Academic City is located right next to Dubai Silicon Oasis on Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Rd.
Dubai Science Park
Are you all about the sciences? Dubai Science Park is currently hosting more than 350 different companies in the fields of life, energy, and environmental sciences.
It’s the perfect place to set up your laboratories to come up with future scientific innovations.
Dubai Science Park is located opposite Dubai Miracle Garden a few minutes away from Dubai South.
Dubai Design District
Here’s a free zone business district for the creative minds out there. You could rent your own gallery or creative space right here in the place where design is everything people talk about.
Residents and visitors come to the Dubai Design District or d3 to catch a glimpse of the work from young creative minds, and hang out in the district’s amazing eateries and cafes. The community is also well-known for hosting many amazing events.
Dubai Design District is located close to business bay and just a few minutes away from dazzling Downtown Dubai.
Emirates Towers District
The most recent addition to the DCCA, Emirates Towers District is a free zone to open its doors by 2021. You will find spacious office space for your business and the district will be directly connected to DIFC via a bridge.
3. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Authority
The DMCC is among the top free zones in Dubai, holding the record of “Global Free Zone of the Year” six times by Fdi Financial Times magazine.
Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)
The DMCC consists of the popular district Jumeirah Lake Towers, where you can live and work within a vibrant community.
If you’re looking for spacious office space in some of Dubai’s most impressive skyscrapers, check JLT free zone.
- Office space for rent at JLT: Starting AED 16,000/year for 100 sq.ft.
- Office space for sale at JLT: Starting AED 190,000 for 413 sq.ft.
Best Towers: Lake Almas East, Jumeirah Bay Towers, Saba Towers, Red Diamond, Al Seef Towers.
You can take a look at all available office space for rent at JLT on Property Finder.
On the other hand, if you prefer to buy, here’s a look at all available office space for sale at JLT on Property Finder.
4. Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA)
JAFZA is the free zone authority for DP World and one of the most successful free zones in Dubai.
Thousands of companies have chosen Jebel Ali Free Zone as their base and place of operation. It is a free zone for trading and offers you unique office space to help the growth of your establishment.
Jebel Ali Free Zone is located in Mina Jebel Ali, about 15 minutes from Jebel Ali Village in Dubai.
- Office space for rent at Jebel Ali Free Zone: Starting AED 24,000/year for 323 sq.ft.
You can check available office space for rent at Jebel Ali Free Zone on Property Finder.
5. Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA)
As you would expect from its name, Dubai Airport Free Zone is mainly dedicated to aviation, freight, and logistics services in Dubai.
Dubai Airport Free Zone has the benefit of being located with direct access to one of the world’s busiest airports.
6. Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA)
An inspiring free zone in Dubai consisting of a huge integrated technology park as well as residential options, Dubai Silicon Oasis has it all.
At Dubai Silicon Oasis, everything you need is only of state-of-the-art status for your future business. It has a strategic location as well on Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Rd.
- Office space for rent at Dubai Silicon Oasis: Starting AED 12,108/year for 538 sq.ft.
- Office space for sale at Dubai Silicon Oasis: Starting AED 340,000 for 761 sq.ft.
There’s a range of office space options available for rent in Dubai Silicon Oasis on Property Finder.
However, if you’re looking to buy, check all available office space for sale in Dubai Silicon Oasis right here.
7. Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA)
This is the ultimate destination in Dubai for all healthcare professionals. DHCA regulates Dubai Healthcare City free zone, which is home to some of the best hospitals worldwide and the best healthcare clinics and medical care services.
Dubai Healthcare City boasts a prime location on Sheikh Zayed Rd. right next to WAFI Mall.
- Office space for rent at Dubai Healthcare City: Starting AED 115,000/year for 1,047 sq.ft.
You can check available office space for rent in Dubai Healthcare City on Property Finder.
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8. International Humanitarian City (IHC)
The International Humanitarian City free zone is a non-profit business district for UN companies, global NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations. IHC is among the most successful humanitarian hubs worldwide.
IHC is located in the DIC complex on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Rd.
9. Dubai Maritime City Authority
Serving the thriving maritime industry in Dubai and the UAE, Dubai Maritime City Authority has cemented Dubai’s position among the number one maritime hubs on the planet.
Dubai Maritime City is strategically located opposite Port Rashid in Dubai.
10. Gold and Diamond Park
Gold and Diamond Park is a free zone dedicated to the jewellery industry. It offers a wide selection of retailers for gold and diamonds.
You can set up your factory, office, or retail space for your thriving jewellery business right here. It is located just off Sheikh Zayed Rd. only a few minutes away from Mall of the Emirates.
- Office space for rent at Gold and Diamond Park: Starting AED 631,890/year for 6018 sq.ft.
You can check office space available for rent at Gold and Diamond Park on Property Finder.
11. Dubai South
Dubai South is the city of the future, literally! It’s the grounds that are set to host Expo 2020 in Dubai and is where the largest airport in the world is currently under construction. Need we say more?
- Office space for rent at Dubai South: Starting AED 45,000/year for 375 sq.ft.
Property Finder gathered all available office space for rent in Dubai South for you right here.
12. Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
DIFC is the leading financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region (MEASA). If you’re wondering where to set up your financial business, this is where you want to be to rise to the top.
DIFC is located on Sheikh Zayed Rd., in a prime destination that sets the line between old and modern Dubai. It is known for great residential options, so you can work and live in a thriving community, as well as amazing dining spots.
- Office space for rent at DIFC: Starting AED 65,000/year for 861 sq.ft.
- Office space for sale at DIFC: Starting AED 1,250,000 for 897 sq.ft.
Best Towers: Burj Daman, Central Park Tower, Liberty House, Index Tower.
Find out all about the available office space at DIFC for rent on Property Finder.
You can also get an idea about available office space for sale at DIFC easily on Property Finder.
Part of Meydan Group, setting up your business in Meydan means the ultimate luxury is associated with your brand. The economic district is one of the most sophisticated addresses in Dubai.
Meydan is located in Nad Al Sheba, Dubai.
- Office space for rent at Meydan: Starting AED 55,000/year for 682 sq.ft.
- Office space for sale at Meydan: Starting AED 650,000 for 330 sq.ft.
Find out all about the available office space for rent at Meydan on Property Finder.
You can also check available office space for sale at Meydan gathered on Property Finder to make your decision easier.
14. Techno Park
Techno Park is a technology-driven free zone where some of the world’s most notable companies in the fields of IT, oil, and gas are calling home.
National Industries Park (NIP)
NIP is a free zone that’s under the authority of Techno Park and is poised to be among the leading industrial parks in the region. Companies working in the logistics supply chain field have set up shop at NIP.
NIP is located in Mina Jebel Ali Techno Park, Dubai.
Cheapest Free Zones in Dubai
Free zones in Dubai truly offer competitive packages to start up your business as easily as possible.
If you’re on the lookout for the most low-cost way to build your business roots in the city, many offer the use of office space within the overall package when applying for your license.
So what are the cheapest free zones in Dubai? You might want to consider one of the following:
- Dubai Airport Free Zone
- Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
- Dubai Internet City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Silicon Oasis
- Dubai South
- Jebel Ali Free Zone.
Now that you have an idea behind the meaning of free zones in Dubai and everything they entail, it’s time to consider creating your business there. Dubai is constantly growing and now you can be part of the change.