How to set up your business in Mainland and get the 100% foreign ownership?

Full ownership in mainland

Dubai is known all over the world to be a paradise for investors. Thanks to new economic and governmental reforms it has become even more interesting to set up a business in the UAE.

If you decide to set up your business in the mainland, you will have to deal with the Department of Economic Development most commonly called DED.

Your business license in Dubai will be issued by DED.

There are 3 different types of DED licenses:

  • Industrial License for manufacture and sale of finished products using raw materials.
  • Commercial License for trading all legally-tradable goods without territorial restrictions.
  • Professional License for individuals or groups engaged in consultancy services, engineering services, accounting services, administrative services, training, education, etc.

In accordance with the federal decree-law No (26) of 2020 that amended some provisions of federal law No (2) of 2015, new amendments made to the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) on June 1st, the foreigners are now being given the possibility to open a business in mainland and get the 100% ownership, subject to some restrictions. This means, they don’t need local sponsor anymore to start a business in Mainland Dubai.

This law invites foreign investors across the globe to start a business in the UAE.

First of all, you need to understand the previous policies and procedures set by DED to have a business in Mainland.

Here what you need to know:

  • there are 2 types of licenses you need to distinguish
    • Professional license: with this type of license it is required to have a local service agent. The difference between the local partner and the service agent is that the local service agent does not have share in the company; he is considered as a representative of your company with the authorities. His signature is mandatory when it comes to government application and other governmental entities. If you have a local service agent be sure that he won’t interfere and you will control your business at 100%.
    • Commercial license: with this type of license, a local partner with at least 51% shareholding was necessary to establish your business in mainland.

But since 1/6/2021, for some categories of activities it is not anymore necessary to have a local partner to start a business in mainland.

Start your 100% foreign-owned business with DED

What has changed with the 1st of June amendments?

Good news for the foreign investors, it is possible to have the 100% ownership of your company while you are in mainland. This law abolishes the requirement of the local partner.

Earlier, a foreigner (and his partners) was able to own a maximum of 49% of the company and the 51% remaining were owned by a local/emirati partner.

Except for few activities considered as professional which were exempt of a local sponsor.

In Dubai, a list of activities has been issued and it concerns more than 1000 economic activities out of 2300 listed by DED. This list if called the Positive List.

Regarding the professional services activities, the 100% ownership of business continues to benefit to foreign investors.

Don’t forget, it is your business activities which will determine the type of license you need to obtain. To get the 100% ownership in mainland your activity should be on the positive list. If your activity is not, you can still ask for an external approval to get the legal permit for this activity.

Why did they bring these amendments?

Few reasons can explain these exceptional measures taken by the government.

  • attract investors to the country
  • improve the country’s economy
  • improve the easiness of doing business in the country
  • prepare and boost the future of the UAE
  • increase global competitiveness for both local and international investors

What are the benefits of 100% ownership in mainland:

  • you can work freely throughout the territory without restrictions as is the case with a free zone company. But not only that, you can also trade internationally
  • with 100% ownership in mainland you also get 100% control on your business
  • no more dependence to a local partner for any administrative procedures
  • flexibility as you will deal directly with DED
  • you don’t need a partner and this is a cost you are saving

If we had to resume in one sentence the new measures, we will say: under the new law non-Emiratis of all nationalities can fully own their business as long as it comes in the list of sectors allowed.

Are you ready to take advantage of the new law and start your 100% ownership business in the UAE?

If you are ready, Merritt is your agent for your company formation !

If you are ready, Merritt is your one-stop solution for company formation

Merritt Middle East presents in Dubai since 2009 has been helping thousands of investors realizing their dreams.

Determine your activity, choose the structure of your choice and let us do the rest.

We provide assistance and advices with every step of your company formation.

To book your appointment with us, please call +971 52 820 0964 or send an email to