All That You Must Know About the Trading Industry in Mainland and Free Zone Dubai

There’s no denying that the United Arab Emirates is a fast-developing trade and economic powerhouse. If you are a first-timer, you must learn that both Mainland and Free Zone businesses contribute significantly to the country’s growth. More and more foreign investors are looking to setting up a business in Dubai – this is essential since the nation practices business-friendly rules, making it a popular choice.

Digging deep will essentially help you realise that a business enterprise that is set up in a free zone can conduct business on the Mainland- subject to the limitations set by UAE legislation. Moreover, you will also realise that most foreign investors find UAE-free zones their immediate choice. This is essential since the handful benefits such as absolute foreign ownership, tax-free zones, and ease of setting up a business in Dubai. 

However, it would be best to consider expanding your business beyond free zones when it meets regular success. Here’s a detailed breakdown of some critical considerations. That you must keep in mind before relocating from a free zone company to the UAE mainland.

Before transferring from a free zone company to the UAE mainland, there are a few things to think about:

Scope of Business Operations

You will find it benefitting as an enterprise to remain in the free zone rather than relocate to the Mainland. If you need quicker trade facilitation through airports and seaports, you will ideally find a Dubai mainland company formation better off in the Dubai Airport Free Zone than on the Mainland.

List of Business Activities

There’s no denying that Dubai free trade zones come with some business activities. That are only available and exclusive to them- and not on the Mainland. This is perhaps why you must examine whether a similar economic activity is available before moving the free zone company licence to the Mainland.

Office Space and UAE Residence Visa

If you are a first-timer, you must realise that obtaining a business licence for the desired business activity is essential for registering a company in the UAE. This is even regardless of whether the company is based in a Free Zone or on the Mainland. The majority of other firms choose to have a physical office address on the Mainland.

UAE Residence Visa through Company Formation

Business Setup in Dubai Mainland primarily gets a two-year visa, while Free Zones typically receive three-year visas for their respective employee’s accommodation. You must keep an eye on the amount of office space booked as it fundamentally determines the Mainland’s employee visa quota.


If your Business Setup in Dubai Mainland is registered on the Mainland, you can effectively open an office anywhere and start doing business in the UAE. You will have the option to register with the chamber of commerce and bid on significant contracts through UAE government tenders.

Branch of a Free Zone Company

There’s no denying that you cannot transfer a Free Zone Company to the Mainland. In this regard, the best you can do is to open a branch with the relevant Department of Economic Development to grow your presence on the UAE mainland. Alternatively, you can choose to close the Free Zone Company and open a Mainland Company Setup Dubai, thereby continuing to do business in the UAE and GCC.

The Most Important Factors to Consider When Selecting A UAE Free Zone

To put it simply, the region’s numerous free zones provide unparalleled regulatory benefits for businesses and organisations. This essentially includes exemptions on trade and currency restrictions, 0% corporate and personal tax, and outstanding regulatory benefits for companies and organisations of all sizes, stages, and verticals.

However, you may find it incredibly challenging to choose the right one for your company. Especially with over forty free zones in the UAE. Here’s a detailed breakdown of five critical criteria to consider when deciding the ideal free zone for you.

Industry-Specific Free Zone vs. General-Purpose Zones

Suppose you are trying to get in grips with industry-specific free zones. In that case, you must realise that the likes of healthcare, financial services, media and creative industries, general trading, etc. Other business categories collectively make the focus point of industry-specific free zones. Here’s a list of the critical benefits of industry-specific free zones. 

  1. Synergy is created as organisations from related industries are encouraged to collaborate, communicate, and outsource work. 
  2. Branding and marketing can help you build your company’s reputation- especially if you are registered with the free zone authorities. 
  3. Exclusive access to free zone trade exhibitions, including networking events, conferences, and other activities that support business growth.

If your company’s scope exceeds a particular niche and requires a generalist strategy, you can go for general-purpose zones. However, you must consider weighing and comparing the advantages of each type.


There’s no denying that the location of your commercial firm has a considerable impact on the characteristics of each free zone. Another significant influence is infrastructure, as particular free zones will access target markets. This is fundamentally vital for companies that rely on imports and exports.


It’s essential mentioning that every free zone comes with a unique set of facilities. You may need extensive production facilities, warehouses, and staff housing for your manufacturing enterprises. On the other hand, you may be on the hunt for low-cost office space for your start-ups. This is significant since some free zones require real office space to establish a firm, while others do not.


There’s no denying that applying for a trade licence could get messy and complicated. If you don’t have any prior experience with it. Therefore, you must ideally consider hiring Dubai mainland company formation consultants. The professionals have industrial experience in dealing with a varied list of restrictions. And possible licences- often provided by the authorised commercial activity in each free zone. 

Final Thoughts

If you are looking to collaborate with an experienced and reliable Mainland Company Setup Dubai consultant, you may choose to contact Dubai Business Setup today. They are a household name in the market and have accumulated a decade-long experience. This is for helping foreign people set up business in the UAE. 

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