The UAE federal constitution was permanently accepted in 1996 and provides for an allocation of powers between the federal government and the government of each Emirate.
Establishing a Legal Presence in the UAE
In order to conduct business in the UAE, a foreign investor is required to establish a formal legal presence (directly or through an agent) within the UAE through any of the following means:
- incorporating a local entity;
- registering a branch or representative office of a foreign company;
- establishing a free zone entity; or
- entering into a commercial agency relationship.
Further details of each of these means is set out below. A matrix summarizing the pros and cons of the means likely to be most relevant to foreign investors is set out in Appendix 1
Dubai. Free zones are authorised to enact their own laws and regulations in specific areas, which in some cases override federal and Emirate law on the subject matter. For example, the Dubai International Financial Centre (the DIFC), which is a financial free zone within Dubai, has its own body of law, including corporate law, contracts law and employment law, as well as its own court system.
The main benefit of a free zone entity is that it can be wholly owned by a foreigner. Free zone entities are also granted certain ancillary financial benefits
A successful registration will result in a certificate of incorporation, registration, or continuation, and a commercial license
Incorporated companies can choose from a variety of real estate options, according to the scale and scope of their requirements. Available options include:
- Leased offices
- Serviced offices and meeting facilities