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Your Swiss Advisor in the United Arab Emirates. 

The United Arab Emirates is the Middle East's second largest economy, after Saudi Arabia, and one of the wealthiest countries in the region on a per capita basis. Its GDP in 2021 was worth US$ 402.9 billion (UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre).

With the beginning of oil exports in the early 1960s, the country's society and economy have been transformed. Today, the UAE's economy is the most diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and has become an important global landmark, international aviation and maritime trade hub. After diversification efforts from the government, the country is now much less reliant on oil and gas and is economically focusing on tourism and business. According to the latest World Bank report, the UAE was ranked first in the Arab world and 11th globally, making it a hotspot for foreign investors.

Why consider the UAE?

  • World-class infrastructure facilitiesand connectivity(more than 280 international connectionsfrom UAE airports, two billion people live within a flight range of 4 to 5hours)
  • High quality of life, safe and secure family environment with one of the lowest crime rates in the world
  • Political stability and liberal business environment
Investor Opportunities
  • Business and trade hub for MENA, Subcontinent and Central Asia, recognised financial hub with DIFC and ADGM
  • Attractive tax regime
  • Extensive network of tax treaties with over 80 countries and more currently being ratified
  • No exchange control restrictions and the possibility of unrestricted repatriation of income/profits and capital
Setting up Business in the UAE
There are two types of investment options in the UAE:
  • Mainland UAE, where three main different types of entities are available (i.e. limited liability companies, branches, civil company); and
  • Free zones, allowing 100% foreign ownership however restricted in the geographic scope of operations.

To penetrate the UAE mainland market and accommodate locally-based customers and/or governmental bodies, UAE mainland establishments are the only option. In certain  cases, foreign investment into UAE mainland companies require a UAE shareholder or agent (either Emirati individual or fully Emirati owned legal entity).

There are currently around 40 Free Zones operating in the UAE. Some Free Zone are "themed" and designed around one or more commercial categories (catering for specific industries), e.g. Dubai Health Care City, Dubai International Finance Centre (the Dubai financial centre) or the Dubai Gold and Diamond Park only offering licenses to companies within those categories. Other free zones are rather general, e.g. Dubai Multi Commodity Centre, offering a wide range of commercial activities.

Investors can either register a new limited liability company in the form of a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) with one shareholder or a Free Zone Company (FZC) with two or more shareholders or establish a branch or representative office of an existing or parent company based within the UAE or abroad.

The main advantages of setting up in one of the Free Zones are:
• 100% foreign ownership possible
• Corporate taxation incentives
• Freedom to repatriate capital and profits
• Full exemption from import duties (outside the Free Zone it is 5%)
• Reduced bureaucratic red tape
• State of the art infrastructure
• Most procedures are in English