Tuesday, November 30

Free zones and new visas attract startups and entrepreneurs

On September 5, the Government of the United Arab Emirates announced a roadmap for the next 50 years. This plan is for the economic, political and social growth of the country.

The UAE created new visas to attract new talent. They will target highly skilled individuals, investors, entrepreneurs, students, and top-notch graduates.

Previously, Dubai announced that a new telework visa has been made available to workers around the world. This one-year visa allows employees to work in Dubai even if their company is based in different countries.

The new visa is similar to the virtual work program announced in October 2020, but now foreigners will not be required to have local sponsorship. The new visa allows employers to have employees in the UAE without registering or opening an office in Dubai.

As the world closed in 2020, companies and workers had to adapt the way they work. Employees gained time spent on commuting, while Zoom conference calling replaced traditional boardrooms. Eighteen months later, it seems like the traditional daily 9-5 office routine may not return for everyone. Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook are some of the big tech companies leading the way in making remote work an organizational element.

Seeing an opportunity with the telecommuting visa, Dubai aims to attract talent and experience from around the world. With parts of Europe still locked in, it’s becoming popular to move to work in a vacation destination where restrictions are more relaxed. Many destinations offer visas and similar programs, but Dubai’s tax breaks have made it a favorite.


Costing € 510, the visa grants workers access to all the standard services that residents benefit from, including telecommunications, utilities, and education.

You can apply for the visa on the Visit Dubai website, as long as you meet the requirements below.

1. Passport with a minimum validity of 6 months.

2. Health insurance valid for coverage in the UAE

3. For employees: proof of employment from a current employer with three one-year contracts, a minimum salary of € 4,267 per month, payroll receipt for the last month and bank statements for the previous three months.

4. For entrepreneurs: proof of ownership of the company for a year or more, with an average monthly income of € 4,267 per month and bank statements for the previous 3 months.

For entrepreneurs looking to Dubai, there are many free zones where they can start their own business. Dubai Free Zones are economic areas where companies can exchange goods and services, generally at preferential tax and duty rates. The first free zone, ‘Jebel Ali’ was opened in 1985 to boost international trade and attract foreign investment. Following its success, the Jebel Ali Free Zone created a plan for the other free zones to follow.

Operating in a free zone is a popular option among expat business owners. French native Sabine Arnoult told Euronews that she started her business, ‘The Cobbler’ in a free zone to have 100% ownership of the company. To start a business in Dubai outside of a free zone, you must have a UAE national partner who owns at least 51% of the business.

Entrepreneurs come from countries with high tax rates because the 100% tax exclusion is applicable to free zone companies. This includes income tax and corporation tax.

Spread around the city there are more than 30 free zones. Each is configured to be advantageous for a defined industry. The requirements to establish a company vary from each free zone. You can find details for each free zone in the US. website.


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