Ownership Rules for Business Partners

, Leadership

To ensure that as many different nationalities as possible can maximize their business potential in Dubai, there are different categories of business ownership rules.

The information below will help you decide which ones apply to you.

UAE Nationals

United Arab Emirates Nationals can operate all commercial, professional and industrial businesses.

Possible Legal Business Forms

Along with individual and home-based businesses, called Intelaq, UAE Nationals can partner with any nationalities or businesses to form the following:

  • Civil Company
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Private Shareholding Company (also known as a Private Joint Stock Company, PJSC)
  • Public Shareholding Company
  • Simple Limited Partnership
  • Partnership Company

Partnerships with other UAE Nationals

When two or more UAE Nationals form a business, or partner with an existing business wholly owned by Emiratis, the share of company ownership is up to them to decide.

Here is a simple recap:

  • UAE National + UAE National
  • UAE National + UAE National owned company

Partnerships with GCC Nationals

GCC Nationals can own commercial, professional and industrial businesses, except for activities related to Haj and Umra, trade agencies, residences for people with disabilities or the aged, community service organizations, journal and magazine publishing and printing houses.

If UAE Nationals create a company with GCC Nationals, the share of company ownership is up to them to decide.

And if UAE National business owners partner with GCC National business owners, they can decide their own share of the new company as long as the companies are owned entirely owned by GCC Nationals and UAE Nationals.

The same rule applies to individual GCC and UAE Nationals who want to partner with an existing company.

Here is a simple recap. And remember, in all these cases, it is up to the individuals and company owners to decide on the share of company ownership.

  • UAE National + GCC National
  • UAE National owned company + GCC National
  • UAE National + GCC National owned company
  • UAE National owned company + GCC National owned company or a company owned entirely by GCC and UAE Nationals

GCC Nationals cannot be owners of a Partnership Company or Public Shareholding Company, except as public shareholders.

Partnerships with other nationalities

When UAE Nationals create a civil company or a legal consultancy with Nationals of other countries, the share of company ownership is up to them to decide.

When UAE Nationals form a business with Nationals of other countries that is not a civil company or a legal consultancy, the UAE Nationals must own 51% of the new company.

Requirements for UAE Nationals to Create a Business

To Apply for a Business License , you will need:

  • A copy of valid UAE. passport
  • A copy of Khulasat Al Qaid for first license issued
  • A valid tenancy contract for the business location

There are also business activity requirements. Please refer to Activity Requirements for DED and third party.

Legal Form Requirements

For all companies, you will need to provide the Memorandum of Association authenticated by a Notary Public, issued from any Notary Public/ Court within the UAE.

Partner Requirements

For all companies, having a UAE National in any license means there is no need for a local service agent for the foreign partner.

When there is a local service agent, you need to have the Local Service Agent Agreement , authenticated by any Notary Public/Court within the UAE.

GCC Nationals

GCC Nationals can own commercial, professional and industrial businesses except for activities related to Haj and Umra, trade agencies, residences for people with disabilities or the aged, community service organizations, journal- and magazine-publishing, and printing houses.

Legal Business Forms

GCC Nationals can create their own businesses as well as partnerships to create the following:

  • Civil Company
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Private Shareholding Company (also known as Private Joint Stock Company, PJSC)
  • Simple Limited Partnership

GCC Nationals cannot establish a Partnership Company or Public Shareholding Company, but can own public shares.

Partnerships with UAE Nationals

If GCC Nationals create a company with UAE Nationals, the share of company ownership is up to them to decide.

And if GCC National business owners partner with UAE National business owners, they can decide their own share of the new company as long as the companies are owned entirely owned by GCC Nationals and UAE Nationals.

The same rule applies to individual GCC Nationals who want to partner with an existing UAE owned company.

Here is a simple recap:

  • GCC National + UAE National
  • GCC National owned company + UAE National
  • GCC National + UAE National owned company
  • GCC National owned company + UAE National owned company or a company owned entirely by GCC and UAE Nationals

Partnerships with other nationalities

When GCC Nationals create civil companies with Nationals of other countries, the share of company ownership is up to them to decide. Unless the business is a legal consultancy, the company must use a local services agent.

For an LLC or Private Shareholding Company (also called a private joint-stock company, PJSC) UAE Nationals must own at least 51% of the shares. The other partners can decide on the remaining shares between themselves.

Requirements for GCC Nationals to Create a Business

  • A copy of valid passport
  • A valid tenancy contract for the business location

There are also business activity requirements. Please refer to Activity Requirements for DED and third party.

Legal Form Requirements

For all companies, you will need to provide the Memorandum of Association authenticated by a Notary Public, issued from any Notary Public/ Court within the UAE.

Partner-Based Requirements:

For all companies, having a UAE National in any license means there is no need for a local service agent for the foreign partner.

When there is a local service agent, you need to have the Local Service Agent Agreement , authenticated by any Notary Public/Court within the UAE.

Other Nationalities

Nationals of countries other than the UAE and GCC can own commercial, professional and industrial businesses.

Legal Business Forms

Nationals of countries other than the UAE and GCC can create a business to practice any listed professional activities The business must have a Local Services Agent, unless it is a legal consultancy. Other nationalities can also create the following legal business forms:

  • Civil Company
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Private Shareholding Company (Private Joint Stock Company, PJSC)

The special conditions for the creation of each of these types of companies is detailed below.

Civil Company

Individuals from countries other than the UAE and GCC can form a civil company to practice a recognised profession. A Local Services Agent who is a UAE National must be appointed or included as a partner. For Legal Consultancies, however, a UAE National partner is not needed.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC can be created to operate any commercial, professional or industrial activity, apart from professional activities such as auditing, accountancy and legal consultancy. For more details check Legal Forms – LLC .

One or more UAE Nationals must be included as partners, whose shares must be at least 51% of the paid-up capital.

Other nationalities cannot establish a Partnership Company and a Limited Partnership cannot include a corporate body.

Private Shareholding Company (Private Joint Stock Company PJSC)

Nationals from outside the UAE can form a private shareholding company for any commercial or industrial business. One or more of the partners must be UAE Nationals, whose shares must be at least 51% of the paid-up capital.

Nationals of other countries cannot form a public shareholding company in the UAE. They can only buy shares.

Here is a simple recap:

  • For a Legal Consultancy, no UAE Local Service Agent is needed
  • Civil Company: A UAE Local Service Agent is needed, but does not hold any ownership shares
  • LLC: A UAE National partner must hold at least 51% of the shares
  • Private Shareholding Company (Private Joint Stock Company): A UAE National partner must hold at least 51% of the shares
  • Other nationalities cannot establish a Partnership Company
  • Other nationalities cannot practice certain professional activities such as auditing, accountancy and legal consultancy. For more details check Legal Forms – LLC.

Requirements for Other Nationalities to Create a Business

  • A copy of valid passport
  • A copy of valid residency visa. Read more about Residency Requirement
  • A valid tenancy contract for the business location

Business Activity Requirements

For activity-based requirements, please refer to Activity Requirements for DED and 3rd Party.

Legal Business Form Requirements

A Memorandum of Association, authenticated by a Notary Public and issued by any Notary Public or court within the UAE is required.

Partner-based Requirements

For all companies, having a UAE National in any license means there is no need for a local service agent for the foreign partner.

When there is a local service agent, you need to have the Local Service Agent Agreement , authenticated by any Notary Public/Court within the UAE.

Corporate Bodies

In partnership licences, one partner may be a company and not an individual. This partner is called a ‘Corporate Body’.

In Dubai, the business license for a corporate body is based on the nationality of its partners.

When a corporate body enters into a partnership to form a commercial or industrial company, it does not need to have any commercial or industrial background of its own.

But when the business is professional, the corporate body must practice the same activities as the new company.

The conditions for establishing different types of businesses are the same as for individuals, depending on the nationality of the owners of the Corporate Body.

All the rules for different nationalities listed above are the same for a corporate body.

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