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The Cheapest Free Zone In UAE

Oct 15, 2022 | Entrepreneurship, Featured Posts

Scores of large global and multinational companies, including many Fortune 500 entities, have set up their offices in the UAE, which now ranks 16th globally in the Ease of Doing Business Index. The same goes true for small and medium businesses and independent entrepreneurs. But what is the cheapest Free Zone in UAE? Let’s find out.

Free Zones in the UAE have contributed substantially to the country’s business-friendly environment. There are over 50 Free Zones in the UAE, each with different rules, regulations, and benefits. Whether you’re interested in using a Free Zone, wanting to know which is the cheapest Free Zone, which Free Trade Zone to use or a Free Zone Licence- this is the article for you!

Selecting a cost-effective Free Zone is crucial whether you’re a foreign investor or seeking economic advantages within certain currency regulation frameworks. We aim to guide you through the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE, detailing their offerings to help you choose the ideal location for your business needs.

What is the Cheapest Free Zone in the UAE?

Let’s take a look at the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE, where you can conveniently form your own business without spending a fortune.

1. Dubai Internet City (DIC)

Dubai Internet City Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

Dubai Internet City (DIC) is a tech-friendly Free zone in the UAE that focuses extensively on infotech businesses. It is also the cheapest Free Zone in the UAE for IT professionals and independent freelancers. DIC is suitable for businesses as small as solo entrepreneurs and multi-national Fortune 500 companies. DIC offers three different types of licences, dependant on the type of business you plan to run.

Top Features

  • Excellent location: DIC’s strategic position in Dubai’s core makes it an optimal hub for global business operations, offering unparalleled access to international markets.
  • Great partnerships: DIC has partnered with Google, IBM, Microsoft, and CISCO for round-the-clock tech support and sustainable tech implementations.
  • Full business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates have the privilege of full ownership and the ability to transfer 100% of their company profits back to their country of origin.
  • Commercial spaces: DIC offers every type of commercial space you may need for your IT business. The commercial space categories are known as D/Quarters (coworking space), Retail (SME-friendly space) and in5 Centres (suitable for large businesses).
  • International events: DIC frequently hosts global IT events, which can help you build a strong professional network.
  • Freelancer licence: DIC is one of the few places in Dubai that approves your licence as a freelancer without having you open a full-fledged business. You can also obtain an employment visa through the GoFreelance program.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the Dubai Internet City Free Zone.

Being a tech-focused Free Zone, DIC offers some of the most affordable Free Zone packages for tech professionals and startups. A one-year employment visa costs only AED 2,750, whereas a three-year visa costs AED 5,000. You will also need to purchase an establishment card for AED 2,000.

Currently, the total cost of obtaining a trade licence as a freelancer starts from AED 7,500 (USD 2,040).

The Dubai Internet City Free Zone has everything you need to set up and sustain your IT business. If you are an IT professional, don’t forget to check DIC before registering your business.

2. Dubai Media City (DMC)

Dubai Media City Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

The Dubai Media City Free Zone (DMC), established by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on May 11, 2001, in the United Arab Emirates, serves as a specialized zone for media and communications businesses. DMC provides various business licences for entities operating within its jurisdiction, supporting a diverse range of media-related activities.

Top Features

  • Freelancer-friendly: DMC provides accessible, quick, and cost-effective freelancer packages tailored to various professions.
  • International community: Within DMC, over 20,000 individuals from more than 2,000 leading companies form a vibrant media community.
  • Full business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates can fully own their companies and transfer all profits back to their country of origin.
  • Suitable for all sizes: DMC serves entities of varying sizes, providing both flexible desk options and larger office spaces.
  • Collaboration opportunities: DMC facilitates the exchange of knowledge among top-tier media companies and independent freelancers.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the Dubai Media City Free Zone.

The Dubai Media City Free Zone provides a variety of licence options suitable for different business activities. Choosing the correct type is crucial as your business might qualify for multiple categories. For instance, manufacturing entities could opt for either a commercial or industrial licence, depending on their specific needs. The licence types include:

  • Service Licence (for companies offering services such as marketing, advertising, accounting, and legal support).
  • Commercial Licence (for entities engaged in selling or distributing goods within Dubai Media City, such as retail outlets, manufacturers, and wholesale businesses)
  • Professional Licence (for companies offering professional services such as engineering, architecture, and medical services).
  • Industrial Licence (for companies manufacturing or processing goods within the DMC Free Zone).

Currently, you can obtain a trade licence and start your business activities in the Dubai Media City Free Zone from AED 7,250 (2000 USD). Dubai Media City is a premier place to run a media business, and it is also one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

3. Hamriyah Free Zone (HFZA)

Hamriyah Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

Founded in 1995, the Hamriyah Free Zone is one of the oldest and cheapest Free Zones in UAE. With a total business area of over 30 million square metres, over 6,500 investors from 163 countries globally have opened their businesses and ventures at Hamriyah.

Top Features

  • Full business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates can fully own their companies and transfer all profits back to their country of origin.
  • Prime location: Hamriyah Free Zone is situated at the confluence of three key transportation centres.
  • Fast service: If you have all the required documentation, it is possible to complete your business registration and obtain a trade licence at Hamriyah within hours.
  • Versatile facilities: Hamriyah offers office space, a warehouse, or land for your business. You can rent the economic office space starting from only 10 square metres.
  • Strong security: Hamiyah provides 24/7 security for clients, so you don’t have to worry about safeguarding your business.
  • Financial stability: You can lease land in the Hamriyah Free Zone with fixed rent for your first five years and be unaffected by inflation.
  • Fully serviced: Hamriyah Free Zone provides 15 different business services on-site, including but not limited to banking and auditing.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the Hamriyah Free Zone.

Hamriyah Free Zone welcomes all investors and entrepreneurs. The cost of setting up your business will depend on the type and size of operations and the facilities you need. The main licence categories are:

  • Commercial Licence (covering trading, general trading, and e-commerce activities).
  • Service Licence (for conducting services or consultancy in listed areas).
  • Industrial Licence (allowing the import of raw materials for manufacturing, processing, assembly, and export of finished products.

The company formation cost at Hamriyah Free Zone starts from AED 9,000 (USD 2,500).

Located in Sharjah, the Hamriyah Free Zone is the second-largest Free Zone in the UAE. Jumpstart your business activities at Hamriyah.

4. Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF)

SAIF Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

Situated in one of the most strategically convenient locations in UAE, the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF) is also one of the cheapest Free Zones in UAE. The zone is near Port Khor Fakkan and Port Khalid, which brings added advantages for industries to transport cargo.

Top Features

  • 100% business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates can fully own their companies and transfer all profits back to their country of origin.
  • Prime location: Hamriyah Free Zone is situated at the confluence of three key transportation centres, with a direct link to the markets of East and West.
  • Easy setup: Once you have all the documentation ready, SAIF can set up your UAE business within one hour.
  • Instant support: SAIF aims to provide instant customer support with 24/7 availability.
  • Versatile offices: SAIF offers various facilities to match your needs. The Free Zone provides office spaces, warehouses, land, and jewellery manufacturing plants.
  • Range of services: SAIF Zone offers a range of consultancy services, including legal assistance, couriers and training.
  • Choice of multiple licencing options: SAIF allows you to choose from becoming a Free Zone establishment, a Free Zone company, a UAE-based company’s branch and a foreign company’s branch.
  • All services under one roof: From visa assistance services to custom clearance – you will find everything your business needs within one location at SAIF.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the SAIF Free Zone.

In the Sharjah Free Zone, there are four main types of licences:

  • Trading Licence (for import, export, distribution, and storage activities, requiring formal documentation and a physical office).
  • Service Licence (for professional services like legal, marketing, and IT, which also requires documentation and office space).
  • Industrial Licence (for manufacturing and production, necessitating compliance with environmental and safety standards as well as industrial premises).
  • Media Licence (for publishing, broadcasting, and advertising activities, with operations limited to licenced services).

The actual cost of your company formation at SAIF Free Zone depends on the licence and business type. You can set up a business with as little as AED 9,000 (USD 2,450). SAIF lets you establish a diverse range of businesses within the facility. Transform your business idea into reality today at SAIF.

5. Ajman Free Zone

Ajman Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

Located near Ajman port and two major airports, the Ajman Free Zone lets you establish various business activities related to project management, services, and consultations. In addition, the Free Zone also supports the establishment of industrial businesses related to waste management, transport services, and IT infrastructure.

Top Features

  • 100% business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates can fully own their companies and transfer all profits back to their country of origin.
  • Business services: You will find many of the services needed to set up and operate your business within close proximity to the Ajman Free Zone. For instance, you won’t have to commute to get a bank account- (instead you may use an international bank in Dubai), medical support, or insurance service. AFZ offers a one-stop counter service for visa processing and many other business services.
  • Strategic location: Ajman Emirate serves as a crucial centre for global commerce and travel.
  • Dedicated customer care: Ajman Free Zone authority provides 24/7 customer support to address any of your problems and queries.
  • Excellent infrastructure: From high-speed internet to a smooth road transportation system, the Ajman Free Zone will provide you with all the necessary business amenities.
  • High-quality air: Ajman Free Zone Authority has installed cutting-edge air quality monitoring systems throughout the Free Zone to ensure a healthy climate and reduce environmental footprints.
  • Fast setup process: In the Ajman Free Zone (AFZ), business licences can be processed and issued in as little as two working days.
  • Low operating costs: Ajman Free Zone offers competitive rates for power, facility usage and leasing.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the Ajman Free Zone.

Ajman Free Zone offers various business licences, and your company formation cost will depend on several other factors, including your business licence type and size of operations. The licence types are:

  • Commercial licence
  • eCommerce licence
  • Industrial/manufacturer licence
  • Service licence
  • Offshore licence

Packages we offer include:

  • Pioneers package – AED 5,000
  • Freelancer package – AED 6,000
  • eCommerce licence – AED 5,600 (extension)

For most business types, you will be able to get the necessary approvals from the Ajman Free Zone starting from AED 11,000 (USD 3,000).

The versatile nature and great affordability have made the Ajman Free Zone one of the most promising places to set up your business in the UAE. Consider Ajman Free Zone to form your Dubai business.

6. Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ)

RAKEZ Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is one of the most versatile and cheapest Free Zones in UAE, where over 50 business sectors are operating within a strong community. RAKEZ comprises two business zones, two industrial zones, and one academic zone.

Top Features

  • 100% business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates can fully own their companies and transfer all profits back to their country of origin.
  • Banking partners: RAKEZ has formed a strong partnership with six leading UAE banks for account opening services and with five banks for easy payment planning.
  • Strategic location: RAKEZ Emirate serves as a crucial centre for global commerce and travel.
  • Tailored packages: Instead of implementing a strict fee structure, RAKEZ aims to fully understand your business goals and offer you a customised package to best suit your needs.
  • Professional advisers: RAKEZ has a team of experts and business consultants whom you can contact for any support.
  • One-stop service: As RAKEZ has separate business and industrial zones, they have customised the facilities to offer the best services possible.
  • Free and Non-Free Zones: RAKEZ lets you choose from both free and Non-Free Zones for company formation.
  • Mobile app: The Free Zone authority has launched a feature-rich mobile app where you can access all the resources you need.
  • Various workspaces: RAKEZ Free Zone offers Flexi Desk workspaces, shell and core offices, warehouses, executive offices and land for development.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the RAKEZ Free Zone.

In the RAKEZ Free Zone, available licences include:

  • Commercial Licence (for trading operations like import, export, and storage).
  • General Trading Licence (covering a wide range of activities).
  • Industrial Licence (for manufacturing and processing).
  • Professional Licence (for sole proprietors with specialized skills).
  • Consultancy Licence (for management and advisory services).
  • Media Licence (for photography and music industry services).
  • E-Commerce Licence (for online trading).
  • Education Licence (for institutions like universities or language schools).

The RAKEZ Free Zone is highly budget-friendly. You can register a business in this Free Zone for AED 11,500 (USD 3,050), which includes the residence visa fees. Go ahead with your business idea with the RAKEZ Free Zone today.

7. DUQE

DUQE Free Zone, one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE.

Overview

DUQE Free Zone stands out as a uniquely affordable option in the UAE. It provides a broad spectrum of benefits similar to those of more costly Free Zones and is ideal for businesses of all sizes across various sectors.

Top Features

  • Excellent location: DUQE has a unique location as the Free Zone is on the QE2 ship. It’s situated within 18 minutes of the Dubai International Airport and 15 minutes from Burj Khalifa.
  • 100% business ownership and capital repatriation: Expatriates can fully own their companies and transfer all profits back to their country of origin.
  • Pricing options: DUQE offers a range of customised packages for entrepreneurs to set up their businesses.
  • One-stop service: DUQE has assembled a very approachable user support team to help you with everything you need for a company formation and Free Zone visa application.
  • On-site assistance: DUQE provides comprehensive support services that include assistance with visa processing, medical and Emirates ID formalities, along with access to a business centre and streamlining administrative tasks for businesses.
  • Fast service: You can get started with DUQE in as little as one week.

Pricing

An overview and pricing information of the DUQE Free Zone.

In the DUQE Free Zone, you can opt for several business licences depending on your activity:

  • Commercial Licence (for selling or trading products).
  • Professional Licence (for offering professional services like coaching or artisan work).
  • Industrial Licence (for manufacturing goods).

DUQE provides an interactive cost calculator where you can indicate your business details and get a cost estimate in no time. The details include:

  • Business Category
  • Number of activities
  • Number of shareholders
  • Number of visas required
  • Availability of business plan
  • UAE residence status
  • Annual turnover
  • Tentative business opening time

Currently, you can obtain a trade licence and start your business activities in DUQE starting from AED 12,500 (USD 3,400).

DUQE is one of the cheapest Free Zones in the UAE. Get started with setting up your business with DUQE Free Zone today.

Why Should You Setup Your Business in a Free Zone in the UAE?

As a startup or business owner, there are many reasons to take advantage of the Free Zones in the UAE:

  • Unrestricted capital and profit repatriation: Free Zones in UAE let you take the entire profit or capital from your business activities back to your home country or wherever you want.
  • 100% foreign ownership: Previously, foreign investors could own up to 49% of a business in the UAE. However, the government of UAE amended the regulation, and now you can own 100% of your business operating in the Free Zones.
  • Tax exemption: Businesses in the Dubai Free Zones are not subject to any personal or corporate income tax.
  • Quick company formation: You can obtain a trade licence and set up your company in the Free Zones in as little as five days.
  • Sector-specific advantages: UAE has several sector-specific Free Zones, where you will find plenty of infrastructural support relevant to your business sector.

There are several categories of Free Zones in the UAE, such as mainland, offshore, economic, free trade, and media. Typically, economic Free Zones are the most affordable ones.

Cheapest Free Zone in UAE

The UAE’s Free Zones, notably Ajman Free Zone, Hamriyah Free Zone, and Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), stand out for their affordability, starting from AED 9,000, AED 11,000, and AED 11,500. They offer key advantages like full ownership, profit repatriation, and strategic locations, making them ideal for a wide range of businesses, from startups to established entities. They also provide strategic logistic benefits and low operational costs. Contact us today for a free consultation on getting your business set up in a Free Zone.

FAQ’s

What is a Free Zone in UAE?

A Free Zone in UAE is a special economic zone that offers ample opportunities for businesses to get started quickly and at relatively lower costs. Businesses enjoy tax exemption in a Free Zone, and foreign business owners can maintain complete ownership of their UAE business.

How Much Does a Free Zone in the UAE Cost?

The cost of setting up a business in a UAE Free Zone varies widely depending on the specific Free Zone, the type of business activity, and the scale of operations. Generally, prices can range from as low as AED 11,000 to AED 50,000 or more for initial setup fees, which includes the cost of the licence, registration, and the least expensive office options like Flexi-Desks.

What is the Cheapest Trade Licence in the UAE?

The cheapest trade licence in the UAE is often found within the Free Zones, particularly in the Ajman Free Zone (AFZ), Sharjah Media City (Shams), and Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone (UAQ FTZ). Ajman Free Zone offers packages starting from around AED 11,000, making it one of the most cost-effective options for obtaining a trade licence. Sharjah Media City (Shams) follows closely, with licences starting from approximately AED 11,500.

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