The UAE’s free zones are never far from the minds of entrepreneurs setting up in this part of the world. And nor should they be. Offering 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no currency restrictions, and 100% import and export tax exemption – little else compares in terms of business benefits.
But while these are the headline-grabbing advantages of setting up in all free zones, there are many unique advantages depending on the specific one you choose. Take, for example, Dubai Studio City (DSC). Falling under the Tecom Group umbrella, and part of the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA), DSC offers entrepreneurs several advantages that they may not get elsewhere. For example, it’s possible to take office or studio space at Dubai Studio City but register your business in another DCCA free zone such as Dubai Media City (DMC).
And then there are the specific advantages of working in DSC. Aimed at businesses in the broadcasting, film production, TV, music, and entertainment sectors, Dubai Studio City boasts a host of cutting-edge broadcast and production facilities including backlots, sets, water tanks, production suites, recording studios and offices.
Aimed at businesses in the broadcasting, film production, TV, music, and entertainment sectors, Dubai Studio City boasts a host of cutting-edge broadcast and production facilities including backlots, sets, water tanks, production suites, recording studios and offices.
So let’s look at DSC in more detail.
Say Hello to Dubai Studio City
As studio facilities go, DSC is unrivalled in the region. So, if your business could benefit from working in such an environment, here’s everything you need to know about setting up in Dubai Studio City.
1. Affordable setup: Despite being home to some of the biggest names in the business, Dubai Studio City offers affordable licence packages to suit most budgets. A trade licence at DSC starts at around AED 15,000 on top of which you’ll be required to pay for an office lease agreement and monthly rent. If you’re going it alone, DSC also issues freelance permits and packages which usually come in at around AED 25,000 plus a yearly renewal fee.
2. Flexible office options: While office space is mandatory at Dubai Studio City, a flexible option is also on offer if you don’t wish to commit to permanent premises. Simply apply for the DSC freelancers permit as part of a flexi-desk package and you’ll get access to desk space, office equipment, meeting room hire, and reception cover on an ad-hoc basis.
3. Work alongside the best: Dubai Studio City is not just another production lot. Set up here and you’ll be working with the largest sound stage in the Middle East alongside some of the biggest names in the industry, including CNN, BBC and Reuters. Working in such a creative environment alongside household names offers countless networking and collaboration opportunities, not to mention prestige.
4. Visa options: One of the many reasons why DSC is popular with larger companies is that it allows for company formation with multiple visas. There’s no upper limit on the number you can apply for, however, this is linked to the size of your office – the rule is one visa per 80 sq ft.
5. Easily sponsor dependants: As well as making it easy to apply for visas for you and your employees, by registering your business in DSC, you’ll also be able to sponsor dependants for their visas. Whether you wish to sponsor a spouse, child or domestic staff, the process is relatively easy – entry permit, status adjustment, medical fitness test, then Emirates ID registration and visa stamping. As this is such an important process, it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert in setting up UAE free zone businesses. This ensures that before you start an application, both you and those you’re hoping to sponsor meet the entry criteria.
6. Straightforward auditing process: Though not currently mandatory, Dubai Studio City is set to implement auditing requirements from next year – however, they are incredibly straightforward. As of 2018, DSC-registered companies simply need to submit to an annual audit.
7. NOC requirements: When setting up in Dubai Studio City, the person in charge (PIC) is required to provide a no objection certificate (NOC) from their current employer if applicable. However, this is not required of other shareholders.
8. Set up with multiple shareholders: As well as its flexible visa options, there’s another reason for Dubai Studio City’s popularity with large, multinational businesses: it allows for company setup with multiple shareholders. These can be individuals, corporate entities or a combination of the two.
As well as its flexible visa options, there’s another reason for Dubai Studio City’s popularity with large, multinational business: it allows for company setup with multiple shareholders.
9. Location: Dubai’s Studio City’s incredible location makes it the perfect home for international entrepreneurs and businesses. Set in between the busy E311 and E611 highways, the free zone is less than 30 minutes from both of Dubai’s International Airports. For those who like to work among the hustle and bustle of a busy city, Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Beach are also within easy reach.
Live the Dream in Dubai Studio City
So you’re sold on the benefits of setting up your business in Dubai Studio City – what next? There are a number of steps that need to be undertaken, some complex, some less so. The first thing to do is choose your business activity. From here you can decide on your company name, complete and file your registration paperwork with the relevant authorities, open a bank account, and apply for any visas that may be required.
However, the specifics of this process will depend largely on the type of license you are applying for and the kind of business you wish to run. That’s why before starting any of these steps, the first port of call should always be to a company setup expert who will guide you through every part of the application, ultimately ensuring the entire process requires little more than a few hours of your time.