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Gulf and DIFC corporate structuring

Gulf and DIFC corporate structuring

For many reasons the United Arab Emirates has remained an attractive destination for foreign corporate expansion despite a degree of volatility in neighbouring countries. Why is the Gulf so attractive?

  • Legislation promoting a free market business environment - the Gulf has become a centre for accelerated economic development
  • The development of Free Zones - territories within the UAE that allow industry specific companies to operate without governmental interference
  • Location between four major hubs of international finance – New York, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo
  • Access to key markets - the Persian Gulf, North Africa and the Indian sub-continent are all accessible from the Gulf, offering unparalleled expansion opportunities.

Corporate structuring in The Gulf

The United Arab Emirates legally permits four categories of corporate ownership:

  1. UAE nationals
  2. Nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCCC)
  3. Foreign nationals
  4. Foreign companies.

Because virtually all these business categories are not subject to either corporation or income tax, the UAE has become a major contributor to corporate expansion.

EMICapital has a wealth of experience in helping foreign companies establish successful businesses in the UAE. There are two different approaches - UAE based or Free Zone based - and our skilful team draw upon their network of relationships in the Gulf to help our clients create the corporate structure that will best meet their needs.

Registering your business in the UAE

Establishing a business or branch office in The UAE does require mastering some restrictive ownership conditions, including the requirement that a foreign corporation can only retain 49% ownership and must cede the majority 51% ownership to either the UAE government or a UAE national. There are several forms of legal structure that can be created to support enterprise in the UAE and we are able to help clients define exactly which one is right for them, assist with obtaining a license to do business, as well as introducing them to local partners where appropriate, and establishing business links and networking into the banking infrastructure.

Registering your business with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

The various Free Zones of the Gulf are always attractive options for foreign business as there is little government interference in enterprise and an array of favourable legal and economic structures. Free Zones are industry specific and operate in physically defined geographical areas which are now highly-sought after locations.

There are somewhat more complex licensing procedures for a Free Zone and the DIFC is an offshore free zone hosting financial service institutions and a range of professional services companies, management offices, international corporates and retailers. With a legal system based on English common law, and an exclusive court jurisdiction, the DIFC is a inviting business prospect which requires sage advice and deep local knowledge if maximum benefit is to be extracted from DIFC establishment.

The EMICapital offering is based around a decade of relationship building in the Gulf and a track record of successful establishment of DIFC operating companies. Certain restrictive regulations, including the requirement to lease premises in the DIFC, can be demanding, but our expert team have practical experience of ensuring our clients obtain the right locations to benefit from their 100% ownership of a DIFC operating business and the capacity to return 100% of income back to the corporate owner’s parent country, tax free.

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