UAE Free Zone: Which Is The Right One For Your Business?


The very purpose of establishing a company in Dubai is to connect markets operating across the MENA and Gulf region. Industry clusters and free zones in the emirate offer some of the best international services with expertise in the logistics and export processing. The advantages would allow companies to move closer to overseas clients while target new and emerging markets effectively.

There’re around 34 free trade zones in the UAE accumulating more than 25,000 companies across the sectors. Almost all free zones have similar characteristics but there’s a slight difference in cost and regulations. For instance, a software firm inthe UAE free zone in Dubai and Abu Dhabi regardless of their service niche would’ve cost difference as well as varied operating laws. Formation and management of firms established in these sectors matter most.

For finance

Just as the name implies, theDubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) encompasses all corporate and private banking services alongside the entire financial industry operating in the UAE. The basic advantages are the regulatory procedures and laws holding global acceptance, international stock exchange with primary and secondary listings of equity and debt instruments plus, a dollar-denominated environment.

The Al-Maryah free zone in Abu Dhabi serves areas with similar interests,however; primary focus is on trading commodities, their physical delivery and adherence to the Islamic banking regulations. Some other attractive propositions are residences, hotels, shops, restaurants and medical services.

For trade & logistics

Established in 1985, the Jebel Ali Free Zone is the oldest and largest in the entire MENA and UAE region whereas a hotspot for logistics and trade. It has the finest infrastructure thanks to the location around the Jebel Ali Port which is among the busiest ports. This free zone is connected to the new Al Maktoum Airport and will be linked further with Etihad Rail, thus streamlining the cargo transport across Oman, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Aeronautics and automotive industry are the primary attraction, bringing more than 435 registered companies from around 60 countries around the world. The zone itself host above 7,000 firms with approximately 150 included in the Global Fortune 500.

For media, telecom & IT

The Dubai Internet City is an IT hub for firms targeting regional emerging industries. The circle represents finest names in computing such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Siemens, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard (HP). Located just adjacent to Dubai Media City, it’s a bustling free zone for media and journalism industries. Dubai Silicon Oasis, on the contrary, encompasses IT firms with infrastructure service warehousing and manufacturing. Incubation centres as start-ups can also be found!

For commodity trading

Perhaps the largest UAE free zone in Dubai is theJumeirah Lake Towers free zone which was initially set up to cater the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre; a hotspot for precious stones and jewellery, it emerged into a freehold community for businesses covering a vast range of commercial consultancy activities. Here, you’ll get a guaranteed 50-year income tax holiday whereas close proximity to Abu Dhabi makes it popular.


Largest free zone in Sharjah is the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone and most attractive for its lower fees compared to both Abu Dhabi and Dubai; a real hassle-free approach for business setup. Wide variety and most notable industry names in IT and media rule the sector.

The Ras Al-Khaimah free trade zone is famous for generous incentives that are far better than free zones in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi with nearly 25 percent savings on business operations. Still, if you seek the best of all, Dubai is second to none!


From the details above, identify your business niche and select a free zone!