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Dubai Airport Free Zone

Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA) become operational in 1996 as one of the first free economic zones in Dubai along with Jebel Ali. Today, this fast-growing free zone accounts for 4.7% of Dubai's GDP. And its contribution to Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade is a whopping 11% (data for 2018).

DAFZA covers an area of ca. 700,000 square meters with 15 high-rise office buildings and 290 warehouses. It currently houses around 2,000 regional and global companies from across various sectors, including electronics and energy, IT and telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, technology and construction materials, aerospace, logistics and cargo, food and beverage, jewellery and luxury.

DAFZA also hosts an impressive line-up of multinational Fortune 1000 companies, including Airbus, VW Audi, Bentley, Boeing, Chanel, DHL, Estee Lauder, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Red Bull, Sumitomo and Yamaha Motors.

Advantages

  •  Companies with foreign ownership are 100% tax exempt, and shareholders of any nationality can fully own their companies without the need for a local sponsor.
  •  Since 2020, personal presence of company representatives is not required to register a company at DAFZA. The entire process is carried out remotely; documents are signed electronically via digital signature service “DocuSign”.
  • In 2012, DAFZA was recognized as the best free economic zone in the world by Foreign Direct Investment magazine, a member of The Financial Times.
  • DAFZA is continuously investing in new software, improving its systems, facilities and infrastructure to meet the latest business requirements. The free zone also puts a focus on post-investment care, ensuring that the company is well supported once established.
  • As its name suggests, DAFZA is located near Dubai International Airport – the largest airport in the UAE and Gulf Region.
  • The minimum share capital for companies registered here starts from just AED 1,000 (USD 272) and doesn’t have to be paid out.
  • DAFZA is one of the four free economic zones in Dubai (along with DMCCDIFC and Jebel Ali) providing companies with a unique opportunity to obtain a dual license. That means that the company will have a common license to operate in free zones and overseas, as well as a license issued by the Dubai Economic Department (DED) to operate in the mainland without a local sponsor. * For this purpose, DAFZA signed a special agreement with DED in 2019.

Companies with foreign ownership registered in Dubai’s mainland (with a DED license) are required to partner with a local sponsor who will own 51% of the company’s shares. 

Disdvantages

  • 2 to 4 weeks are required to set up a fully operational company.
  • The cost of office and warehouse lease is relatively high. For example, in 2020, the annual cost of a fully furnished office (25 sq. m) is AED 62,500 (US$ 17,015). A warehouse (350 sq. m) can be rented for AED 423,500 (US$ 115,288) per year.

DAFZA HeadquartersTypes of companies

  • FZE (Free Zone Establishment) – company with a single shareholder
  • FZCO (Free Zone Company) – company with multiple shareholders (from 2 to 50)
  • Branch of an existing foreign company; no minimum share capital is required

Shareholders may be both individuals and legal entities. Optionally, a discounted business license can be purchased for two or three years.

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