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Ask Louise – Setting up a Business in Dubai

ask louiseQuestionI’m an expat wife and I cant have kids. Back home in South Africa I was finally making it as a designer in the Fashion industry and lectured for almost 10 years in Fashion. Two and a half years ago my husband got relocated to Dubai and so my career took a huge knock. I’ve been going crazy trying to keep myself occupied finding any odd jobs and things to keep me busy .. but now I’ve had enough. I need to have my career back to and start designing and making clothes again otherwise I’m going to loose my mind.  Being an expat wife is hard and challenging when it comes to work. Can you point me a direction of what are laws and what would it involve if I wanted to start up a little design studio, and employ a tailor so I can supply some stores in Dubai with small ranges of clothing. Please can you help with info on the legal issues.

AnswerFor the legal issues Ask Louise contacted Danish Jaleel at Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultancy:

Under the context of UAE local law, expatriates can do  business in UAE in two ways, either inside the local market with a UAE local as shareholder/partnership/agent or in different Free-zone of UAE.

Inside UAE (Dubai)
There are two main categories of license arrangement with UAE local.


1.  LLC (limited Liability Company) license with 51% shareholder of UAE local and 49% distribute between Expatriates.

2.  Sole Establishment (LSA), as Local Service Agent, where Expatriate will be the 100% owner of the Company and UAE local will be the Local Service agent (only in professional services license) not applicable if do trading in free zone.

Free zone
Expatriate may also get the Free zone License only as professional license as a designer with 100% ownership, but cannot do trading inside UAE local market without distributor or agent, license from Economic department.

 In our opinion, they should have to incorporate LLC license under Dubai DED (Department of Economic Development) and start doing their business activity.

Further, initially she needs the place in Dubai market where she will develop the designing Studio and workshops, with business address, P. O box and telephone line.  Legally you will only get the work permit/visa for you and your staff, where you incorporate the company.


Manager – Business Consultancy



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