10 October, 2023

Holding Company Setup & Costs in Dubai, UAE

holding company setup and cost in dubai

What is a Holding Company?

A holding company is like a parent company that owns other companies. It doesn’t usually make products or provide services itself. Instead, it owns shares or assets of other companies, called subsidiaries. These subsidiaries can be in different industries. The holding company’s main job is to manage and oversee its subsidiaries. This setup can help reduce risks and make it easier to manage different businesses under one roof. Understanding holding companies is important for anyone interested in business, as they play a big role in how corporations are structured and operate.

How Holding Companies Work In Dubai, UAE?

Holding companies work a bit differently in Dubai, UAE. Here, they are often used as powerful tools for business growth, asset protection, and tax benefits. In Dubai, a holding company can own shares or assets in other companies both inside and outside the UAE.

One of the main reasons businesses in Dubai use holding companies is to take advantage of the favorable tax environment. The UAE has no personal income tax and no capital gains tax, making it an attractive destination for investors. Holding companies can help in managing assets and profits efficiently while minimizing tax liabilities.

Moreover, Dubai’s Free Zones offer further incentives for holding companies. They provide 100% foreign ownership, exemption from import and export duties, and simplified business regulations.

Understanding how holding companies work in Dubai is essential for those looking to expand their businesses in the region while maximizing financial benefits and legal protections. It’s a strategy that has helped many companies thrive in this dynamic business hub.


Requirements For Holding Companies in Dubai, UAE


Legal Structure: 

Establishing a holding company in Dubai typically involves choosing a legal structure, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Free Zone Company.

Minimum Share Capital:

 Depending on the chosen structure and location, there may be minimum share capital requirements that must be met.

Shareholder Requirements:

 At least two shareholders are usually required, and they can be individuals or corporate entities. Local shareholders may be necessary in some cases.


A holding company should appoint a board of directors. The number and qualifications of directors may vary depending on the chosen structure and jurisdiction.

Registered Office:

 The company must have a registered office address in Dubai where official documents and notices can be sent.

Business Activity:

 The holding company should define its business activities, which can include owning shares in other companies, managing investments, and more.

Financial Statements:

 Regular financial statements and auditing may be required to ensure transparency and compliance.


Obtaining the appropriate business license, which can vary based on the activities of the holding company, is crucial.


Adhering to local laws, regulations, and tax requirements is essential to operate a holding company in Dubai legally.

Understanding these requirements is vital for anyone interested in establishing a holding company in Dubai, as they can vary depending on factors like the chosen legal structure and the specific business activities of the company.


Types of Holding Company in Dubai, UAE


1. Free Zone Holding Company:

 This type of holding company is established within a specific free zone in Dubai. It offers advantages like 100% foreign ownership, tax exemptions, and simplified business processes. It is ideal for businesses looking to benefit from Dubai’s strategic location and business-friendly environment.

2. Onshore Holding Company:

 Onshore holding companies are set up outside free zones and are subject to UAE Federal Law. They can engage in a broader range of activities, including those outside the UAE. While they don’t offer 100% foreign ownership, they are still an attractive option for various businesses.

3. Offshore Holding Company:

 Offshore holding companies are registered in free zones that specifically cater to international businesses and investors. They provide privacy, asset protection, and tax benefits but may have limited operational activities within the UAE.

4. Mainland Holding Company:

 Mainland holding companies can operate anywhere in the UAE. They have broader business opportunities but require a local Emirati sponsor or service agent.

Each type of holding company in Dubai has its unique advantages and considerations. The choice depends on the business goals, activities, and preferences of the company looking to establish a presence in Dubai.


Benefits Of Opening A Holding Company In Dubai, UAE


1. Tax Advantages:

 Dubai offers a favorable tax environment with no personal income tax, no capital gains tax, and often no corporate tax, making it attractive for holding companies seeking to optimize their tax liabilities.

2. Asset Protection:

 Holding companies can help protect assets by separating them from the operational risks of subsidiary companies, reducing exposure to liabilities.

3. Foreign Ownership:

 Free Zone holding companies allow for 100% foreign ownership, providing full control to international investors.

4. Strategic Location:

 Dubai’s strategic location between Europe, Asia, and Africa facilitates global business operations and trade.

5. Access to Markets:

 Dubai’s well-established infrastructure and business networks provide access to a vast market, both locally and internationally.

6. Legal Framework:

 The UAE has a robust legal system that protects investments and ensures a stable business environment.

7. Financial Services: 

Dubai offers a wide range of financial services, including banking, investment, and wealth management, which can benefit holding companies.

8. Diverse Business Opportunities: 

Holding companies can engage in various activities, from holding assets and investments to trading, real estate, and more, depending on their objectives.

9. Business Growth: 

Dubai’s dynamic and rapidly growing economy can foster business growth and diversification.


How to Open a Holding Company in UAE?


1. Plan Your Business: 

Start by creating a solid business plan that outlines your company’s objectives, structure, and activities. Having a clear roadmap is essential.

2. Choose a Legal Structure: 

Decide on the legal structure for your holding company. Options include Limited Liability Company (LLC), Free Zone Company, offshore entity, or others, depending on your needs.

3. Select a Business Name: 

Pick a unique business name and register it with the relevant authorities. Make sure it complies with UAE naming regulations.

4. Identify Shareholders and Directors: 

Determine who the shareholders and directors of your company will be. Ensure you meet any local ownership requirements if applicable.

5. Decide on Location: 

Choose where your company will be located, whether it’s in a Free Zone or on the mainland, and arrange for suitable office space.

6. Apply for a License: 

Apply for the necessary business license that aligns with your company’s activities. Different types of licenses are available.

7. Gather Required Documents: 

Prepare the necessary documentation, such as shareholder agreements and other legal paperwork. Pay the associated registration and licensing fees.

8. Open a Bank Account: 

Open a corporate bank account in a UAE bank to handle financial transactions related to your holding company.

9. Visa and Labor Contracts:

 If needed, arrange for visas for company personnel and create labor contracts for employees.

10. Ensure Compliance and Taxation: 

Make sure you comply with UAE laws and tax regulations, seeking professional guidance when necessary.

11. Set Up Operations: 

Establish your operational structure, including accounting, HR, and management processes.

12. Commence Business Operations: 

Once all legal and regulatory requirements are met, you can start operating your holding company in the UAE.


Cost Of Starting A Holding Company In Dubai


License Fees:

 You’ll need to pay for a business license, and the cost varies depending on the type of license and business activities you plan to undertake. Free Zone licenses have different fees than mainland licenses.

Share Capital:

 Some types of companies may require a minimum share capital, which you’ll need to deposit in a UAE bank account. The amount depends on the chosen company structure.

Office Space: 

Renting office space in Dubai is a significant expense. Costs vary depending on the location, size, and quality of the office.

Government Fees: 

There are various government-related fees, including registration fees, notary fees, and visa processing fees for employees.

Legal and Professional Fees: 

You may need legal and Business Setup consulting services to help with the registration process. These services come at a cost.

Visa and Sponsorship Costs: 

If you plan to employ expatriates, you’ll need to budget for visa fees and sponsorship costs.

Operating Costs: 

Ongoing expenses include staff salaries, utilities, insurance, and other operational costs.