In contrast, the UAE allows foreign businesses to operate within “free zones.” Free zones allow for up to 100% foreign ownership and are subject to reduced or different trade barriers, tariffs, and quotas. However, free zone companies may only operate within the free zone boundaries and are generally limited to performing solely those activities listed in their license(s). If a free zone company chooses to operate outside these boundaries, it must adhere to the requirements of the UAE Commercial Companies Law in compliance with the licensing procedure in the applicable Emirate. Generally, free zones are designated by the government to a specific commercial sector. For a non-exhaustive list of free zones in the UAE, see below.

Different types of licenses that can be issued in a Free Zone are:

  • General Trading License
  • Trading License
  • Industrial License
  • Service License
  • National Industrial License

Listings of most UAE free zones are included below.

Abu Dhabi



Ras Al Khaimah



Umm Al Quwain