There are seven different methods by which this can be achieved:
1. General Partnerships:
This entity may only be established between UAE nationals. A general partnership may be established between two or more general partners who are jointly and unlimitedly, to the extent of their personal assets, responsible for the company’s liabilities.
2. Limited Partnerships
This entity is comprised of at least one jointly associated partner liable for the partnership’s obligations to the full extent of their assets, along with at least one inactive partner liable for the partnership’s obligations limited to this partner’s capital contributions. This entity usually has one active partner who manages the company and a silent partner who does not participate in day-to-day management.
3. Joint Participation (Ventures)
This entity is an association between at least two partners who will share the profit and loss in one or more commercial businesses conducted by one of the partners in his or her own name.
4. Public Joint Stock Companies
This entity comprises any company whose capital is split into publicly subscribed negotiable shares of equal value or any company in which a UAE public body holds any share capital. There is a minimum capital requirement of AED 10 million and that capital must adequately achieve the objectives of the company. This entity requires a minimum of 10 founding members. It is important for foreign companies to understand that anyone who signs the initial memorandum and articles of association will be regarded as a founding member and therefore liable. UAE businesses involving banking, insurance or investment of funds on behalf of third parties must take the form of a public joint stock company.
5. Private Joint Stock Companies
This entity requires a minimum of three founding members who, between them, fully subscribe to a minimum capital of AED 2 million. The shares of private joint stock companies may not be offered for public subscription. Private joint stock companies may be converted into public joint stock companies if (i) the company has operated for two or more financial years, (ii) the shares are fully paid up, (iii) the company has achieved net profits distributable to shareholders of an average of at least 10% of its capital during the two years preceding the application to convert, and (iv) a majority of the shareholders holding at least 75% of the company’s shares adopt a resolution of the extraordinary general assembly to convert.
6. Limited Liability Companies
This entity is defined as an association with a maximum of 50 partners and a minimum number of two partners. Each partner’s liability is limited to the extent of its share participation in the capital of the company. LLCs are no longer required to meet the minimum capital requirements of AED 300,000 (in Dubai) and AED 150,000 (in Abu Dhabi and the other Emirates). A new test of “sufficient capital” is to be adjudged by the Department of Economic Development of the relevant Emirate (including consideration of the size and planned activities of the company). Foreign companies wishing to establish an LLC in the UAE should seek guidance on the current practice of the relevant Emirate regarding minimum share capital.
7. Partnerships Limited with Shares
This entity is formed by general partners who are jointly liable to the extent of their personal assets and participating partners who are liable to the extent of their share participation in the company. General partners must be UAE nationals. The minimum capital required to form a partnership limited with shares is AED 500,000, and participating partners are prohibited from being involved with the day-to-day management of the partnership. They may, however, participate in its internal administrative affairs.