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Establishing a Company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone

Establishing a Company in Jafza

Less than thirty kilometers from the city of Dubai lies the area of Jebel Ali, which is one of the largest ports in the Middle East.  Jebel Ali is not only a port but also a free zone, and with its favorable geographical location linking the European and Asian markets with the rest of the world, it has become very attractive to foreign and local investors alike. 


Jebel Ali area is one of the largest free zones in the world, located towards the south of Dubai in the UAE, it provides investment advantages and a stimulating economic environment. Setting up a company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone offers the following advantages:

  • Corporate and Individual Income Tax exemptions;
  • 100% foreign ownership permitted;
  • No customs duties payable in respect of import or re-exports;
  • Simple laws and administrative procedures;
  • Provides the necessary infrastructure, warehouses, silos, and means of distribution;
  • A network of sea, land and air transportation that facilitates access to global markets;
  • The freedom to transfer money abroad without any restrictions;
  • No restriction on recruitment of foreign talent or employees;
  • No restriction on capital repatriation.


The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) is a government body responsible for the oversight of the Jebel Ali Free Zone and was established by a decree issued by the Government of Dubai on 9 February 1985. 

The Authority has the following responsibilities assigned to it:

  • Issuing trade licenses;
  • Provision of technical assistance and expertise;
  • Employment of labor, preparation of residency visas, provision of housing, transportation, facilities and medical services etc.;
  • Insurance services and responding to investor inquiries and requests.

Establishing a Company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone

When establishing a company in Jebel Ali, the following must be finalized prior:

  • Choose the right place/site for the company.
  • Choose the type of commercial activity and the legal form for the company;
  • Choose a trade name that is authorized and not already in use by another company.
  • Initiate the procedures and permits necessary to conduct business;
  • Preparing worksite leasing agreements;
  • Issuance of the commercial license.

Business Setup in Jebel Ali Free Zone

Determining the type of Commercial Activity which the Company will be Engaging in

Determining the type of activity that the company will engage in is the first step in establishing a company. This is important to determine the required license, obtain initial approval of a trade name and choose the number of partners in the company etc. Dubai offers more than 2000 commercial activities spread over a wide economic field including commercial, industrial, professional businesses. This provides the investor with a wide range of choices and increases the possibility that the prospective company will find a suitable registration category for its envisaged business activity.

In the rare circumstances where a company is unable to find the suitable registration category for its activity, the registrant may engage with the classification department within the Department of Economic to develop the best description of the activity which the prospective company wishes to engage in.

Determining the Legal Form of the Company

A company may take one of the following forms:

  1. Joint Liability Company
  2. Simple Commandite Company 
  3. Limited Liability Company 
  4. Public Joint Stock Company
  5. Private Joint Stock Company

Selecting a Suitable Trade Name for the Company:

After determining the type of commercial activity and the legal form of the company, its trade name must be selected. The name selected must comply with the various requirements as prescribed by the UAE trademark legislation, namely: 

  • Referral to the relevant authorities to verify the trade name and whether it is currently in use;
  • The name may not violate the public morals in the region;
  • The name must be consistent with the nature of the company’s activity and its legal form
  • The name may not include any names or logos of bodies and institutions, whether local or Arab or international
  • The name may not be identical to any local or international trademark.