Setting Up In Dubai Design District

April 15 2019

Setting Up In Dubai Design District

There’s a place for everybody in Dubai. It’s the link between the East and the West, and is home to a wide variety of peoples and cultures that make life in the emirate exciting.

Beyond being a melting pot of different cultures, the city is known to be the place to go to if you want to experience new and incredible activities and/or sights. The UAE holds around 190 world records and many of these are located in Dubai!

To augment its position as a regional and international hub for stunning sights and awesome feats, last 2013 the Dubai Design District (d3) opened to accommodate professionals in fashion, creativity, and design.

If you are a startup hoping to set up in the country and leave your mark, this is the ideal place for your budding business for several reasons:


Dubai Design District is located in the heart of Dubai, a stone’s throw away from Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. It is well connected to all major roads, and the prestigious Zabeel district. A large number of people working in Dubai Design District also live within 10 minutes of the free zone. 

Straightforward setup

First, submit an application form, business plan, and shareholder passport for approval. Once the application has been approved, reserve your office space (this is mandatory in Dubai Design District) and you’re ready to go. It’s quick and easy, giving you more time to jump straight into operations.

Dual licensing

You can set up in Dubai Design District with an option of having a mainland DED License as well. While the DED License has a different ownership structure, setting up in D3 can allow you to have the flexibility of serving the local Dubai market too!

A haven for creatives

The d3 community does not disappoint. Choosing to work here is choosing to work alongside world-class brands like Adidas, Chanel, Givenchy, and more.

Set up with multiple shareholders

This free zone that’s home to large international corporations – so d3 allows for company set-up with multiple shareholders. And 100% foreign ownership!

Visa options

d3 offers flexible visa options linked to the size of your office. You can avail of one visa per 80 sq ft of space.

Easily sponsor dependents

Registering in Dubai Design District not only makes it easy to apply for visas for you and your employees – you will also get the opportunity to sponsor their dependents as well. While the process is fairly straightforward – entry permit, status adjustment, medical fitness test, EID registration, and visa stamping – it can be bothersome, especially if you are not familiar with the local laws. It is advised that you first approach an expert in setting up UAE free zone business to ensure that before starting an application, both you and those you hope to sponsor meet the entry criteria.

Easy to set-up your corporate bank account

After receiving your license and establishing your business here in d3, applying for a bank account will be your next priority. The d3 staff are ready to advise you on the best bank to suit your needs and even arrange meetings in-branch for you if need be. Alternatively, you can also approach a company formation specialist for this service, or you can approach any local or international bank yourself.


Advantages of company formation in D3

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • 0% corporate tax for 50 years
  • 0% personal income tax
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits
  • 0% import or re-export duties
  • No currency restrictions
  • No restrictions on foreign talent or employees

In addition to this, company formation in the Dubai Design District can derive benefits from the extensive network of double-tax avoidance treaties that the United Arab Emirates has signed with countries worldwide, including countries such as India, Pakistan, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Austria and Holland.

Dubai offers the additional benefits of a very high standard of living and a vibrant expatriate community with people from over 180 nations living and working in the region.


A wide range of design-related activities can be chosen for company formation in Dubai Design District.

  • Marketing
  • Fashion (except Manufacturing)
  • Fashion – (including Manufacturing )
  • Luxury (except Manufacturing)
  • Luxury – (including Manufacturing )
  • Interior, Furniture and Objects (except Manufacturing)
  • Interior, Furniture and Objects –( including Manufacturing)
  • Design
  • E-Commerce
  • Ancillary Services
  • Beauty Care
  • Art
  • Freelancer
  • Marketing Services
  • Event Management


The following are the costs associated with company formation in Dubai Design District:

Registration fee – US$ 960 (AED 3,520)

License fee (per segment) – US$ 4,110 (AED 15,020)

Additional segment fee  for manufacturing activity – US$ 1,362 (AED 5,000)

License fee for additional segments (per segment) – US$ 4,110 (AED 15,020)

Share Capital* – US$ 13,700 (AED 50,000) – This has to be deposited in an account in the name of the company. Can be subsequently used as working capital.

Dubai Internet City has only physical offices to choose from. The company would be eligible for 1 visa for every 8 square metres of office space.

Commercial offices (unfitted) – from 1,000 square feet at US$ 50 per sq.ft. per annum. 


The company will have to apply for an Establishment Card, in order to commence the processing of visas. An additional document required is a Power of Attorney, in case a PRO is appointed.

Establishment Card – AED 1,770 (US$ 482)

Power of Attorney – AED 1,500 (US$ 410)

The next step will be applying for the visas. Here are the approximate costs:

Employment Visa – applicant outside the country – AED 3,280 (US$ 894)

Employment Visa – applicant inside the country, no status change – AED 4,120 (US$ 1,125)

Employment Visa – applicant inside the country, with status change – AED 4,910 (US$ 1,340)

Visa Guarantee (refundable deposit) – AED 2,500 (US$ 682)

Medical Test, Emirates ID – AED 1,240 (US$ 338)

Has d3 won you over? What will your next steps be? There are several steps you’ll need to accomplish, with varying levels of difficulty and requirements depending on the type of license you are applying for and the kind of business you are planning to run. It is recommended that before going through the process, you already have a trusted company expert by your side to guide you through your application, ensuring that you go through the entire process as efficiently as possible.

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