Setting Up In Dubai South

April 01 2019

The Dubai World Central (DWC) Free Zone is located in Dubai South – a highly anticipated development that is expected to support a number of activities such as logistics, aviation, commercial, exhibition, humanitarian, residential, and other related businesses surrounding the Al Maktoum International Airport.

Have you heard of the term aerotropolis? It refers to the creation of cities with airports at its core. Transportation infrastructure has always governed the evolution economic position of cities, and from seaports to rivers to railroads and roadways, Dubai South now takes the next step in the evolution of urban development by creating a city with an airport – the Al Maktoum International Airport – at its core. This provides companies with the ideal platform for extending their reaching and taking a more active participation in the global value chain.

Dubai South is the preferred gateway to the emerging and dynamic markets of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia – a region with a GDP projected to reach $12.8 trillion by 2022-23.

The Dubai South Logistics Corridor, running across over 200 square kilometres custom bonded zone, connects air, land and sea, setting a new global standard for goods handling – a little under four hours from sea to air.

The emerging free zone, dubbed as the “City of You“, is expected to become a preferred destination for people to live, work, and invest in. Here are some of the factors that make Dubai South your preferred destination. 

World Expo 2020

Dubai is the first city in the entire MENASA region to host the World Expo 2020 – and this free zone is set to be the venue for it! We will be seeing plenty of new hotels, shopping centres, residential and commercial compounds pop up within the area. This once-in-a-lifetime celebration – the largest event ever staged in the Arab world – is set to welcome 190 participating countries, and millions of visitors from across the globe. Here they will experience warm Emirati hospitality at its finest, as well as the UAE’s values of inclusion, tolerance and cooperation. 

Al Maktoum International Airport

The Al Maktoum International Airport is destined to become the world’s largest airport with a capacity to fly more than 220 million passengers and 16 million tons of cargo a year. The airport is located within the Dubai South development.

Aviation District

Situated next to the Al Maktoum International Airport, the Aviation District has a VIP Terminal which caters to the exclusive needs of business travellers, VIPs and dignitaries. It also has parking hangars for private jets, an education and training cluster anchored around the Emirates Flight Training Academy, and a facility dedicated to the training of pilots.

In addition, the design of the Aviation District takes full advantage of its strategic location close to Jebel Ali Seaport and adjacent to the Dubai South Logistics District.

Jebel Ali Sea Port

An essential feature of the district is the Dubai Logistics Corridor – that’s a bridge connecting Dubai South and the Al Maktoum International Airport with the Jebel Ali Port, establishing an entire custom-bonded free zone that covers an area of over two hundred square kilometres. This enables the free movement of goods between the sea port and the airport in a single custom-bonded zone.

Infrastructure and Road Access

Dubai South is located close to some of the major trans-emirate road networks in the UAE, such as the Emirates Road, the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road, and the Sheikh Zayed Road. This augments its efforts to build a logistics hub, because it provides unrivaled levels of connectivity, speed, and efficiency. In fact, many leading logistics companies are currently operating from the area, some of which are Aramex, DHL, and Panalpina. Companies operate from the Business Park buildings, which are strategically built between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and are the ideal place for your long-term business growth.

Real Estate

Offering a wide range of housing options, the Dubai South community will be home to a diverse population. The developers have earmarked plots of leasable land for all types of development, including Education, Wellness & Healthcare, Retail, Residential and Leisure & Hospitality.

Residents will find all their needs are located just outside their front door, including an interconnected network of parks, open spaces and plazas structured for beauty, convenience and recreation; a 250,000 sq. ft. wellness centre; and a solar powered urban farm.

Free Zone Benefits

You’ll enjoy setting up your business in an area that offers you all the benefits of a free zone – complete foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, and a single-window clearance. 

Setting up a business in Dubai South

Advantages of DWC Free Zone company formation

  • 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 DWC 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.


DWC Free Zone offers a wide range of business activities which are categorised into the following licenses:

  • Logistics License – allows the holder to carry out specified logistic services. This allows the holder to be able to pick up and deliver (but not sell) products within the UAE;
  • Industrial License – allows the holder to carry out a special light manufacturing activity;
  • Trading License – allows the holder to import, export, sell, distribute and store items specified in the license;
  • Service License – allows the holder to carry out services specified in the license within the DWC Free Zone and elsewhere in the UAE; and
  • Education License – allows the holder to carry out educational and social services, educational aid training, and educational consultancy services.



DWC Free Zone offers attractive service packages for startup companies. Here are the top two packages:

2-visa package – AED 29,900 (US$ 8,200)

3-visa package – AED 39,900 (US$ 10,900)

The above packages include service license and registration fees, and annual smart-desk/office fees.

The DWC also offers permanent smart desk and smart office packages as below:

2-visa permanent smart desk package – AED 44,900 (US$ 12,300)

3-visa permanent smart office package – AED 85,000 (US$ 23,160)


The following license fees are applicable, per annum:

General Trading License – AED 20,000 (US$ 5,450)

Consultancy/Service License – AED 10,000 (US$ 2,725)

Trading/Commercial License – AED 20,000 (US$ 2,725)

You can also take offices in the DWC Business Park. The company would be eligible for 1 visa for every 8 square metres of office space.

Fitted Offices (40-100 sq.mts)

Annual rent – AED 1,400 (US$ 382) per

Service charges – AED 300 (US$ 82) per sq. mt.

Security Deposit – 10% of the annual rent

Fitted Offices (120 sq.mts and above)

Annual rent – AED 1,100 (US$ 300) per

Service charges – AED 175 (US$ 48) per sq. mt.

Security Deposit – 5% of the annual rent

Shell-and-Core Offices (120 sq.mts and above)

Annual rent – AED 600 (US$ 164) per

Service charges – AED 175 (US$ 48) per sq. mt.

Security Deposit – 5% of the annual rent


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 2,730 (US$ 744)

Employment Visa – applicant inside the country, no status change – AED 3,850 (US$ 1,050)

Employment Visa – applicant inside the country, with status change – AED 4,674 (US$ 1,275)

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

Beyond that, however, the specifics of setting up depends mostly on the type of license you are applying for, and the kind of business you want to run. That’s why it is highly advisable you approach a company formation expert who will help you navigate through the UAE laws and through every part of the application, ultimately ensuring that the entire process will take no more than a few hours of your time.

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