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Entrepreneurs and foreign investors are often keen to set up their business in the UAE. Be it a budding venture or a multinational business extension – all prefer Dubai to carry out their business activities. And why not? You get everything from superior business infrastructure, exposure for startups, legal support from the UAE Government, hassle-free business licensing, and the list goes on.

Words like “luxury” and “opulence” best define Dubai. However, there’s one word that many don’t associate with Dubai – “affordable”. Business owners and new-age investors can find cost-effective business settings in Dubai, thanks to the cheapest free zones in Dubai.

There are more than 30 affordable free zones in the UAE that cater to various business activities. You’re free to choose the one that suits your business needs. Each free zone has a unique set of laws and jurisdiction that governs your business operations. You need to understand your business requirements related to budget, location, etc., to select the cheapest free zone in the UAE.

Affordable Free Zones in the United Arab Emirates

 Free ZonesTrade License CostBusiness Zone Speciality
Cheapest Free Zone in DubaiDubai Silicon Oasis – IFZAAED 12,500State of the art IT infrastructure
Cheapest Free Zone in SharjahSharjah Media CityAED 9,000Mecca of the creative business sector
Cheapest Free Zone in Jebel AliJAFZAAED 12,000Dedicated industrial and business parks

There are many cheap free zones in Dubai, however, the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) deserves a separate mention.

Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC)

The DIFC is a premier financial business hub for various businesses like fintech, lifestyle, and more. It ranks among the top 10 onshore financial centers in the world. In addition, it’s also the cheapest free zone in Dubai for financial and fintech ventures.

The highlight of this free zone is the inclusion of a common-law framework. The region has an independent regulator, the DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority), alongside a separate law judiciary – the DIFC Courts.

When you establish your business in DIFC, you get several benefits like:

  • Finance-oriented free zone (there are only two financial free zones in Emirates)
  • 100% foreign ownership
  • A robust legal framework to carry out cross-border activities
  • No limitations on capital repatriation
  • Zero tax on employee income
  • English-speaking, common law judicial system

More than 2,000 firms currently operate in DIFC. This has developed the region into a financial ecosystem where diverse institutions interact, plan, and grow together.

You can launch your financial business in various sectors like investment banking, brokerage, fund management, financial consultant, etc.

Apart from finance, DIFC is a hotspot for lifestyle-related businesses too. Ventures such as saloons, gymnasium, coffee shops, restaurants – all enjoy prosperity and surplus in the Dubai International Financial Center.

Top 6 Cheapest free Zones in the UAE

Sharjah Media City (SHAMS) is the cheapest free zone in the UAE, with starting costs as low as AED 5,750.

Here’s a list of the cheapest free zones in the UAE apart from DIFC that you should have an eye on:

Cheapest Free Zones in the UAE

1. International Free Zone Authority (IFZA)

IFZA has grown increasingly popular becoming one of the leading company registration hubs in the UAE. Over the years, IFZA has grown into a powerful platform with an extensive global network of more than 800 partners around the world. The best part is that you can secure the cheapest license in the UAE when you choose IFZA.

Benefits of company formation in IFZA:

  • Offers an array of packages for investors to choose from
  • No requirement for the investor to submit an annual audit report.
  • Up to 3 years visa for owners and employees
  • Permission to have a virtual office.

2. Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO)

DSO is the mecca of cutting-edge technology and development in Dubai. It’s a free zone that provides employment and residential amenities for the employees. You’ll find several tech giants, telecommunication companies, etc., in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Technology is the obvious attraction in this free zone, nevertheless, you’ll find law firms, consultancy agencies, among other businesses here as well. DSO also offers the cheapest trade license in the UAE as you can secure it below AED 15,000 and get started with your business activities.

Benefits of business setup in Dubai Silicon Oasis:

  • Exemption from various taxes (import/export, income, and corporate taxes)
  • Close to Dubai International Airport, Jebel Ali Port, and Port Rashid
  • Tier 3 data center and advanced IT infrastructure

3. Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA)

It’s the oldest free zone in the Emirates and facilitates the cheapest business setup in the UAE. Furthermore, JAFZA also ranks among the largest free zones in the world. Logistics, commodity trading, and shipping companies cannot ask for a better free zone than JAFZA to run their business in the UAE.

The free zone offers six types of business licenses for you to carry out the business of your dreams. You can establish manufacturing, trading, development, and service-related business in JAFZA.

So, here are the benefits of business setup in Jebel Ali Free Zone:

  • Near the Jebel Ali Seaport and Al Maktoum International Airport
  • Zero tax and duties
  • The most powerful business community in the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region

You don’t need to look beyond the Jebel Ali Free Zone when you’re looking for the cheapest free zone license in the UAE. 

4. Dubai Media City (DMC)

If you’re looking to launch a media business, then your destination is Dubai Media City. It’s a global media hub with the best-in-class infrastructure that facilitates enterprises to operate in and out of Dubai. In addition, the DMC jurisdiction provides the cheapest business license in the UAE for media and creative business firms.

DMC is one of the cheapest and the best free zones in the UAE that has quickly transformed into a global media hub. It’s home to businesses like event management, advertising, news media, and many more.

Therefore, listed below are the benefits of business setup in Dubai Media City:

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • Exemption on custom duty (goods and services)
  • 24-hour visa service

5. Dubai Healthcare City (DHC)

DHC is the world’s first medical free zone in the world. Premier healthcare institutes, clinics, pharmaceutical education, medical equipment trading, etc., are the sectors that dominate this free zone. It is supervised by DHCA (Dubai Healthcare City Authority). You can approach the DHC’s jurisdiction and submit the required paperwork to secure the cheapest business license in Dubai in the healthcare sector.

Many luxurious 5-star hotels, villas, and residential flats are also present in the region. Thus, everyone involved in DHC aims to make it the global leader in healthcare.

Benefits of business setup in Dubai Healthcare City:

  • Complete exemption from taxes and custom duty
  • 100% foreign ownership
  • Administrative assistance from DHCA

6. Sharjah Media City (SHAMS)

Sharjah Media City, also known as SHAMS, is offering business setup packages starting just AED 5,750 is currently the cheapest free zone license in the UAE. The package includes a professional media license and one of the 13 listed activities. To add more activities, one would have to pay AED 1,000 per activity.

The media activities include:

  • Advertising
  • Digital marketing  
  • Programming and consultancy  
  • Media production  
  • Photography  
  • Web portal
  • Printing  
  • Market research  
  • Graphic design  
  • Fashion design  
  • Interior design
  • Publishing  
  • Translation services

Since this company formation package does not include any visa, the media license is best suited for new entrepreneurs, UAE residents, and existing business owners. Therefore, SHAMS facilitates the cheapest company formation in the UAE for creative businesses – both small and large.

Steps of starting your business in the cheapest free zone in the UAE

  • Choose the ideal free zone for your business.
  • Determine the type of corporate structure.
  • Select a trade name for your company.
  • Application and submission of all required documents
  • Choose an office space.
  • Open a bank account.

Setup your Free Zone Business with Shuraa

Shuraa Business Setup helps you compare and find the cheapest free zone in Dubai. Therefore, they assist you choose from the numerous jurisdictions and laws that apply to specific free zones. Our specialists can guide you through this process to ensure you don’t commit a mistake.

It’s imperative to execute your business idea in the perfect free zone setting in Dubai to enjoy maximum returns and exponential business growth.

To consult with our experienced professionals, call us on +971 44081900. Send a WhatsApp message for a chat query on +971 50 777 5554. Email us at [email protected]


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