How to Set up a Holding Company in Dubai? #2023 update 

If you are looking to Set up a holding company in Dubai, it can be a complex process. But with the right guidance, it can be done efficiently and effectively. The lesser the liabilities, the safer the business! Accounts payable, interest payable, income taxes payable, bills payable, short-term business loans, accrued expenses, bank account overdrafts and so much more, doing business, whether in Dubai or anywhere else in the world, means tons of liabilities on your head. But is there a way to do business without being responsible for so many liabilities or losses? Yes, there is! It’s none other than holding a Holding Company License in Dubai, UAE. With a Holding Company License, you can own and control other assets, such as real estate, stocks, or companies. 

Understand the Concept 

A Holding Company License is a financial vehicle that enables a company to hold shares in other companies without being involved in their day-to-day operations. It is a type of parent company that owns shares in other companies but does not manage them directly. This can be useful for companies looking to diversify their business holdings or for investors looking to manage a portfolio of companies. Not just shares of stock in other corporations, but a Holding company can also own private equity funds, hedge funds, public stocks, bonds, real estate, song rights, brand names, patents, trademarks, copyrights—virtually anything that has value. Some well-known examples of holding companies in the UAE are Al Futtaim Private Ltd., Sharaf Group, Goldfield Enterprises Ltd, Broxiom Group and Al Shaali Industries LLC, amongst others. 

It is a safe bet as a holding company in Dubai is a separate legal entity that owns the assets of other companies, called subsidiaries. This separation provides a layer of protection for the assets and owners of the holding company, as the liabilities of the subsidiaries are distinct from those of the holding company. This can lower the risk of financial loss for the owners of the holding company in the event of financial trouble for one of the subsidiaries. In Dubai, a Holding Company License is granted by the Department of Economic Development. 

u003cstrongu003eWhy Dubai is the Ideal Place to Invest for African investorsu003c/strongu003e 

There are several reasons why u003cstrongu003eAfrican investors u003c/strongu003emay choose to do business in Dubai. One reason is the city’s strategic location as a hub for trade between Africa and the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Dubai also has a relatively low tax rate and a business-friendly environment, which can be attractive to investors. Additionally, Dubai has a diverse and well-educated workforce, as well as a range of infrastructure and facilities that support business operations. Furthermore, Dubai has a good reputation as a safe and stable destination for investment and u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eyou can completely own your businessu003c/au003e, irrespective of the jurisdiction chosen, without involving any local sponsor. 


Why you should open a holding company in Dubai?

u003cstrongu003eBenefits of Opening a Holding Company in Dubaiu003c/strongu003e

It’s easy to see why a host of wealthy investors from Africa and u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eRussiau003c/au003e are flocking to Dubai for establishing their presence in the UAE with a holding company formation. Not just do they make the most of the business-friendly policies and liberal tax regime that the city offers but also the robust economy and state-of-the-art amenities. Not to mention stable government, e-governance, a robust network of banks, a thriving business ecosystem, the availability of free zones, high-quality life and a safe environment to set up a business and grow. Besides these perks that are available for almost every business structure, with a u003cstrongu003eholding company in Dubaiu003c/strongu003e, UAE, you can enjoy a host of advantages including: 

u003cstrongu003eTax benefits:u003c/strongu003e

With the implementation of 5% u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eVATu003c/au003e and 9% u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ecorporate taxu003c/au003e, the UAE is anything but tax-free. However, still, the best thing about the country’s tax regime is the taxes are relatively low. And this simply means running a holding company in Dubai is cost-effective.

u003cstrongu003eProtection from lossesu003c/strongu003e

Holding vehicles can help significantly reduce the overall risk exposure in terms of liabilities because holding entities are not liable for debts the subsidiaries may make. Simply put, if one subsidiary were to declare bankruptcy, it would not impact the others

u003cstrongu003eAccess to UAE banking system:u003c/strongu003e

Entrepreneurs holding a holding company license in Dubai can start a corporate account with any of the UAE banks and apply for loans to further invest in assets.

u003cstrongu003eQuick, easy and affordable setup of business:u003c/strongu003e

Holding companies are also relatively easy to form. Plus, a Holding company license allows you to start a business with zero paid-up share capital. Not just that, the licenses required are likely to be cheaper than other choices.

u003cstrongu003eEasy to change:u003c/strongu003e

Not just Holding companies are easy to establish but also to change allowing the owner to take advantage of geographical differences in taxation regimes. This simply means if a particular jurisdiction has high business taxes, the Holding company can simply be shifted to another jurisdiction with lower taxes while continuing operations in the original location. 

u003cstrongu003ePrivacy can be maintained:u003c/strongu003e

u003cbru003eHolding company in Dubai gives better privacy than other legal forms as there is no obligation to disclose who owns them.

u003cstrongu003eStrategic location:u003c/strongu003e

Dubai is a major business hub in the Middle East, and it is well-connected to other major markets in Asia, u003cstrongu003eAfricau003c/strongu003e, and Europe. This makes it an ideal location for companies looking to expand their operations in the region.

u003cstrongu003eStrong infrastructure:u003c/strongu003e

Dubai has a well-developed infrastructure, including modern transportation systems, port facilities, and telecommunications networks. This makes it easy to conduct business in the city. 

u003cstrongu003eGovernment support:u003c/strongu003e

The Dubai government is actively promoting foreign investment in the emirate, and it offers a range of incentives and support to help companies establish and grow their operations. 

u003cstrongu003eMulticultural workforceu003c/strongu003e

Dubai has a diverse and highly skilled workforce, making it easy to find the right talent to support your business operations. 


Holding entities can enjoy streamlined investment arrangements with a degree of flexibility. 

u003cstrongu003eFreedom to conduct activities:u003c/strongu003e

A UAE-based holding company is allowed to own and manage shares of other companies in any business sector. Such companies can also possess both physical and intellectual assets of the subsidiaries under their management and ownership. 

u003cstrongu003eSolid legal system:u003c/strongu003e

Dubai has a transparent and well-established legal system, which is based on the principles of common law. This makes it easy to navigate the legal requirements of setting up and operating a business in the city. 


u003cstrongu003eDisadvantages of Opening a Holding Company in Dubaiu003c/strongu003e 

There are a couple of downsides to owning subsidiaries through a holding company. Here are they: u003cbru003e

  • A Holding company can give investors and creditors hard time figuring out an exact picture of the overall financial health of the holding company
  •  u003cbru003e

  • With a Holding company formation, comes the possibility for unethical directors to hide their losses by moving debt among their subsidiaries. 
  • u003cbru003e

  • Holding companies can also manipulate their subsidiaries, by pushing them to appoint chosen directors or forcing the subsidiaries to purchase products from one another at higher-than-market prices. They may also compel subsidiaries to peddle products to one another at below-market prices.
  •  u003cbru003e

  • Parent companies can also compel their subsidiaries to appoint chosen directors or alter their policies. 


Types of Holding Companies in Dubai, UAE 

There are several types of holding companies in Dubai, including: 

  • Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC): This type of holding company is listed on the Dubai Financial Market or the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and has a minimum capital requirement of AED 10 million. 
  • Private Joint Stock Company (PJSC): This type of holding company is not listed on any exchange and has a minimum capital requirement of AED 2 million. 
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): This type of holding company is popular among small and medium-sized businesses and has a minimum capital requirement of AED 300,000. 
  • Free Zone Company: This type of holding company is registered in one of Dubai’s free trade zones and is exempt from certain taxes and regulations. 
  • Offshore Company: This type of holding company is registered in a jurisdiction outside of the UAE, typically for the purpose of holding assets or conducting international business. 

The Process of Holding Company Formation in Dubai 

A Holding company is typically created by incorporating a new business entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), and then using that entity to own the stock or membership interests of one or more other companies. To form a Holding company in Dubai, you simply need to file the articles of incorporation in the jurisdiction, whether mainland or free zone, where you want to register the company. You will also be required to recognise the business agents managing the holding and operating companies. This can be complex, so for companies with larger holdings, it is worth engaging a lawyer or a reputed business setup consultant in Dubai such as Adam Global. The process for incorporating a new Holding entity will vary depending on the jurisdiction chosen, but generally, it will involve the following steps: 

  • Choose a business name and conduct a name search to ensure that the name is available for use in the jurisdiction where the holding company will be incorporated. 
  • File articles of incorporation (or similar organizational documents) with the appropriate state agency, such as the Secretary of State. 
  • Obtain any necessary licenses and permits for the holding company to operate. 
  • Create bylaws for the holding company and hold an organizational meeting of the incorporators or initial members. 
  • Issue shares of stock (for a corporation) or membership interests (for an LLC) and elect a board of directors or managers. 
  • Once the holding company is formed, it can then acquire the stock or membership interests of other companies and become its parent company. 

It is important to note that the actual requirements, benefits and regulations may vary depending on the company’s business activity and the free zone it is established in. 

To Be Precise 

A Holding company is a kind of business entity that has a single objective — holding other companies. Some holding companies are large conglomerates, with arms in various distinct sectors; others only exist to manage a single subsidiary. Holding companies can help shield their owners from losses, or they can also be used to lessen tax obligations.  

Get in touch with any of our business setup advisors in Dubai with your requirements. We are happy to assist you in obtaining your holding company license in Dubai from stem to stern. Click here for a free consultation with our Holding company setup experts in Dubai. 

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