Dubai has more than 20 free zones, each of which has its own licensing body. The free zones include Dubai Media City, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Airport Free zone and Jebel Ali Free zone, one of the largest ports in the world and home to 6,400 companies. Whether you decide on mainland Dubai or a free zone, all businesses and their employees are not liable to business or personal taxes. The two main differences between Dubai mainland and free zones lay in business ownership and access to export markets. Companies in Dubai mainland are required to have a local service agent or majority UAE national ownership. Mainland companies, however, benefit from hassle-free access to export markets and free trade agreements. However, it should be noted that business ownership and operational control in Dubai mainland are two separate matters. In reality UAE nationals and their overseas partners can agree between themselves how profits can be shared and how business decisions are ultimately made. This means that even if overseas business owners set up their businesses in Dubai mainland, they will still have full control on their business operations.
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