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UAE / UAE – Dubai

UAE – Dubai

Geographic location and infrastructure

Dubai is a city that forms part of the United Arab Emirates. The emirate of Dubai is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country.

The UAE’s tourism, road and aviation infrastructure is among the best in the world. According to the recently-released World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (March 2013), the UAE has been the rated second best in quality of roads and third in quality of air transport infrastructure worldwide. The quality of port infrastructure and ground transport network were rated 5th and 8th, respectively, best in the world.


Dubai has the largest population in the UAE 1,771,000 (2009 est.). The population density is 408.18/km² – more than eight times that of the entire country. As of 2005, 17% of the population of the emirate was made up of Arab UAE nationals, with the rest comprising expatriates. Approximately 85% of the expatriate population (and 71% of the emirate's total population) was Asian, mainly Indian (51%) and Pakistani (16%); other significant groups include Bangladeshis (9%) and Filipinos (3%) and a sizeable community of Somalis numbering around 30,000, as well as other communities of various nationalities.


Arabic is the national and official language of the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people. English is also widely used.


The official currency in United Arab Emirates is the dirham (AED).

Tax system

There are no taxes imposed on the income of companies, except for oil and gas exploration and production companies and branches of foreign banks. Zero tax also applies for dividends and capital gains.

Branches of foreign banks are taxed at rates agreed with the ruler of the Emirate in which they operate, in Dubai at a flat rate of 20%. As noted above, oil and gas exploration and production companies are taxed at flat rates of 50%/55% (Dubai/Abu Dhabi).

Furthermore, the UAE offers several free trade zones with renewable 50-year tax holidays and exemption from import duty on goods brought into that free zone.

There is no withholding tax on dividends, interest or royalties.

Other taxes on corporations:

  • No capital duty
  • No Payroll tax
  • No Stamp Duty
  • No VAT rate applies
  • Social security tax – The UAE does not impose social security taxes on foreign workers. Employer pension contributions for national employees are 12.5% of the “contribution calculation salary”. In addition, national employee contributions are levied at 5% of the contribution calculation salary.

Double tax treaties

Until now, the UAE have signed double tax treaties with more than 65 countries and is in the process of negotiating agreements with several others.

The following countries are among those which have double-tax treaties with the UAE, although not all have been ratified at the time of writing:

  • Algeria
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Korea
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Netherlands & Netherlands Antilles
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

Legal system

Dubai has developed a robust and dynamic legal and regulatory framework over a  relatively short period of time to give international businesses and investors significant comfort when deciding to invest or conduct business in Dubai.

Dubai’s legal system is founded upon civil law principles (most heavily influenced by Egyptian law) and Islamic Shari’a law, the latter constituting the guiding principle and source of law.

Dubai has retained its own independent courts (and judges), which are not a part of the UAE Federal Judicial Authority. Dubai’s courts will first apply federal laws, such as the Companies Law or the Civil Code, as well as the laws and decrees enacted by the Ruler of Dubai, where federal law is absent or silent.


Since 1980 Dubai’s Banking and Finance Sector Regulatory Authority has been the UAE Central Bank. Most banks provide trade, project and consumer financing. 

The Central Bank Law (Federal Law No. 10 of 1980) establishes five principal categories of institutions in the UAE – commercial banks, investment banks, financial establishments, financial intermediaries, and monetary intermediaries – all of which must be licensed by both the Central Bank and the local licensing authorities. 

Legal Entities

The basic requirement for all business activity in Dubai is one of the following three categories of licence:

  • Commercial licences covering all kinds of trading activity;
  • Professional licences covering professions, services, craftsmen and artisans;
  • Industrial licences for establishing industrial or manufacturing activity.

The categories of business organisation defined by the law (Federal Law No. 8 of 1984, as amended by Federal Law No. 13 of 1988 – the "Commercial Companies Law") are:

  • General partnership company 
  • Partnership-en-commandite 
  • Joint venture company 
  • Public shareholding company 
  • Private shareholding company
  • Limited liability company
  • Share partnership company 
  • Partnerships