Resident companies in UAE (outside of UAE Free Trade Zones) are compulsory in case of doing business directly on the territory of UAE and not on the territory of UAE Free Trade Zones as well as often compulsory when signing contracts with governmental bodies (as customers) in UAE.
In most cases setting up and running a business in Free Trade Zones resolves most of the issues set by a business. Even when opening a specialized business, for example, opening a university, it is possible to register such university in a specially designated Free Trade Zone, for example, Dubai Knowledge Village, where it is possible to set up a company being 100% owned by a foreigner. The same goes for opening e.g. a hospital which can be opened, for example, in Dubai Health Care City.
For companies being registered outside of Free Trade Zones there is a legislative requirement that such company cannot belong to more than 49% to a foreign citizen and 51% must belong to UAE national. However, in praxis, as was already stated above, most of the business is possible to operate from Free Trade Zones and only for some cases of business activities registration of a Dubai residential company becomes absolutely indispensable.
Further to the above it is worth mentioning that companies which are being set to provide professional services such as law firms, audit and consulting companies acting outside of UAE Free Trade Zones can belong to 100% to a foreign citizen and the requirement to have a local partner is limited to the extent of the requirement of having a local partner (Local Service Agent) who would represent the company when contacting with UAE Governmental Authorities on the matters of visas for employees and when contacting with the other UAE Governmental authorities.
In other occurrences, when incorporation of Dubai on-shore company becomes the absolutely inevitable requirement, it is possible to structure the business in such a way that it would protect the interests of the business owner to the maximum possible extent.
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