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  1. Business Climate
  2. Business Methods
  3. Chambers of Commerce
  4. Setting up Business
  5. Free Trade Zones
  6. Banking & Finance
  7. Exhibition Centres
  8. Business Groups in the UAE
  9. Useful Links


The UAE economy is booming and the opportunities to do business in the country are limitless. The UAE’s currency, the dirham, is secure and freely convertible; there are no restrictions on profit transfer or capital repatriation; import duties are low (around 5 per cent for virtually all goods) and, in the case of items imported for use in the free zones, non-existent; labour costs are competitive; corporate tax and personal taxes are nil and 44 double taxation agreements and 32 bilateral investment treaties are in place. In addition, the financial risk is minimal (Moody’s credit rating Aa3). These factors, combined with a strategic, accessible location for major regional markets, an excellent reliable infrastructure and an extremely pleasant, stable and safe working environment bode well for investment.

Not surprisingly therefore, the UAE ranks high in the list of the Middle Eastern and GCC countries deemed to be the most attractive to direct foreign investments (FDI), securing 60 per cent of FDI flows to the region during 2006.

But the country is not resting on its laurels and every effort is being made to foster an enabling regulatory environment. For example, amendments to the company law are currently being made in order to streamline procedures; the federal commercial Law that requires a 51 per cent local partner for businesses located outside of free zones is under review; the Ministry of Economy is in the final stages of drafting competition law that should provide further assistance in combating cartels; and the Government is working on introducing a foreign investment law that will further increase private sector competition and therefore lower inflation. Indeed, several steps have already been taken to deal with inflation: a consumer protection law was recently passed and several rent ceiling initiatives were issued at the emirates level to deal with rent increases.

Finally, the UAE is a contracting party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) since 1994 and a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) since 1996. It is also a member of the Greater Arab Free-Trade Area (GAFTA) in which all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states participate. The UAE is in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with the US and has embarked on negotiations, either individually or with the GCC, on several regional trade agreements.

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  1. General
  2. Language
  3. Business Hours
  4. Women and Business
  5. Clothing

The UAE is a highly cosmopolitan well-educated society familiar with the methods and means of doing business worldwide. However, there are a few points that people new to the Arabian business environment should keep in mind.

Here, more than anywhere else, business is conducted on the basis of personal relationships and mutual trust. It is vitally important to build on these.

Good manners and courtesy are prized attributes. Nevertheless, although you should always arrive on time for a meeting, punctuality is not considered a virtue and you may be kept waiting. Take the time to chat and drink the coffee, tea or soft drink that is always on offer and establish the relationships that will stand you in good stead. Do not be put off if your meeting is interrupted by other guests or telephone conversations.

Hospitality is a way of life in the Arab world and business is frequently conducted over lunch or dinner – more than likely in a hotel or restaurant. It is also considered polite to return the invitation.

Although Arabic is the official language, English is widely used in business transactions.

The official weekend is on Friday and Saturday. Some smaller private companies only close on Friday.
Government offices open at 7.30 a.m. and close at 3.00 p.m. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, many coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break, whilst others are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
During Ramadan most work is accomplished in the early hours of the morning or much later in the evening after the day’s fast is broken (at sunset).

Professional women are commonplace in the UAE and are generally treated seriously. Patience and good humour will carry you through most situations.

Smart slacks, shirt (ideally long-sleeved) and tie are sufficient for most meetings, Nevertheless, bring a lightweight suit or blazer/jacket. Women should dress conservatively. All buildings are air-conditioned, so much of the year it is quite comfortable to wear a jacket indoors.

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Chambers of Commerce in each emirate are invaluable sources of information and assistance for anyone intending to do business in the country: they keep investment databases, issue and authenticate licences and other documentation, arbitrate on disputes and provide business facilities such as meeting and conference rooms and simultaneous interpretation.

Contact the Federation of United Arab Emirates Chambers of Commerce and Industry (

Abu Dhabi Office
POB: 3014
Tel: 02 6214144; Fax: 02 6339210
E-mail: Abu Dhabi Office: [email protected] 

Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce
POB: 662
Tel: 02 6214000; Fax: 02 6215867
Email: [email protected]

Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry
POB: 580 Sharjah
Tel: 06 5682888; Fax: 06 5681119
E-mail: [email protected]

Umm al-Qaiwain Chamber of Commerce & Industry
436 Umm al-Qaiwain
Tel: 06 7651111; Fax: 06 7657055

Fujairah Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture
POB: 738, Fujairah
Tel: 09 2222400
Fax: 09 2221464
Email: [email protected]

Dubai Office
POB: 8886
Tel: 04 2212977
Fax: 04 2235498

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
POB: 1457 Dubai
Tel: 04 2280000/ 2224651; Fax: 04 2211646
Email: [email protected]

Ajman Chamber of Commerce & Industry
POB: 662 Ajman
Tel: 06 7422177; Fax: 06 7427591
E-mail: [email protected]

Ra’s al-Khaimah Chamber of Commerce & Industry
POB: 87 Ra’s al-Khaimah
Tel: 07 2333511; Fax: 07 2330233
Email: [email protected]

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All businesses, whether industrial, professional, trading or services, must be licensed to operate in the UAE. Licensing procedures vary from emirate to emirate and the relevant details are available from the individual Chambers of Commerce.
The Commercial Companies Law and the Trade Agencies Law constitute the primary federal legislative framework controlling commercial activities in the UAE. These instruments can be downloaded from

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Establishing a business entity in one of the UAE’s Free Trade Zones (FTZs) can be an extremely attractive option for foreign investors. The major advantages in setting up in a free zone are:

  • 100 per cent foreign ownership of the enterprise
  • 100 per cent import and export tax exemptions
  • 100 per cent repatriation of capital and profits
  • No corporate taxes for 15 years, renewable for an additional 15 years
  • No personal income taxes
  • Assistance with labour recruitment, and additional support services, such as sponsorship and housing.
  • An independent Free Zone Authority (FZA) governs each free zone, and is the agency responsible for issuing FTZ operating licences and assisting companies with establishing their business in the FTZ.
  • Investors can either register a new company in the form of a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) or simply establish a branch or representative office of their existing or parent company based within the UAE or abroad. An FZE is a limited liability company governed by the rules and regulations of the Free Zone in which it is established. Except for acquiring nationality in the UAE, the provisions of the CCL do not apply to FZEs, provided that the Free Zones have special provisions regulating such companies.

Abu Dhabi
Industrial City of Abu Dhabi HCSEZ:

Dubai Aid and Humanitarian City:
Dubai Airport Free Zone:
Dubai Biotechnology & Research Park:
Dubai Flower Centre:
Dubai Gold and Diamond Park:
Dubai Healthcare City:
Dubai International Financial Centre:
Dubai Internet City:
Dubai Knowledge Village:
Dubai Logistics City:
Dubai Maritime City:
Dubai Media City:
Dubai Multi Commodity Centre:
Dubai Outsource Zone:
Dubai Silicon Oasis:
Dubai Studio City:
International Media Production Zone:
Jebel Ali Free Zone:
Techno Park:
Dubai Auto Zone:

The following free zones are also planned for Dubai:

Dubai Academic City (Dubai Holdings)
Dubai Auto Parts City
Dubai Building Materials Zone
Dubai Carpet Free Zone
Dubai Cars & Automotive Zone
Dubai Design Centre (TCO)
Dubai Energy City (Dubai Holdings)
Dubai Textile City
Heavy Equipment & Trucks Zone
Techno Park

Dubai Gold & Diamond Park
Dubai Gold & Diamond Park
Dubai International Financial Centre
Dubai International Financial Centre
Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange
Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange

Sharjah Airport International Free Zone:
Hamriyah Free Zone:

Ajman Free Zone:

Umm al-Qaiwain
Ahmed bin Rashid Free Zone

Ra’s al-Khaimah
RAK Free Zone:

Fujairah Free Zone

Click on the following useful link for further information:

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  1. Central Bank
  2. Stock Markets
  3. Local Banks
  4. Foreign Banks
  5. Representative Offices


The UAE Central Bank is the primary financial regulatory authority for the Federation. It is mandated to ‘direct monetary, credit and banking policy and supervise over its implementation in accordance with the state's general policy and in such ways as to help support the national economy and stability of the currency’.


Abu Dhabi Securities Market:
Dubai Financial Market:



  • ABN-Amro Bank N.V.
  • Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait K.S.C
  • Arab African International Bank
  • Arab Bank plc.
  • Bank Melli Iran
  • Bank of Baroda
  • Bank Saderat Iran
  • Banque Banorabe
  • Banque du Caire
  • Banque Libanaise Pour Le Commerce
  • Barclays Bank plc.
  • BLC (France) S.A.
  • BNP Paribas
  • Citibank N.A.
  • Credit Agricole Indosuez
  • El Nilein Bank
  • Habib Bank A.G. Zurich
  • Habib Bank Limited
  • HSBC Bank Middle East
  • Janata Bank
  • Lloyds TSB Bank plc.
  • National Bank of Bahrain
  • National Bank of Oman S.A.O.G.
  • Rafidain Bank
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank
  • United Bank Limited


  • A.G. Assets Management Int’l
  • Abbey National Plc
  • Aberdeen Asset Managers Ltd.
  • American Express Bank Ltd.
  • Arab Banking Corporation
  • Bank Brussels Lambert
  • Bank Gesellschaft Berlin AG
  • Bank Muscat (S.A.O.G)
  • Bank of America - National Association
  • Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (B.S.C)
  • Bank of Beirut SAL
  • Bank of New York
  • Bank of Tokyo-Mistubishi Ltd.
  • BLC (France) S.A.
  • BNP Paribas
  • Citi Group Global Markets
  • Clearstream Banking S.A.
  • Coutts & Co.
  • Credit Lyonnais
  • Credit Suisse
  • Creditanstait A.G.
  • Deutsche Bank A.G.
  • Dresdner Bank A.G.
  • Fidelity Investments International
  • First Union National Bank
  • Gulf International Bank
  • HDFC Bank Ltd.
  • HSBC Bank International Ltd.
  • ICICI Bank Ltd.
  • Indusin Bank Ltd.
  • Investment Bank for Trade & Finance
  • Korea Exchange Bank
  • Kotak Mahindra International Ltd.
  • Kuwait Interests for Financial Investments (KSC)
  • Man Investment Products Ltd.
  • Merrill Lynch Bank (Suisse) S.A.
  • Natexis Banque – BFCE
  • Nationwide International Ltd.
  • Philippine National Bank
  • Prudential-Bache International Ltd.
  • Qatar Islamic Bank
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Salmon Smith Barney Inc
  • Scottish Widows Int’l Ltd.
  • Societe Generale Bank
  • Standard Bank London Ltd.
  • State Street Bank & Trust Company
  • Tempelton Worldwide Inc.
  • The Equitable Life Assurance Society
  • The Housing Bank for Trade & Finance
  • Towry Law Asia HK Ltd.
  • UBS A.G.
  • Union Bancaire Privee (CBI-TDB)
  • Union des Banques Arabes et Francaises (UBAF)
  • Unit Trust of India
  • United Bank of Kuwait
  • Wachovia Bank National Association
  • West LB A.G.
  • Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale

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Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre
  1. Abu Dhabi
  2. Dubai
  3. Sharjah
  4. Ajman
  5. Ra’s al-Khaimah
  6. Fujairah

The UAE is the destination of choice for international business meetings, incentive travel, conventions, trade fairs, events and exhibitions. So much so that this area of activity is now a major component of the country’s business and tourism expansion plans. With its huge purpose-built exhibition halls and luxury hotels boasting state-of-the-art conference facilities, the UAE provides a unique gateway to the Middle East and Asia. The addition to the equation of a solid infrastructure, a secure environment and diverse leisure opportunities helps to explain why the country attracts major global events.

For a calendar of forthcoming exhibitions in the UAE CLICK HERE or HERE

Abu Dhabi International Exhibitions Centre (ADIEC)
: 6844
Tel: 02 491400 Fax: 02 491550
Email: [email protected]

Ajman Exhibition Centre,

Dubai World Trade Centre
: 9292
Tel: 04 3321000 Fax: 04 3064033

Ra’s al-Khaimah Exhibition Centre
POB: 2444
Email: [email protected] (general enquiry)
[email protected] (sales enquiry)

Expocentre Sharjah
POB: 3222
Tel: 06 5551888 Fax: 06 5552888
Email: [email protected]

Fujairah Exhibition Centre
POB: 1550
Tel: 09 2231212; Fax: 09 2231616
Email: [email protected]

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The following business groups based in the UAE offer invaluable assistance to prospective business people.

American Business Group Of Abu Dhabi 02 6313604
American Business Council 04 3407566
Australian Business in the Gulf 02 3672437
British Business Group Abu Dhabi 02 4457234
British Business Group Dubai & Northern Emirates 04 3970303
Canadian Business Council 02 3592625
Danish Business Council 02 2227699
French Business Council 02 3352362
German Business Council 02 3599930
Iranian Business Council 02 3359220
Lebanese Business Council 02 3977450
South African Business Council 02 3975222
Swedish Business Council 02 337 1410

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Etisalat Yellow Pages:

Abu Dhabi Commercial Directory:
UAE Directory: Business and Economy:

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