A cornerstone of Dubai's success in attracting businesses and encouraging growth across a diverse range of sectors has been the continued establishment of free zones. These special economic zones offer business-friendly environments focused around core business categories and are designed to foster growth in a multitude of areas. Most recently the Emirate has focused on design and e-commerce with the launch of the Dubai Design District and Matajircom.

Developing design

With Dubai’s design, luxury and fashion sectors poised for dramatic growth, retail spend is expected to hit AED 150 billion in 2015, April saw the launch of the Dubai Design District or d3. Established as a free zone, d3 is billed as a creative collective for local designers and global brands, a gateway for regional ideas to access the world and a conduit for international companies to discover Middle Eastern talent. Aimed at fostering design and capitalising on the potential for growth in the Emirate, d3 is strategically located close to the Dubai Mall, attracting in excess of 65 million visitors annually, and the DIFC, the Emirate's financial hub.

d3 is set to offer both free zone and non-free zone licences. Free zone licences, enabling 100% foreign ownership and a 50-year tax exemption, are being issued by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority. Non-free zone licences, requiring 51% local ownership, will be issued by the Dubai Department of Economic Development, although it is yet to confirm its licencing requirements and application process. d3 will be rolled out in phases, with construction forecast to complete in October of this year. Interested parties who have not yet secured suitable premises can reserve office space due to be released in subsequent construction phases, enabling them to apply for a licence in the free zone.

Encouraging e-commerce

Another area that has seen significant regional growth is e-commerce, with the GCC e-commerce industry expected to reach USD15 billion in 2015. Aiming to capitalise on business potential, the Emirate will shortly witness the opening of the world's first purpose-built e-commerce hub, Matajircom, with the aim of attracting, promoting and simplifying the establishment of entities carrying out e-commerce activities in Dubai. Located in TechnoPark, adjacent to the Jebel Ali Free Zone which is home to more than 7,500 companies, Matajircom will, we understand, also offer both free zone and non-free zone licensing options. 

Developed by Economic Zones World, Matajircom will provide e-commerce focused organisations looking to establish in the UAE with fast track company registration services, offices, warehousing space and links to logistics agents.  While the free zone is expected to open shortly we understand that licences to carry out e-commerce activities in Matajircom will become available at the beginning of 2016. Matajircom is also expected to issue tailored regulations to facilitate e-commerce; however, the date by which such legislation will be published is yet to be confirmed.  

How we can help

With more than 20 business-friendly free zones already operating in Dubai, and d3 and Matajircom amongst a number of free zones under establishment, Dubai continues to foster new opportunities for business growth. These developments also indicate continued confidence in local and regional markets.
With more than 50 years on the ground in the region we have seen exciting opportunities presented by these business-friendly free zones evolve and grow in Dubai and have a deep understanding of the local legal and business environments. Our team has unrivalled experience in guiding international and local clients through all aspects of establishment and operation as they access the potential for business growth that these varied opportunities represent.