The benefits of setting up a company in Dubai Silicon Oasis
Transforming a great tech idea into a successful venture is no small task. The need to keep pace with constant innovation and emerging trends coupled with the high level of competition and the requirement for substantial initial investment, causes many budding entrepreneurs to shelve their plans or worse still, give up on them altogether.
What’s often needed is a conducive environment that offers the right blend of support, resources, and opportunities to nurture and scale tech innovations. Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), a government backed free zone located in the heart of Dubai, is the perfect embodiment of this, providing tech entrepreneurs with the essential elements to turn their visions into successful businesses.
Dubai Silicon Oasis: An overview
Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) is a prominent free zone and integrated technology park in Dubai. Established in 2004, it serves as a dedicated hub for technology and innovation-driven companies.
The DSO community is known for its rich diversity, drawing in tech startups, well-established tech companies, and innovative entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe. This inclusive environment is ideal for a wide variety of tech enterprises, from software development and IT services to hardware manufacturing and cutting-edge research and development.
The tech businesses within DSO benefit from a business-friendly atmosphere and a supportive ecosystem designed to promote innovation and collaboration. This includes the provision of a wide range of commercial and residential spaces, research centers, laboratories, and other amenities to fit the needs of businesses of all sizes as well as access to funding, networking events and other knowledge-sharing initiatives.
What kind of business are present in DSO?
DSO is a thriving community that spans 7.2 million square meters and hosts more than 1,000 companies, employing over 35,000 professionals. These companies come from diverse industries and have chosen DSO as their base for various reasons, including the tax incentives, supportive ecosystem, and strategic location that opens doors to regional and global markets. Some of these include:
- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies: DSO is home to a wide variety of ICT companies, operating in areas such as software development, hardware manufacturing, telecommunications, and IT services.
- Startups: DSO has emerged as a magnet for tech startups, in large part thanks to the free zone’s DSO’s Technology Innovation Center, where over 50 startups are incubated in sectors including, artificial intelligence, and sustainable technologies.
- Venture capital and investment firms: The presence of tech startups naturally attracts venture capital firms who recognize the potential for high growth and innovation. These venture capitalists provide crucial financial backing, mentorship, and networking opportunities to startups, helping them scale their operations and bring their technologies to market.
- Research and Development (R&D) centres: Several global tech giants, such as IBM, Huawei, and Schneider Electric, have established R&D centers in DSO. These centers focus on cutting-edge technology research and development, fostering an environment of innovation and collaboration. This provides an invaluable opportunity for companies setting up in DSO to engage in knowledge-sharing, partnerships, and potentially even collaborations with these industry leaders.
- Education and training providers: DSO hosts a wide array of education and training institutions specializing in technology-related programs to support businesses and startups in the digital technology sector.
- Business incubators and accelerators: DSO provides the infrastructure and support required for tech startups to flourish. This includes business incubators and accelerators that offer mentorship and resources to help startups grow.
- Service providers: Various companies offering IT and tech-related services, such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and digital marketing, have also found their home in DSO.
What are the benefits of setting up in DSO?
There are a whole host of great reasons to set up in DSO. These include:
Tax Incentives: DSO offers tech businesses exceptional tax incentives. It allows for 100% foreign ownership, full exemption from corporate and personal income taxes for up to 15 years, and the flexibility of 100% profit and capital repatriation. DSO also grants zero import or re-export duties on equipment and materials, which significantly cuts operating costs.
Business-Friendly Environment: DSO is committed to providing a business-friendly ecosystem with minimal red tape and bureaucracy to accelerate the path from business concept to execution. This includes streamlined administrative procedures with efficient licensing and registration to enable entrepreneurs to start their businesses within a matter of days, not months.
Access to Talented Workforce: A critical factor for the success of tech companies is access to a skilled and diverse workforce. DSO’s strategic location in close proximity to major transportation networks and renowned universities and training centers ensures access to a pool of highly qualified professionals from across the globe and the possibility to explore business expansion into the wider GCC.
Infrastructure and Facilities: DSO provides a world-class infrastructure, tailor-made to cater to the specific needs of tech enterprises. Modern office spaces are equipped with cutting-edge technologies, research and development centers facilitate innovation, and specialised laboratories support tech research. Furthermore, DSO offers comprehensive data center services, providing businesses with the necessary infrastructure for their digital operations, cybersecurity, and cloud services. This unique access removes some of the capital investment burden often associated with getting a tech business off the ground.
Networking Opportunities: The free zone actively encourages networking and collaboration among businesses through various initiatives, including innovation hubs, incubators, and co-working spaces. Regular industry events, seminars, and conferences bring together like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs. These gatherings provide invaluable opportunities for knowledge exchange, partnership building, and the development of strategic alliances.
How to set up a company in Dubai Silicon Oasis
DSO offers a variety of business licences including:
- Service licence – for lawyers, accountants, consultants..etc.
- Trade licence – for import, export and distribution of items and goods
- Industrial licence – for importing raw materials and manufacturing, processing, assembling and packaging finished products
In DSO you can set up one of three company types:
- A foreign or local branch – activity to be identical to that of parent company
- A Free Zone Establishment (FZE) – single shareholder (either individual or corporate)
- A Free Zone Company (FZCO) – minimum of two shareholders (individual or corporate)
The following is an overview of the steps involved in setting up a company in DSO:
- Application submission
For this step, you’ll need to register on DSOA’s (Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority) customer portal, complete an application form and submit it alongside the following documents:
- Business plan
- Completed application form
- Shareholder/s passport copies
- Letter of intent
- NOC (UAE residents only)
- Bank statement/reference letter or audited financial report
- Pre-Approval: Once all documents have been reviewed, the activity has been verified and security checks have been carried out, initial approval will be given, and invoices will be issued.
- Submission of legal documents: This involves payment of all necessary fees and submission of the required legal documents.
- E-Agreement issuance: DSOA will then issue a lease agreement for your business premises and send a digital copy to your registered email.
- Lease agreement and share capital letter: You’ll need to sign the lease agreement and return that to DSOA along with a share capital letter if you are applying for a FZE or FZCO licence.
- Approval: Once all documents have been submitted and approved, you’ll receive an e-registration and e-licence, and you can then begin operating.
How can Global Link help?
Global Link has over 16 years’ experience working with local and global businesses, providing bespoke consultancy services for company incorporation in Dubai and the wider UAE.
We can help you register your company in Dubai Silicon Oasis, advising on the best business structure, handling all documentation and administrative requirements and liaising with DSOA and government authorities on your behalf to ensure a swift and compliant setup.
If you need advice on this or any other company incorporation, visa or PRO service, please get in touch with us on +971 4 553 9901 or email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist you.