An Introduction to UAE Free Trade Zones

A longtime international legal consultant with considerable experience in Europe and the Middle East, Dr. Shahram Shirkhani presently works as a founding partner with the International Law Firm of Shirkhani & Alavi in Tehran, Iran. Throughout his career, Dr. Shahram Shirkhani has advised numerous clients in the United Arab Emirates, one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East. The UAE owes much of its success to the establishment of free trade zones, which attract foreign direct investment from countries across the world.

Often referred to as duty-free zones or free economic zones, free trade zones offer a wealth of economic benefits for investors. Unlike other regions in the UAE, free trade zones allow 100 percent foreign ownership of enterprises. They also exempt businesses from import and export taxes. In addition to permitting repatriation of all capital and profits, free trade zones do not levy taxes on personal income and allow corporate tax exemptions for as long as 50 years. Furthermore, government officials in free trade zones assist businesses with a wide range of support services, including labor recruitment, housing, and sponsorship.