self-employed in the United Arab Emirates

Whether you are running your own business, working as a contractor, or freelancing; being self-employed in the United Arab Emirates has many opportunities and benefits. You will obtain lucrative deals and access funds that will take your business to the next level. But there are some requirements that you must meet.

In this article, we will ensure you understand how to be self-employed in Dubai and the UAE and why this practice is becoming more popular. Freelancing in the past was not viable due to high costs but with us and the new UAE policies; we are witnessing a mini-revolution in the way freelance work is growing. 

  1. What is the best way to become a freelancer in the UAE?
  2. What can you do to start working?
  3. How many free zones are offering freelance permits?
  4. What should you keep in mind about being self-employed in the United Arab Emirates?
  5. How can we assist you to become self-employed in the UAE?

1. What is the best way to become a freelancer in the UAE?

In 2020, the ADDED, (Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development) announced that UAE residents, as well as foreign nationals, can obtain a freelance license. According to this new law, being self-employed in the United Arab Emirates means that you can legally work and reside in the country. 

Applicants, on the other hand, can apply for residence visas for themselves and their families and are not required to take office space. However, to work as a freelancer in the United Arab Emirates you must have a work permit and a residence visa. Here is a requirement list for residents and non-residents:

1.1 For UAE residents

If you are currently residing in the UAE on your parent’s or spouse’s visa, you only require a freelance permit to start. Full-time working residents can also start freelancing if they obtain a permit.

To obtain the permit, you must have proof of your skills and valid permission from your employer if you will be freelancing as a side job.

1.2 For UAE non-residents

If you are a foreign individual, you just need to apply for a freelancer visa and a residence permit which will allow you to work and reside in the country as a self-employed individual.

2. What can you do to start working?

There are several options to choose from if you are either a resident or a non-resident considering being self-employed in the United Arab Emirates. Many free zones in the UAE are offering freelancing permits that will allow you to obtain your residence visa and sponsor your relatives. 

However, this choice depends on your industry, sector, or activity. On Connect Free Zone, we can take care of this on your behalf. Costs may vary broadly; so, it is important that you do your research before selecting a free zone that suits your individual requirements.

3. How many free zones are offering freelance permits?

As aforementioned, various free zones will allow you to become self-employed in the United Arab Emirates. Here is a list of some of them:

Costs may range between AED 7,500 and AED 20,000 (it depends on free zone policies and your requirements) and you must renew this permit yearly. Similarly, costs will depend on if you need a 1-year or a 3-year residence visa or a permit to work legally as self-employed in Dubai.

If you are already residing in the UAE, sponsored by a spouse or parent, there is no need to cancel your current visa and obtain a new one.

Here are your free zone options to get started:

3.1. Abu Dhabi

You can obtain a freelancer permit from twofour54. In the same vein, the Media Zone Authority has abandoned all license fees for the first 2 years in the media zone; this means you only need to pay for health insurance and the visa registration process.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, on the other hand, has also implemented a freelance visa option; this is another opportunity for you to become self-employed in the United Arab Emirates.

3.2. Dubai

Dubai Development Authority has launched a freelance initiative where current registration is open for 4 key sectors for freelance visas: 

  • Design in the Dubai Design District.
  • Education in Dubai Knowledge Park.
  • Technology in Dubai Internet City.
  • Media in Dubai Media City.

For application and full details, you can contact us and we will gladly give you more information. The fee for this package starts from AED 7,500 and if you need a residence visa, we will assist you through the entire process and offer you a business center if you need it.

3.3. Ras Al Khaimah

The Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) work permits start from AED 6,100 and include access to a residence visa, a vast range of support services, and business centers. For a complete list of activities and registration, you can contact us. 

3.4. Fujairah

Likewise, Fujairah Creative City provides several options for you with a starting fee of AED 5,700. For instance, we will provide you with:

  • Firstly, a Flexi desk.
  • Online support.
  • Internet access.
  • PRO services.
  • And P.O. box.

3.5. Ajman

Freelance packages in Ajman Free Zone start at 6,000 plus Emirates ID, visa, and basic health insurance. Moreover, you can apply for various activities, it also includes a visa valid for 3 years.

3.6. Umm Al Quwain

Umm Al Quwain Free Zone is mainly for individuals in the tech, film, and media sectors. By obtaining a freelance visa from us in this free trade zone; you become self-employed in the United Arab Emirates and eligible to conduct your selected profession with our complete legal support. Likewise, for more information, you can reach out to us.

If you want us to take care of this process, we specialize in freelance and corporate licensing so you can be self-employed in Dubai and the UAE. This is the best choice if you are exploring your options since we will guide you through the entire process.

In this process, there are some requirements you should not overlook. Here are some important things about freelancing in the UAE.

4. What should you keep in mind about being self-employed in the United Arab Emirates?

      4.1. Understand your options

  • The UAE offers various ways for investors and entrepreneurs to conduct business in the country such as:
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Sole Proprietorship.
  • Civil Company.
  • Foreign Company Branch.
  • Free Zone Company
  • Freelancing.

If you are planning to work self-employed in Dubai and the UAE, the easiest way is to set up as a freelancer. However, choosing to establish your business as a civil company or sole proprietorship also allows 100% foreign ownership.

In a sole proprietorship entity, you can have a single shareholder, but civil companies allow 2 or more shareholders. Further, you can also choose an industrial or commercial company; but if you are a foreign UAE national, you must have a local partner which can be a UAE corporation or national.

We offer you corporate nominee solutions where we can act as your local partner, allowing you to maintain full control of your business being self-employed in the United Arab Emirates. Likewise, it does not matter what your business structure is, it is a common practice that if you are self-employed in the UAE; you must have professional insurance to protect you.

Most importantly, when you are starting, the last thing you need is an expensive lawsuit. We invite you to read our article about a few things you should keep in mind when freelancing in the UAE.

 4.2. Make sure you obtain the right license 

Business licenses in the UAE fall into 2 main categories:

  • Mainland license: This allows you to trade outside and inside the country without restrictions. However, you must find a local partner.
  • Free zone license: This type of license offers beneficial tax incentives and full foreign ownership, but you will be able to trade only within your free zone jurisdiction.

If you are coming to the UAE from abroad, you also require a visa sponsored by the jurisdiction you are working in. In addition, you need a medical screening test and health insurance as well.

4.3. Freelancing: Consider these free zones

If you are looking to freelance in the UAE, you can choose the UAE free zones that offer a freelance visa and permit. For instance, some of these zones are:

  • Dubai Media City.
  • Dubai Knowledge Park.
  • Fujairah Creative City Free Zone. 
  • Ajman Free Zone.
  • Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone.

You can do this by submitting an application form to the government body in charge as well as other documents such as:

  • Firstly, a passport-sized photo.
  • Secondly, a passport copy.
  • Curriculum vita (CV).
  • And a No Objection Certificate from your sponsor, if it is applicable.

4.4. Have a base

There are several offices to rent in most business-friendly emirates and areas if you are self-employed in the United Arab Emirates. However, if you are freelancing, taking advantage of a co-working space may be a good choice; which you will pay on a monthly basis.

4.5. Understand how the UAE tax system works

Certainly, Free Zones around the UAE offer a lot of tax incentives including zero personal and corporate tax. In addition, being self-employed in Dubai also allows you to be exempted from export and import duties as well as currency restrictions. When it comes to profits, you can repatriate all of them.

However, the VAT introduction in the UAE means you will need to register if you earn more than AED 375,000. But if your income ranges from AED 187,000 and AED 375,000; VAT registration becomes an option. Most importantly, keep all records and receipts updated to prove this.

Find out how to register for VAT with us.

4.6. Understand the business scene in the UAE

Some of the biggest sectors in the UAE are finance, construction, industrial, IT, and oil and gas. However, the UAE also provides several opportunities for individuals wishing to work in the media, tourism, design, and fintech; with many large corporations having a base here. 

If you are arriving in the UAE, the best idea is to learn about the business culture comprehensively. Likewise, when attending trade opportunities or reaching potential clients, personal connections are crucial. You also must be prepared to discuss personal matters before doing business and have in mind exchanging gifts when first meeting new clients.

Being self-employed in the UAE will allow you to access new clients and important markets as well as new investment streams to take your business to the next level.

5. How can we assist you to become self-employed in the UAE?

Freelancing in the UAE is highly recommended for individuals wishing to work self-employed in the United Arab Emirates and do not work full time for others. Moreover, these new policies are broadening the scope for you to be your own boss. Freelancing, in the same vein, has become widely accepted around the globe.

On Connect Free Zone, the first thing we want to achieve as your partner is a smooth and simple incorporation process for your business. As such, you can easily establish yourself in any emirate. That is why we offer you incredible packages, discounts, and pricing. You can even set up remotely!

Another advantage of working with us is our sponsorship services. Further, we understand how difficult it is to relocate to a new market; especially if you are a foreign national and are on your own. With us, you will get access to all locations for your freelance business; meanwhile, we will make sure you obtain all the different jurisdiction benefits with our value-added services.

Do you want to start working with the best partner for your business to become self-employed in the United Arab Emirates? If you want us to start working side-by-side with you so you have smooth incorporation, you can call us at +971 43 316 688. Or to email us, you can send all your inquiries via

In conclusion, if you want to take your personal career to the next level and get access to millions of important job opportunities; you can go to You can apply now for a role in our agency, we will not store any resumes sent to

Connect Freezone

Connect FreezoneConnect free Zone is the go to place when it comes to company set up services, you will find standard pricing, discounts and packages for the most popular free zones across the UAE as well as the ability for Connect FZ to sponsor your company and set up on mainland Dubai.

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