Software Company Incorporation in Dubai

All You Want to Know About Setting Up a Software Company in Dubai

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Dubai has emerged as a leading global technology hub thanks to world-class infrastructure, business-friendly policies and access to skilled talent. This makes it an ideal location for aspiring software entrepreneurs to establish successful ventures serving local and international markets.

Whether you want to set up services, product development or SaaS software company in Dubai, follow this start-to-finish guide:

Step 1: Decide Your Business Activity Scope

First, determine the exact focus areas and offerings of your planned software venture by answering these key questions:

What will you build?

  • Will you develop your own proprietary tools, platforms and software products?
  • Or resell licensed software from third party developers?
  • Will you offer supporting services like custom programming, integration, training?

Who will you serve?

  • Who are your target customer segments – retail consumers, businesses, government agencies?
  • What industries will you cater to? Banking, healthcare, education?
  • What geographic markets do you want to serve – only UAE or wider GCC/MENA region, global?


  • A fintech startup creating a mobile wallet app for MENA region consumers requires very different licensing compared to an enterprise AI consultancy developing data solutions for global financial institutions.

Absolute clarity of vision on business scope and offerings is vital to determine and pick the right setup pathway. All subsequent choices on company location, legal structure, compliance needs will depend on your activity areas and target markets.

Step 2: Choose the Right Company Structure

Your activity scope, growth plans and target markets determine whether you should opt for:

Mainland Company

Free Zone Company

  • Set up in a Dubai free zone – DIFC, DMCC, DWC, DSO etc.
  • Gives access only to free zone, not whole UAE
  • Permits 100% overseas ownership
  • Suitable for export-oriented services

DTEC Company

  • Set up in Dubai Techno Park (DTP) free zone
  • Allows 100% foreign ownership
  • Also gives access to mainland Dubai markets beyond DTP
  • Created specially for technology companies

As you evaluate options, consultants like us can recommend the optimal business structure tailored specifically for your software company based on your priorities whether it is ownership control, geographic expansion or talent recruitment flexibility.

Step 3: Complete Registration Formalities

Once you finalize the company type, fulfil these key legal steps for completion of formal business registration:

  • Identify office location in suitable zone
  • Obtain relevant trade license to conduct the activity
  • Apply for appropriate employment visas according to staffing need
  • Open an official business bank account
  • Arrange IT infrastructure – servers, software, tools
  • Fulfil applicable local/international licensing criteria

Completing these allows you to begin operating legally within Dubai.

Step 4: Comply With Key Regulations

Being fully legally compliant is extremely vital for any Dubai-based software entrepreneur:

Corporate Tax


  • 5% Value Added Tax on services billed to UAE-based customers
  • Compulsory for turnover above AED 375K
  • Requires robust accounting to track VAT dues

Data Protection and Privacy

  • Appoint internal privacy/security officer role
  • Implement policies and processes to manage data risks
  • Meet best practice global standards

Local Hiring

  • Mainland companies have set hiring quotas for UAE citizens
  • Free zones and DTEC exempt from these rules

Seeking specialist guidance can help software firms remain legally compliant always as policies and rules evolve – avoiding penalties.


In summary, Dubai offers a thriving ecosystem for software entrepreneurs to build innovative products and services – serving both local and global digital transformation needs.

By first determining strategic business scope, then selecting an optimal company structure, diligently completing licensing formalities and sustaining compliance – software founders can maximize their chances of success from Dubai. Expert assistance can prove invaluable to navigate regulations.

With the right vision and plan, Dubai offers a launchpad for software companies to achieve exponential growth and regional leadership over the coming decade.


What IT infrastructure is needed to set up a software services firm in Dubai?

Start with essentials like high spec developer machines, server storage space as per data volumes, software licenses, prototyping tools and high-speed internet connectivity. Cloud services help minimize initial capital outlay.

What are the benefits of DTEC company over mainland and other free zones?

DTEC allows 100% overseas ownership like other Dubai freezones. Additionally, it permits access to mainland Dubai talent and customer markets beyond the freezone. Domestic expansion flexibility coupled with foreign control makes it attractive.

What compliance risks do software companies face in Dubai?

Incorrect corporate tax and VAT treatment for revenue streams can result in penalties. Non-compliance with data protection laws around customer information handling brings major reputation risks in addition to financial fines.

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Pranav Modi

Mr. Pranav Modi, CA is supported by 12+ years of Consulting, Auditing and Accounting practice across diverse sectors.

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