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November 27, 2020 6:52 am

The UAE Has Much to Offer Israeli Investors

avatar by Jitendra Gianchandani /


The municipality building is lit in the United Arab Emirates national flag following the announcement of a deal to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, in Tel Aviv, Israel August 13, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JNS.orgWith the signing of the historic Abraham Accords, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has opened its doors to Israeli investors, who can now avail themselves of a myriad of lucrative opportunities by setting up businesses in the Emirates.

The move coincides with the introduction of a wide range of economic reforms in the UAE, regarding which Israelis would be wise to educate themselves on before investing.

Here are a few key pieces of information for prospective investors:

The UAE has always been a lucrative prospect for foreign businessmen. However, the UAE has been reluctant to allow foreigners to hold 100% of mainland companies’ shares, especially companies with a limited liability structure (LLCs). The government has now made significant amendments to the Commercial Companies Law through Cabinet Resolution No. 16 of 2020 allowing foreigners to fully own such companies. The previous requirement to have a UAE national as a local sponsor holding 51% of the shares has been scrapped.

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The UAE’s free zones have been at the forefront of the deals inked with Israeli companies following the September 15 signing of the Abraham Accords. These zones have their own set of highly flexible regulations. They are regulated by free zone authorities and are unaffected by many aspects of UAE corporate law — a big benefit for the Israeli investors.

Free zones allow 100% ownership, total repatriation of capital, and the entire process of business setup can be completed in a matter of days. Most of the free zones in the UAE are industry-specific, providing a robust ecosystem for company formation. 

Dubai has long recognized the contributions of start-ups and SMEs (small and mid-sized enterprises) in propelling the economy to greater heights. SMEs contribute more than 90% of Dubai’s local GDP, and their growth prospects are highly promising. Free zones and government-funded organizations such as Dubai SME and Dubai Startup Hub provide immense financial backup.

Israeli start-ups may find plenty of opportunities to set up shop in Dubai as the government here has given special focus to encouraging innovation. Free zones such as Dtec, DIFC, and DMCC provide a favorable environment for setting up such businesses. Also, setting up an office space in mainland UAE has become cost-effective due to the immense popularity of co-working spaces. 

Incorporating in Dubai is a great way to lower tax liabilities. The UAE doesn’t impose income tax or corporate tax on investors. The only taxes the UAE levies are the Value Added Tax (VAT), which is a mere 5%, and the Excise Tax (applicable only for companies trading in alcohol, tobacco, or carbonated energy drinks). This lower tax burden is a serious competitive edge.

By forming a company in Dubai, Israeli entrepreneurs can gain access to the high quality of living standards the city offers. Dubai has always been hailed as one of the safest cities in the world. Israel and the UAE have also agreed upon a mutual visa-waiver program, rendering travel between the two countries much easier, and enabling investors to build more and better business relationships and enhance profitability. The Investor Visa, Golden Visa, and the newly introduced Retirement Visa also make Dubai an attractive opportunity for Israelis.

Jitendra Gianchandani is the chairman of Jitendra Business Consultants, a leading business setup service provider headquartered in Dubai.

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