Meydan Free Zone offers SMEs competitive benefits and incentives under a digital-first vision

Meydan Free Zone offers SMEs competitive benefits and incentives under a digital-first vision 

Business owners looking to set up in Meydan Free Zone can expect a paperless, fully digital integration process.

As a central business hub in the MENA region, the UAE has set up many free zones over the years to attract new companies on the local, regional, and international levels.

Among these is the Meydan Free Zone (MFZ).

The visionary concept of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, this award-winning free zone is located in the heart of Dubai and centred around the Meydan Racecourse, while also consisting of residential areas, a hotel, golf and tennis clubs, restaurants, and more.

As the UAE’s first fully digital free zone, MFZ enables businesses to set up, expand and prosper seamlessly via state-of-the-art facilities and end-to-end expert assistance, across over 3,500+ business activities. Today, a majority of its licensees operate within the sectors of e-commerce, general trading, construction and real estate, technology, management, and consultancy services, automotive, cleaning and security services, travel and tourism, health and hospitality, logistics, marketing and advertising and media. 

This is according to Hamed Ahli, Head of Meydan Free Zone, who told the Abu Dhabi SME Hub: “Technology is a key enabler and part of many advancements and expansions in the Meydan Free Zone. Everything from applying for a trade licence to setting up your business and beyond is done digitally with us. Our unique platform has won prestigious awards, making us the first ever 100%-digital free zone in the UAE.”

Hamed Ahli Head of Meydan Free Zone

Hamed Ahli, Head of Meydan Free Zone

Setting up in Meydan Free Zone

Business owners looking to set up in Meydan Free Zone can expect a paperless, fully digital integration process. This means that they can log in to the free zone portal from anywhere in the world and access MFZ’s services, select their requirements, and pay online.

The free zone offers world-class infrastructure, a tax-free environment, and an easy licence setup with two-year Dubai residency visas.

Ahli explained: “The free zone is designed to empower any company operating here and give them all the tools they need to be successful. We offer a comprehensive range of options for incorporation that include a three-component model, which uses Logistics, Regulatory, and Financial providers to enhance the business setup.

“We enable entrepreneurs to develop their businesses from square one. With our custom-built cost calculator, anyone can quickly and conveniently estimate the cost of setting up a business at Meydan Free Zone. Additionally, our all-new Name Check facility enables entrepreneurs to check their business names for free before they begin applying for a licence.” 

Meydan Free Zone licence benefits include:

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • Capital repatriation without restrictions
  • 100% exclusion on corporate and personal tax
  • Full repatriation benefits on profits and financial assets
  • Easy bank account setup
  • 3,500+ business licence activities

“We know every business is unique, so we give you the freedom to design your licence to fit your business needs and pay only for what you need,” Ahli highlighted. 

“Meydan Free Zone is the only authority in UAE that offers a pay-as-you-go business model for an LLC licence. We have packages, from simple licensing options at AED 12,500 and then building your business up to those inclusive of the cost of visas, a shared desk or a coworking space, business amenities, utilities, and more. In addition, we offer 15% discounts on multi-year licence setup packages for those interested in long-term planning for their business.”

MFZ has partnered with major digital banks in the UAE, including Wio, Commercial Bank of Dubai, and Bank of Baroda, to enable licensees to open a bank account quickly, even with zero balance. You can learn more about the entity’s corporate and business banking solution, Meydan Pay, here

Meydan Commerce, the free zone’s marketplace solution, helps entrepreneurs start their ventures and allows them to sell online on major local and international sites like Amazon, noon, Walmart, Instagram, and Snapchat. You can learn more about it here.

MFZ also facilitates smooth import/export activities for its customers via its partnerships with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dubai ports and last-mile partners like DHL.  

Meydan Free Zone

Helping entrepreneurs navigate the business landscape

Be it setting up a new business or running and expanding an existing one, entrepreneurs have their work cut out for them. However, in its drive to grow the SME sector, the UAE has simplified many regulations and introduced multiple new frameworks and entities to help make their life easier. 

As one of these supporting entities, Meydan Free Zone helps SMEs and startups navigate many of the common challenges that hinder them. Ahli highlighted some of these issues:

  • Obtaining a business licence: Getting started is the biggest step for any aspiring entrepreneur, and hence MFZ has simplified the process of obtaining a new business licence, and helps in getting approval from third parties via its ecosystem partnerships.
  • Logistical and legal challenges: Despite the reduced red tape, some logistical and legal challenges, like import restrictions, remain in the UAE. MFZ helps with this friction by partnering with logistic providers, including warehouses, top marketplaces, and payment gateways to simplify the day-to-day for its customers.
  • Establishing a corporate bank account: It can be time-consuming to establish a corporate bank account in the UAE, due to the country’s wariness against financial misconduct. MFZ has partnered with the UAE's most trusted banks, exchange houses, and financial services providers to make this process easier and faster, offered via its services Meydan Pay and Meydan Plus.
  • Compliance risks: Companies need to stay up to date on UAE laws and social security regulations. Via its blog posts and personalised email updates, Meydan Free Zone ensures licensees are always aware of current, new and amended regulations so that they file their ESR and other compliance on time. 
  • Taxes: In recent years, the UAE has introduced new taxes to bolster the financial health of the economy. Companies need to pay the right taxes on time, lest they face penalties. MFZ organises free professional tax consultations so businesses can speak directly to its partnered experts and learn how to pay their taxes efficiently. 

Licence owners can also upgrade their knowledge and skillset, in addition to their team’s, by signing up for Meydan Academy, a one-stop educational platform for digital learning that offers over 200 training modules.

Post-COVID-19 and future outlook

Being business havens, the impact of the pandemic has been different on free zones and their registered companies compared to mainland companies.

“There has been only a relatively minor slowdown in business in free zones, which have seen phenomenal progress since then,” Ahli noted. “During and after the pandemic, Meydan Free Zone has worked diligently to ensure business continuity and restore normal operations. While challenges remained, we recognised new opportunities as economies worked toward regional collaboration and integration alongside policy reforms and technology advancements.

He explained that the free zone positioned itself as future-ready during the pandemic by digitally integrating people, products and processes. The free zone team also prioritised sustainable recovery based on greater transparency in its ecosystem, employee engagement, and commitment to corporate governance. 

“Even though COVID-19 affected economic sentiment, Meydan Free Zone took decisive measures to counter the impact by focusing on digitalisation, awareness campaigns and expanding online visibility, besides revising its value propositions and long-term strategies,” Ahli continued. “As a result, our businesses have become more self-sufficient, making us more capable of handling any future crises.”

Moving forward, the Meydan Free Zone will continue its focus on being a one-stop digital platform that provides end-to-end business solutions.

“We follow the Dubai model, which relies on a flywheel strategy, integrating logistics, regulatory, and financial infrastructures. Thus, an entrepreneur does not need to stress about anything when setting up; all growth keys are provided, and everything is taken care of.  

“Our DNA is rooted in partnerships. We look forward to enhancing Dubai's business setup ecosystem through more partnerships with regulatory bodies, financial providers, and logistical partners.”

You can learn more about the Meydan Free Zone here.

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