The UAE is no stranger to the world's wealthy. Its strategic location, modern infrastructure and progressive FDI policies have helped it become one of the top business hubs and financial centres in the world, says Huriya Private.

In recent years it has built on this success with significant legislative and regulatory reforms that have increased its attractiveness to high-net-worth individuals (HNWI's) and made it much more accessible to those considering residency or business incorporation. 

Dubai is the most populated and probably the best-known emirate of the seven that make up the UAE. Through its consistent efforts and proactive approach to becoming an attractive business centre, coupled with the luxurious lifestyle it offers, it's booming property market and already well-established wealth, it has become a haven for the relocation or establishment of family offices and businesses and for HNWI's and investors looking to make the UAE their home. 

The following is a look at some of the key factors that are driving this trend.

Family Offices 

In response to the growth of the world wanting to do business, invest and set up family offices here in the UAE, licences were granted, and at present there are three jurisdictions in which family offices can be incorporated. Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Dubai international Financial Centre (DIFC).

These financial free zones provide a robust infrastructure and comprehensive framework with which to efficiently support family run institutions and manage their private wealth, succession and taxes. DIFC, in particular has recently launched a business and private wealth centre, the first of its kind in the region, which offers a full range of support services related to legacy and succession planning. 

Changes to the Federal Commercial Companies Law (CCL)

A closer look into recent reforms surrounding foreign company formation and the structuring options available reveals just how committed the UAE government is to supporting foreign business investment. 

There are 55 free zones across the UAE, each allowing 100% foreign business ownership. However, until recently, onshore incorporations were required to have a majority shareholding, 51%, owned by a UAE national.

This has now changed and over the last year amendments to commercial companies law now allow for the majority of business activities to have 100% foreign ownership on the mainland. This has streamlined the process of mainland business setup and given foreign investors back much more control over their business operations. 

A variety of available business structures

The UAE offers a wide range of structuring options that cater to the diverse needs of its investor profiles. From its major financial centres, DIFC and ADGM which allow holding companies, trusts, foundations and other wealth management solutions, to mainland setups such as sole proprietorships, LLCs and branch offices. 

The addition of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) and Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) under the new CCL is another way that the UAE government is catering to the needs of foreign investors and aligning itself with other internationally recognised markets.

Tax Incentives

One of the primary attractions of the UAE to foreign investors is its tax regime. The absence of income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax and the exemption from corporation tax in the country's free zones is definitely a big pull and something that is not available in many other leading global markets. Add to that the UAE's comprehensive network of double taxation treaties and you have a combination that's hard to beat.

Visa Reforms and The UAE Golden Visa

The UAE Government issues several types of visas and entry permits based on the purpose of your visits. 

However, the visa on every entrepreneur's lips right now is The UAE Golden Visa. Since its implementation in 2019, it has undergone many revisions in its categories and expansion of its eligibility criteria. This has opened it up to a much broader demographic and made long-term residency in the UAE much more accessible.

Foreign residency and investment in the UAE has undoubtedly increased through this visa. Some of the benefits of the Golden Visa is that it is a long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 10 years. It allows self-sponsorship, and holders are able to sponsor their family members, including spouses and children regardless of their age. 

These long-term visas are being granted to the likes of entrepreneurs, outstanding students and graduates, investors, and start-up owners and have created a greater sense of permanence among the expatriate population.

The UAE, a haven for the world's wealthy…

With its ultramodern architecture and infrastructure and the luxurious lifestyle, excellent healthcare, and educational facilities on offer, it really is little wonder that HNWI's, family offices, businesses, and investors choose to make the UAE their home.

Subject to your families' goals, objectives and situation, a thorough analysis of each of the family office free zones will be required to see which jurisdiction best suits your needs, but rest assured, the UAE being one of the most well-connected places in the world, with leading centres for trade and enterprise, setting up in the UAE will allow you to find all you need to live, work, and thrive.

How can Huriya Private help? 

Our team at Huriya Private have decades of professional financial services experience, advising some of the GCC's wealthiest individuals.

We can help you protect, maintain and enhance your private wealth, allowing you the freedom to travel visa free and to access and repatriate your wealth in the most tax-efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

If you need advice on setting up a family office in the UAE or any other immigration, financial or corporate structuring issue, please don't hesitate to contact us on and we will be happy to help.