Dubai Design District Free Zone

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About Dubai Design District (D3)

Dubai Design District (D3) caters to the creative industries, particularly design and fashion.

The free zone is suitable for businesses of all sizes and is home to local designers as well as international fashion houses.

Along with office units and land for development, Dubai Design District Free Zone also offers studio space and co-working facilities.

Prices starting from AED 70,000

Average business setup time: 1 month

Benefits of setting up a company in: Dubai Design District Free Zone

100% BUSINESS OWNERSHIP AND CAPITAL REPATRIATION

As an expatriate, you can own 100% of the company and remit all profits to your home country.

STRATEGIC LOCATION

Located in the heart of Dubai, D3 is within easy reach of Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa.

CO-WORKING

If you’re starting out/established business, D3 offers co-working & studio space for your needs.

THRIVING COMMUNITY

D3 features a number of retail outlets, a thriving restaurant scene and several event venues.

FREELANCER FRIENDLY

D3 offers specialist licences to those in the design and fashion industry.

PRESTIGIOUS COMPANY

Work alongside some of the world’s biggest names including Google, Facebook and others.

Business Activities

Dubai Design District Free Zone welcomes a range of financial and professional business activities. Here are some of the most popular options:

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Architectural Design

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Concept Design

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Direct Marketing

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Graphic Design

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Modelling Agency

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Public Relations Agency

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Tailoring

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Art Galleries

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Branding and Corporate Identity

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Fashion Design Consultancy

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Image Consultancy

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Performing Arts Management

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Stage Fashion Show

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Visual Merchandising

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Beauty Advisors

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Design Consultancy

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Fashion/Fair Exhibition

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Industrial Design

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Photography

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Studio Space

Physical Presence Requirement

You do not have to be physically present to complete the setup process of your company.

Dubai Design District: An Entrepreneur’s Guide

Dubai plans to home 15,000 design companies in the next few years. This includes 150,000 creative professionals. Dubai’s 2021 figure was 8,300 creative companies with 70,000 individuals. Double the creative power.

Design is a key player in Dubai’s economy. In 2015, the emirate forged a district focused on design, fashion, and creative media. They named it the Dubai Design District, and it is a haven for creative professionals.

In Dubai Design District (D3), you will pay no income tax for the duration of your time there. And you can enjoy 5 years of 0% corporate tax for 5 years.

But how do you set up a business in Dubai District? What documents does a new business need? And what are the main benefits if you set up a business there?

It can seem like a complicated process. But we can help. Read on for your complete guide to Dubai Design District Free Zone.

What Is the Dubai Design District Free Zone?

In 2013, UAE Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum, founded the Dubai Design District (D3). He aimed to boost foreign investment and business growth in the area. And it worked.

Dubai Design District is ideal for all creative industries. From fashion to industrial to architectural design, every aspect of the design sector is here. You have a vibrant community and vast design resources at your fingertips.

And there are huge opportunities for marketing, PR, and technology. Whatever your creative industry, you will be at home in Dubai Design District.

Where Is the Dubai Design District?

Dubai Design District is set near the centre of Downtown Dubai. You will have everything you need on your business’ doorstep.

Mohammed bin Rashid City is close by, the Burj Khalifa rises up behind, and you will be next to Dubai’s Business Bay.

The Design District itself has countless trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars. And as you might expect, its fashion, art, and tech shopping are world-class.

There are fashion shows and design expos to stoke your creativity. And as the district grows in popularity, its cultural vibrance will grow with it.

Dubai Design District is a perfect creative hub. It is next to Dubai’s busiest districts. They are within easy reach for business meetings or recreation. Whether you live or work here, it is one of Dubai’s most in-demand districts.

It is well-connected by bus routes, and there is ample parking. You can even ride a riverboat taxi into Dubai Design District.

Development Phases of Dubai Design District

TECOM group built Dubai Design District in 3 phases. And each phase saw fresh innovation and businesses target the district.

Phase 1

Phase one saw an influx of foreign and Emirati talent flood into D3 in 2015. 6,000 creatives worked in Dubai Design District by 2016

60% of these creative companies were international companies. And 40% were local creative firms. Companies like Nike, Adidas, and IBM have since invested in Dubai Design District.

Phase 2

Phase 2 was completed in 2019. Foster and Partners designed this phase. And it further boosted the creative resources available to the community, designed by Foster and Partners.

Phase 3

Phase 3, completed in 2021, saw a focus on creekside development. A huge number of trendy restaurants and venues now glisten on the waterfront. And modern accommodation is available all over Dubai Design District.

Why Start a Business in the Dubai Design District?

There are many advantages to setting up a new business in Dubai Design District. You will enjoy financial benefits, and regulation makes setup easy.

Below are some of the key benefits you will enjoy.

Cost-Effective Startup

Dubai Design District has some of the lowest start-up costs in the world. There are plenty of office and co-working setups. And you can start your new business in 1 month for as little as AED 70,000.

0% Personal Income Tax

You will pay no personal income tax when you base your business in Dubai Design District. This makes a vast difference to your cash flow.

0% Corporate Tax for First 50 Years

This is ideal for new companies. You are free from corporate tax for half a century after you set up a business. This gives you time to grow your new business with maximum profit before you need to pay.

Low VAT and Import Taxes

You will be VAT-free if your taxable turnover is below AED 375,000. Once your business earns above this, you will pay 5% VAT.

Import taxes are also low. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) import tax is 5% for almost all goods.

Zero Currency Restrictions

There are no restrictions on the currency you can invest in Dubai Design District. This makes the district accessible to creatives of all nationalities.

Cutting-Edge Business Resources

Dubai Design District is a world-class design hub, and you will have all the technology you need at all times. Architects have designed offices to be ideal for creative companies. And you will work next to the world’s best designers.

Innovation and Diversity

International entrepreneurs own most businesses in Dubai Design District. And you will be part of an innovative and cosmopolitan community. But UAE businesses too are breaking ground here.

There are great opportunities for female creative businesses in the Dubai Design District. Of the nearly 100 UAE businesses in Dubai Design District, the majority are owned by women.

100% Foreign Ownership

Unlike some other overseas creative hubs, you will own all your business. This differs from Dubai’s mainland business centres, and it gives you the ultimate freedom to run your new business.

Licensing for Fashion, Design, and Freelancers

It is simple to get a business license for all kinds of creative industries. Dubai Design District is ideal for freelancers. It can be hard to arrange licenses as a freelancer, but Dubai offers permits for freelance creative work.

How to Set Up a New Business in Dubai Design District

It is easy to get started with your business setup in Dubai free zones. You will enjoy direct processes and regulations. Business setup services can guide you through every step.

What Business Activities Work Best in Dubai Design District?

Dubai Design District is ideal for most creative businesses. The most common business activities in Dubai Design District include the following:

  • Fashion design
  • Architectural design
  • Graphic design
  • Branding and corporate identity
  • Direct marketing
  • Public relations
  • Image consultancy
  • Industrial design

This list is by no means exhaustive. And the creative community in Dubai Design District is growing all the time. Whatever your creative business, this is one of the best startup locations in the world.

What Are Your Business Setup Options?

You can choose which types of business you want to set up in Dubai Design District. The processes differ between them, but all are accessible and straightforward to complete.

  • Set Up a Limited Liability Company
  • Form a UAE company branch
  • Form a branch for an overseas company
  • Register as a freelancer and apply for your permit

These are the main types of businesses you can set up. But Dubai Design District offers flexible options for all business types. Unsure which business structure works best for you? Contact a business consultant for advice.

How to Get Your UAE Residence Visa

To live, work and bank in Dubai Design District, you need a residence visa. It lasts 3 years, but you need to enter the UAE every six months to keep it valid. But if they have business in Dubai, most entrepreneurs do this anyway.

You need to have a job in the UAE, open a business, or get a freelance permit. There are also options for dependents, students, and high-value property owners. But we will focus on business.

For entrepreneurs, new business and freelance permits are the best. Once you decide, you will need to complete the steps below:

  • Register your company with the UAE authorities
  • Get your establishment card
  • Receive your entry permit
  • Apply for your UAE ID
  • Book your mandatory medical tests
  • Visit a UAE consulate to get your visa

Our team at Virtuzone can help you get your residence visa. This process is fast in most cases. And once you have your visa, you can live anywhere in UAE. But Dubai Design District is best for most creative entrepreneurs.

Once you have your residence visa and documents, it is easy to sponsor visas for your dependents. And you can do this with any job title.

How to Set Up a Business Bank Account in Dubai

With your business license in hand, your next step is to set up a bank account in Dubai Design District. A separate business bank account is crucial to financial management. You want to divide your personal and business finances.

At Virtuzone, we can help you set up your Dubai business bank account. So you can focus on running your business.

We only work with the most trusted banks in the UAE. You can be sure your money is in safe hands.

Apply In-Person

You can visit your chosen bank in person once we have started the process. You will meet with a bank representative. Then you will complete your application forms and send off your documents.

Apply Remotely

You can start your application process from outside of the UAE. You need to attend a brief meeting via phone or video call. In most cases, you will then need to attend the bank in person to sign your forms.

How Long Does It Take?

Your bank account opening process takes around 25 working days. But some specialised accounts can take longer. We are with you from start to finish.

How We Help You Set Up Your Dubai Bank Account

With Virtuzone, your bank account setup process will be simple. We will help you with every step, and we are available to answer all your queries. The main steps you need to complete are below.

Your Company Assessment

Our in-house experts will consult with you and your team to assess your company. We will discuss your business activities and your projected turnover. We can then discuss your capital and how you operate your business.

Contact Your Chosen Bank

Once we have decided on the best bank for your needs, we can arrange for you to liaise with them. If they need any extra documents, we will help you get these.

It is possible to do this without an in-person meeting. And we may be able to represent you in certain situations.

Gather and Sign Your Documents

There are several documents you need to open a business account. But most of these are easy to get. And we can help you with any difficulties.

Most banks will need:

  • Passport scans for you and your partners
  • CVs for you and your partners
  • Certified incorporation documents
  • 6 months of personal bank statements
  • Your UAE ID and residence visa
  • A scan of your Ejari document

Once you have all these documents ready, the rest of the process will be straightforward. And you will soon be able to deposit into your new Dubai bank account. Finally, you will meet with the bank to sign your application in person.

Move to Your New Creative Business Base

All your documents are ready. You’ve got your visa. Now comes the fun part. There is a huge selection of accommodation options in the Dubai Design District. Flights from most countries are direct and cheap.

Dubai has a prime location in the centre of the world’s greatest economies. And you can expand your business to international locations with Dubai as your base. You can use Dubai Design District as the epicentre of your growth.

Dubai’s location opens opportunities for international team-building trips and vacations. But with so much on offer in Dubai Design District, you may find you have no call to leave.

Get Started With Virtuzone’s Business Setup Service

We hope you found our guide to Dubai Design District useful. It can be challenging to start a business overseas. And it is invaluable to have experienced consultants at hand to help you through the process.

Virtuzone has helped more than 70,000 entrepreneurs set up businesses in Dubai. And we have succeeded for 13 years. We know every step of the process. And we can help make your startup as smooth as possible.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you set up your new business in Dubai.

Start your business today