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Can a Foreign Company Work with UAE Government Entities

can a foreign company work with uae government entities

When foreign companies consider entering the UAE market, one common question arises: Can they do business directly with UAE government entities? The answer is nuanced and largely depends on the type of business setup and the internal policies of the specific government entity involved.

Business Setup: Mainland vs. Free Zone

In the UAE, businesses can be set up either in the mainland region or within one of the various free zones. Each setup comes with its own set of benefits and restrictions, which can affect business dealings with government companies.

Mainland Companies

Mainland companies are registered in the UAE outside of the free zones and are subject to regulations of the UAE government. These companies are typically allowed to do business freely within all regions of the UAE, including direct dealings with all government companies. The preference for mainland companies when it comes to government contracts is notable. This is because they face fewer restrictions in terms of scope of business activities and local trading.

Free Zone Companies

Free zone companies are set up in special economic zones, each with its own set of rules and benefits, such as tax exemptions and customs duty benefits. While these companies are highly attractive for international businesses due to their benefits, they are generally restricted to operating within their specific free zone and international markets. However, they can still provide services and goods to government entities in many cases.

Dealing with Government Entities

For foreign businesses, particularly those set up in free zones, accessing government projects can be subject to certain limitations:

Preference for Mainland Businesses

It is not uncommon for UAE government entities to prefer dealing with mainland businesses. This preference is not mandated by UAE law but is often driven by the internal policies of the government entities. These policies might favor mainland companies due to their unrestricted operational scope within the UAE.

Acceptance of Free Zone Licenses

Generally, a free zone license is acceptable for transactions with many government entities and almost all private companies. The key is to verify if the specific government entity has any restrictions regarding free zone companies. Some entities may accept free zone companies as vendors or service providers, while others might have more stringent requirements.



In conclusion, the company must be registered in the UAE and while free zone companies in the UAE can face some restrictions in obtaining government contracts, they can still engage with government entities under certain conditions. Companies looking to maximize their opportunities may find a mainland setup more beneficial for wider engagement with government bodies. Understanding the specific needs and preferences of these entities is essential, and working with a local partner or consultant who knows the regulatory landscape can provide crucial, tailored guidance for your business objectives.

How Can Choose UAE Help

At Choose UAE, we streamline the process of obtaining your Dubai mainland or free zone business license. We start with a personalized consultation to identify the best license type for your business, handle all documentation, and act as a liaison with government bodies to ensure smooth communication and quick processing. Once your license is secured, we continue to support you with services like visa applications, Emirates ID registration, and corporate banking setup. Our focus on efficiency helps you avoid unnecessary costs and delays, making your business setup in Dubai straightforward and stress-free. For more information on how Choose UAE can assist you, please visit our website or contact us directly.

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