Appointing a sponsor

By law, foreign nationals setting up a company outside of a free zone must sign a Local Agency Agreement with a UAE national. The local agent is referred to as a ‘sponsor’. The sponsor (not to be confused with the terms ‘commercial agent’ or ‘local service agent’) is obliged to assist with all government related issues, such as obtaining permits, trade licences, visas and labour cards. The sponsor’s signature will be required for most application forms. In return, they own 51% of the company and will receive a percentage of the profits.

If you do not have a sponsor, you can contact the Advocates Law Firm ( which has a recommended list.


  • Sponsor must either be a UAE national or a company that is 100%-owned by UAE nationals
  • Setting up an LLC or public/private shareholding company

What to bring

  • Passport and Resident ID of business owner and sponsor (copies)
  • Attested Memorandum of Association (original and copy)
  • Attested articles of association (original and copy)
  • Passports of all board members or partners (copy)
  • Letter from DED to certify sponsor is UAE national


@Department of Economic Development (DED)
  • A contract (Local Agency Agreement) is signed by both parties and notarised
  • Legalise the contract if setting up a branch office
  • Get contract authenticated at the UAE embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Translate contract into Arabic
  • Seal contract with notary public of Abu Dhabi Courts
  • Contract is ready to be submitted in all procedures for setting up a company

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