Mainland company (LLC) in the UAE is registered geographically outside freezones. Typically, for the registration of such a company requires a local partner - a citizen of the UAE, who will nominally own 51% of the business. It is possible to limit the intervention of a local partner by amending the company’s Charter, or appointing a holding company structure.
However, in April 2018, His Excellency Sultan bin Said al-Mansuri, Minister of Economy, announced a new investment law allowing 100% foreign capital in selected sectors of mainland companies. This law came into force in the fourth quarter of 2018. The new law liberalizes a number of sectors, such as manufacturing (including pharmaceuticals) and services.
The mainland company can rent an office in any part of the emirate that is not part of the free economic zones, participate in public tenders, but can only operate at the place of registration. To do business in another emirate or free economic zone, you must register a branch.
A representative office is not a separate legal entity. It can only carry out marketing and promotional activities for the head office and cannot undertake any business/trade activity and only in the emirate of the registration and outside the UAE.
Limited Liability Company (LLC):
An LLC is a separate legal entity that can be established in mainland UAE, but foreign ownership is currently restricted to 49%. Fifty-one percent of the company must be locally owned by a UAE national shareholder or a UAE national company. It must have at least two shareholders. An LLC all activities included in its license in the respective emirate and outside UAE.
A branch is not separate legal entity. It can only carry out the same activities as the head office and only in the emirate of the registration and outside the UAE. A local agent must also be appointed.