Sharjah client case studies

Expansion into the Middle East for successful European design firm

Background

Register business in Sharjah case study Otto is a Germany-based designer whose business specializes in 3D modeling for the construction industry. Due to the Gulf’s booming construction sector, particularly in the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain, Otto decided to set up a regional presence to cater to existing and new clients in these markets.

Otto successfully built his European business servicing major clients in Germany and the UK from his headquarters in Mainz, Germany. In 2005, however, he secured his first Middle East contract for a 3D modeling project in Doha (Qatar), and since then has secured three further contracts on niche projects in the Gulf region.

Serving these Gulf clients from Germany proved difficult, and prompted Otto to review his business model and set up a regional office in the Gulf. Otto discovered Healy Consultants through a Google search, and initially called our Dubai office to find out how we could assist him to achieve his objectives, which included 100% control of the company and the ability to hire as many expatriate staff as he needed.

Company incorporation

Our Dubai Incorporation Team sent Otto an email comparing suitable locations and business types, the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as a detailed breakdown of setup costs and procedures.

One week later, Otto traveled to Dubai from Germany to visit our team, sign our client engagement letter, and settle our fees. Our Dubai staff also arranged to take Otto on a familiarization tour of potential office locations in the UAE, since it had become clear during the pre-incorporation phase that a free zone company would be the optimum corporate structure to fulfill Otto’s international business objectives.

Otto visited Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Airport Freezone and Sharjah Airport Freezone in one day, meeting officials from the authorities and viewing offices. With this stage complete, Otto and Healy Consultants agreed that a Sharjah Airport Freezone Company would be the most suitable corporate structure, because Otto was encouraged by the speed of setup in the Zone and because some of his potential clients were in Sharjah. We also advised him that the minimum capital to set up a company in Sharjah Airport Free Zone is 150,000 UAE Dirhams (US$40,840).

With this decided, our Dubai Incorporation Team began the incorporation phase in earnest by collecting all required due diligence from Otto, confirming the corporate structure (including shareholders and directors) with him and confirming the type of license he wished to obtain from the Sharjah Airport Freezone Authority. Otto confirmed that he and his German business partner were to be the company shareholders and that the company required a Services License.

The next step for our Incorporation Team was to complete a Sharjah Airport Freezone Application Form for Otto’s company. Our Marketing Team in Singapore also prepared a detailed business plan for the company, outlining the services it will offer, an analysis of current market conditions, some information on potential clients, as well as financial projections. Once complete, these documents were couriered to Otto in Germany for his signature and return to us, which was achieved within one week.

Our Incorporation Team then visited the Marketing and Sales Department of the Sharjah Airport Freezone Authority in person, submitting the signed application form and business plan, along with passport copies of the shareholders, and a cheque for the minimum required deposit, for which we received a receipt which was scanned and e-mailed to Otto on the same day.

Within four days, our Incorporation Team had received an approval letter from the Authority. With this done, Otto again visited visited the Authority with our Team to pay the office lease amount and sign the lease agreement (although our staff could complete this task without his presence, Otto was in nearby Doha visiting a client and was happy to take the short flight to Sharjah for the day to complete this task).

Four days after signing the lease agreement and paying the fees, our Incorporation Team received in Healy Consultants’ Dubai office the Services License for Otto’s company, as well as a lease agreement and keys to the premises. These had been issued by the Lease and Licensing Department of the Sharjah Airport Freezone Authority.

Corporate anointing

The next step was to help open a multi-currency corporate bank account for the company at Standard Chartered Bank in Sharjah. Our Dubai Banking Team prepared the bank account application, while our Singapore-based Marketing Team modified the business plan which had been submitted to the Sharjah Airport Freezone Authority. The bank account application and business plan were then couriered to Germany for Otto’s signature and return to us.

Meanwhile, our Dubai office requested a Letter of Recommendation from the Sharjah Free Zone Authority for Otto’s company, which would also be submitted to the bank. Our Dubai office received the letter within five working days.

Healy Consultants’ Dubai Banking Team then prepared a full application pack to send to the bank, including the signed documents from Germany, the recommendation letter from the Free Zone Authority, the company’s Trade License, the office lease agreement, and a copy of the bank signatories’ passports. Once this had been completed, our Dubai staff visited the bank in Sharjah to submit the pack. They were advised that a bank account number would be issued within two weeks.

Healy Consultants’ Dubai office received notification that the account had been approved within the two weeks indicated, and over the course of the following two weeks they received (in sealed, separate envelopes) internet banking and ATM card PIN numbers, which we kept safely for Otto’s collection.Otto and his business partner were grateful for Healy Consultants’ assistance in ensuring the smooth setup of his Sharjah company, especially by minimising any convenience to them by completing tasks without them needing to visit the UAE in person.

IT consultant set up Hamriyah free zone company

Background

Mr. Raju is an IT consultant who, until late 2004, was based in India and working for a company providing IT services, including Internet Telephony Services (ITS), in South East Asia. Rampant growth in the ITS sector in the Gulf states – particularly in the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain – prompted Mr Raju and his business associates to consider ways to tap opportunities in these markets, as well as migrate to the region to better serve clients there. Their optimism was based not only on market potential but also the unique and complementary skills of his business associates, all of whom have worked as consultants in various different IT sectors.

Engagement planning

Mr Raju’s primary objectives were to incorporate a company with 100% foreign ownership (himself and three other shareholders) which was easy to maintain, had minimal tax and accounting obligations, and which would allow him to do business without restriction throughout the Gulf region, using expatriate staff. When Mr Raju approached Healy Consultants in December 2004 (following an Internet search), he was keen to set up the company as quickly as possible, but still had no concrete idea of where to incorporate and the exact procedures to do so.

Aidan Healy, the managing director of Healy Consultants, discussed the legal, accounting, and tax implications of setting up a company in different locations in the Gulf, and then sent Mr Raju a comparison table of the different options, including setup costs. Based on Mr Raju’s business model for the new company, Healy Consultants recommended the Hamriyah Free Zone, located in Sharjah. The free zone has an existing community of consulting companies, fulfilled Mr Raju’s criteria for the company, and, given that he wanted to set up the company as quickly as possible, was able to offer relatively swift incorporation. On the downside, a free zone company is technically unable to do business within the UAE – however, Mr Raju acknowledged that he would be able to carry out business in the UAE as a freelance consultant, if required.

The engagement began with Mr Raju signing Healy Consultants’ client engagement letter, in which the intended corporate structure of the new company is confirmed. He also supplied by email some initial due diligence on all shareholders and directors, as required internally by Healy Consultants. In return, Healy Consultants sent Mr Raju a detailed engagement project plan for Hamriyah Free Zone, indicating incorporation procedures and likely timeframe. It had been agreed by all shareholders that the new entity should be a free zone company (FZC). An FZC has a minimum capital requirement of approximately US$40,000, which must be paid prior to incorporation, and also requires a license, the type depending on the nature of the business to be carried out by the company.

As such, Healy Consultants completed a Hamriyah License Application Form, which contains details of the services to be offered by the company, an analysis of the current market conditions, along with information on potential clients as well as financial projections. In addition, a Hamriyah Free Zone Project Approval Form was completed. Once complete, the documents were couriered to Mr. Raju in India for his signature and were returned to us within two weeks. Healy Consultants then visited the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority in person to submit the application, and provisional approval was granted within one week, meaning that legal documents relating to the company could now be prepared.

Company incorporation

Four days later, Healy Consultants again visited the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority to submit the legal documents, along with notarized passport copies of the shareholders (the passports had been notarised in India by the shareholders at the beginning of the engagement), and a cheque for the minimum deposit, for which we received a receipt that was scanned and emailed to Mr. Raju immediately. On our clients’ behalf, Healy Consultants also worked with the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority to locate an executive leased office premises in the Free Zone for Mr Raju’s company. To achieve this, we completed the Office License Application Form, and couriered it to Mr Raju for his signature and return to us. Once this had been received again, Healy Consultants submitted the application to the Free Zone Authority for processing, along with the required payment of one year’s rental for the office.

Six days after submitting the application, Healy Consultants received a one year lease agreement (renewable), as well as a Commercial License for the company. Mr Raju’s next request was for Healy Consultants’ assistance in furnishing the office. We have a preferred office retailer in Dubai, who has supplied high quality office furniture for several of our clients in the UAE, and they delivered and fitted desks, chairs and filing cabinets to Hamriyah. Because of his contacts in the IT industry, Mr Raju arranged for the office to be supplied with computers, printers and other Internet communications equipment.

Corporate banking

Due to Mr. Raju’s hectic schedule, he requested for a corporate bank account to be opened. Healy Consultants completed an application form for HSBC Dubai, as well as a preparing a business plan outlining the company’s activities, a financial projection, and a brief market analysis. These were both couriered to Mr. Raju in India for his signature and return to us. Once we had received the signed documents, Healy Consultants submitted the corporate bank account application, along with the business plan, Commercial License, office lease agreement and copy of the bank signatories’ passports to HSBC Dubai.

Within two weeks, Healy Consultants received approval for the Dubai corporate bank account. Over the course of the following two weeks we received (in sealed, separate envelopes) internet banking and ATM card PIN numbers, which we kept safely for Mr. Raju’s collection.

Employment visa

The final phase of the engagement was to obtain work and residence permits for Mr Raju and the other company shareholders. To achieve this, Healy Consultants approached the Investor Service Department at Hamriyah Free Zone to collect the necessary application forms for an employment visa and residence permit.

Once the application forms had been completed, Healy Consultants sent them to India for the applicants’ signatures. Once the signed forms had been returned to us (three weeks after they were sent to India), Healy Consultants submitted them to the Investor Service Department, along with:

  • Two copies of each applicants’ passports;
  • Three passport photographs per applicant;
  • Photocopy of Educational Certificates for each applicant – provided at the same time as the signed application forms;
  • A processing fee of US$73.50.

Once the employment visa was issued (via an Employment Entry Permit), we requested Mr Raju and the other applicants to visit the UAE to obtain their residence permits. The residence permit application includes the application form, the original passport of each applicant, the Employment Entry Permit, five passport photographs per applicant, an original medical fitness certificate and one health card photocopy, a security form, along with fees for a two year permit of US$205.

Once the residence permit had been stamped, Hamriyah Free Zone issued an Identification Card for Mr Raju and the shareholders, signaling a satisfactory end to the engagement.

Entrepreneur relocated business to be closer to Asian clients

Background

Mr. Erez is an Anglo-Turkish entrepreneur who runs a successful business dealing in high value collectible items, such as antiques and memorabilia. Until mid-2006, he had been running the business from the UK, but decided to re-domicile the company in a more tax-efficient, lower cost jurisdiction as part of his future business strategy. The decision was also prompted by greatly increased demand for his company’s products, which have to be distributed to clients around the world as quickly as possible. The years 2005 and 2006 had seen a 70% increase in the value of client orders from Japan and South Korea, but the company faced growing overheads to service these markets from the UK.

Engagement planning

Mr Erez was particularly interested in setting up a company in a Middle East city, which would be geographically mid-way between the vast bulk of his traditional client base in Europe, as well as new clients in Asia. Critically, the company would also need good logistics infrastructure, with a warehouse and offices and with close proximity to an airport, allowing it distribute goods swiftly by air to global clients. The company would also require licenses to import and export goods freely. It was at this point in the planning process that Mr Erez contacted Healy Consultants, who advised him that two free zones in the UAE would likely meet his requirements – Dubai Airport Freezone and Sharjah International Airport Freezone. Mr Erez agreed that both had the necessary infrastructure for his business, as well as allowing him complete ownership of the company. On the downside, we warned him of the high capital requirements of setting up a company in each free zone. With this clarified, Healy Consultants sent Mr Erez a detailed cost proposal for setting up a company in Sharjah International Airport Freezone, his preferred option.

Company incorporation

Our Client replied within two weeks with the go-ahead for the project, signing our client engagement letter and outlining his required corporate structure for the new company (a free zone company, for example, requires a minimum of two shareholders). In addition, he arranged to courier to us the required due diligence, and settled our engagement fees by telegraphic transfer. Healy Consultants then drew up a project road map, highlighting required steps and allotting a time frame to incorporate the company and obtain a trade license, which was sent to Mr Erez to ensure he was fully aware of the procedures. With the necessary framework agreed, Healy Consultants began preparing the obligatory documents. For an FZC, five documents are required:

  • An application form from Sharjah International Airport Freezone Authority – completed by Healy Consultants and emailed to Mr Erez for his review, signature, and return, which was done within one week;
  • Project summary – prepared by Healy Consultants, this is a business plan which outlines the company’s intended activities, the products and services it will provide, information on its clients and suppliers, a brief market analysis, information on marketing and operational strategies, and a financial projection. Along with the application form above, this was emailed to Mr Erez for his review, signature, and return, which was done within one week;
  • Passport copies of shareholders – Mr Erez and his wife would be the shareholders, and these were supplied by him as part of the initial due diligence requirement;
  • A cheque for the minimum capital of AED 150,000 (US$41,000) – Mr Erez arranged a telegraphic transfer of the funds to Healy Consultants. We then wrote a cheque for the same, payable to the Free Zone Authority;
  • Letter of acceptance from a local auditor in the UAE – Healy Consultants works with an accredited auditor in Dubai, who were able to issue the letter.

With the full incorporation pack, Healy Consultants approached the Marketing and Sales Department of Sharjah International Airport Freezone Authority, and a response was received within two days containing an approval letter for the new company, along with a draft lease agreement (for the warehouse and office space), which were both forwarded to Mr Erez. On the original application form, Mr Erez had indicated his specifications and budget for warehouse and office space in the Free Zone, and the lease agreement reflected this. Mr Erez returned a signed lease agreement, and Healy Consultants paid the one-year office rental charges up front as required (Mr Erez had arranged a telegraphic transfer of funds to Healy Consultants to cover this) to the Marketing and Sales Department.

Three days later, Healy Consultants received a package from the Lease and Licensing Department of the Sharjah International Airport Freezone Authority, containing the company license, the lease agreement, and keys to the new premises. Mr Erez next required Healy Consultants’ assistance in furnishing the office. We use an office retailer in Dubai (close to Sharjah), who supplies high quality office furniture for many of our clients in the UAE, and they delivered and fitted desks, chairs, and filing cabinets to Sharjah for Mr Erez’ company. We also arranged to fit the office with IT hardware including computers, printers, telephones, and fax machines, so it was ready for business.

Corporate banking

Mr Erez also requested Healy Consultants’ assistance to open a corporate bank account to support the company. Healy Consultants completed an application form for Standard Chartered Bank Dubai, as well as a preparing a business plan outlining the company’s activities, a financial projection, and a brief market analysis. These were both couriered to Mr. Erez in the UK for his signature and return to us. Once we had received the signed documents, Healy Consultants submitted the corporate bank account application, along with the business plan, Commercial License, office lease agreement, and copy of the bank signatories’ passports to SCB Dubai. Within two weeks, Healy Consultants received approval for the Dubai corporate bank account. Over the course of the following two weeks we received (in sealed, separate envelopes) internet banking and ATM card PIN numbers, which we kept safely for Mr. Erez’ collection.

Employment visas

The final phase of the engagement was to obtain work and residence permits for Mr Erez and his wife. To achieve this, Healy Consultants approached the Client & Investor Services Department at Sharjah Airport International Freezone to collect the necessary application forms for an employment visa and residence permit. Once the application forms had been completed, Healy Consultants sent them to India for the applicants’ signatures. Once the signed forms had been returned to us (three weeks after they were sent to India), Healy Consultants submitted them to the Investor Service Department, along with:

  • Two copies of each applicants’ passports;
  • Three passport photographs per applicant;
  • Photocopy of Educational Certificates for each applicant – provided at the same time as the signed application forms;
  • A processing fee of US$73.50.

Once the employment visa was issued (via an Employment Entry Permit), we requested Mr Erez and his wife to visit the UAE to obtain their residence permits. The residence permit application includes the application form, the original passport of each applicant, the Employment Entry Permit, five passport photographs per applicant, an original medical fitness certificate and one health card photocopy, a security form, along with fees for a two year permit of US$205. Once the residence permit had been stamped, Sharjah Airport International Freezone issued an identification card for Mr Erez and his wife, and at this stage the engagement had been completed to our client’s complete satisfaction.

Contact us

For additional information on our company registration services in Sharjah, please email us at email@healyconsultants.com. Alternatively please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi