Comparison of Middle East free-zone entities in 2024

Middle East free zones comparisons UAE-RAKEZ Oman Jordan Lebanon Kuwait
Our ranking in order of preference 1 2 3 4 5
Summary at a Glance
Total year 1 engagement set up costs? US$21,800 US31,000 US$32,595 US$17,860 US$48,665
Total year 2 costs (incl. audit and tax)? US$11,200 US$5,070 US$14,620 US$11,100 US$14,840
Our Client must travel during the engagement? No No No No No
Total engagement period? 3 months 3 months 2 months 3 months 6 months
Corporation tax rate on net profits? (click link) 0 0 20% 17% 0
Average monthly skilled labor salary? (click link) US$3,500 US$4,000 US$1,000 US$600 US$4,000
Average monthly office rental per sq m? US$65 US$58 US$25 US$35 US$35
Average monthly warehouse rental per sq m? US$30 US$30 US$7 US$15 US$10
Must be a 51% shareholder for trading business No No No No No
Must be a 51% shareholder for services business No No No No No
English language proficiency % of population? 0.78 0.6 0.45 0.4 0.4
Incorporation requirements
How long to secure company registration number? 2 months 1 month 1 month 1 month 3 months
Minimum number of shareholders? 1 1 1 3 2
Individual and corporate shareholders allowed? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minimum number of directors? 1 1 1 1 1
Resident director required? No No No No No
Minimum paid up share capital? US$1 US$1 US$70,650 US$3,500 US$36,000
Fast turnkey solution available? (click link) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Special permit or license required? No No No No No
Corporate director(s) allowed? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Public register of shareholders & directors? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tax and accounting considerations
Corporate tax payable? 0 0 0.14 0.15 0
Withholding tax on dividends paid overseas 0 0 0 0 0
Annual financial statements required? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Statutory independent annual audit required? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Export taxes on goods and local GST or VAT? 0 0 0 0 0
Best holding company to extract dividends? Marshall Islands Singapore Labuan UAE-RAKEZ Marshall Islands
Tax incentives for manufacturing start-ups? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Access to how many double tax treaties? N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Number of tax exempt free zones available? 37 4 8 2 1
GCC member? (click link) Yes Yes No No Yes
Corporate bank account considerations
Healy Consultants’ preferred bank? Emirates NDB HSBC SCB HSBC KFH
How long to open corporate bank account? 5 weeks 3 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 5 weeks
Do I travel to open the bank account? No No No No No
Can open a US$ or £ or € bank account? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Good internet banking available? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Funds transfer currency controls No No No No No
Bank rating by World Economic Forum? (click link) 31 22 57 27 50
Ease of getting credit by WEF? score (1-7) (click link) 3 9 25 76 45
Employment considerations
Average skilled labour monthly salary? US$3,100 US$2,900 US$1,500 US$1,200 US$4,000
Average unskilled labour monthly salary? US$1,000 US$800 US$500 US$600 US$1,500
Average pension/insurance benefits % of salary? 0.05 0.105 0 0 0
Minimum national salary? US$400 US$600 US$300 US$450 US$300
Mandatory labor unions? No No No No No
Minimum notice to dismiss employees? 1 month 3 months 3 months 3 months 3 months
Minimum redundancy indemnity? 1 month 1 month 1 month 1 month 3 months
How long to get work permit approved? 4 weeks 4 weeks 5-7 weeks 6-9 weeks 6 weeks
Manufacturing considerations
Cost per unit of electricity? US$ 0.04 0.03 0.23 0.02 0.003
Rank for getting electricity (click link) 4 79 44 57 93
Warehousing space rental (per sq. m.)? US$20 US$5 US$7 US$15 US$10
Ranking for transport infrastructure (click link) (1-7 best) 6.6 4.7 3.6 3 3.7
Ranking for customs procedures out of 10? (click link) 6 4.8 4.5 3.1 3.5
Average import duty % on raw materials? 0 0 0 0 0
Government incentives for startups? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Computer literacy % of population? 0.9 0.85 0.9 0.9 0.85
Internet connectivity rating? Strong Strong Strong Strong Strong
Global business efficiency index? (click link) 23 33 54 - 43
Preferred manufacturing city? Ras Al Khaimah Al Mazunah Zarqa Port of Beirut Kuwait FTZ
Proximity of sea port in kilometers? 8 11 360 0 0
Proximity of airport in kilometers? 97 200 83.4 19.1 16.9
Literacy % of population 0.9 0.814 0.934 0.939 0.94
Local purchasing power (GDP per capita) US$30,122 US$29,813 US$6,115 US$14,845 US$39,706
Local market size (in millions of people) 9 3.2 6.5 4.5 3.9
Average annual inflation rate in 2014? 0.011 0.013 0.055 0.032 0.027
Average unemployment rate in 2014? 0.038 0.08 0.126 0.066 0.031
Ease of doing business index (click link) 22 66 117 104 86
Country rating (click link) AA A- BB- B- AA
Logistics considerations
Monthly warehouse rental (per sq. m.)? US$20 US$10 US$25 US$35 US$15
Manufacturing space rental (sq. m.)? US$9 US$5 US$7 US$15 US$10
Can rent office outside free zones? Yes Yes No Yes No
Can the entity hire local staff? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Average local monthly salary? US$2,500 US$2,900 US$2,600 US$2,200 US$4,000
Can the entity hire expatriate staff? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free zone work permit fee per person US$3,950 US$3,950 US$3,950 US$3,950 US$3,950
How long to get work permit approved? 4 weeks 2-3 weeks 4-5 weeks 3-5 weeks 2-3 weeks

Contact us

For additional information on our Middle East company registration services, please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi