A Complete Guide to Start Your Media/Marketing Business in the UAE

Over the past two decades, the UAE has emerged as one of the leading hubs for the media and marketing sector in the MENA region. Thanks to the various initiatives taken up by the Emirati government, the UAE continues to attract some of the biggest global players in the digital media, broadcasting, and advertising sectors.

As per recent statistics, nearly 99% of the UAE’s population uses at least some form of social media. This shows how deeply the digital medium has infiltrated the daily lives of UAE’s residents and no wonder is the major marketing channel opted for by businesses thanks to the unmatched reach it offers. Hope, this explains the spurt in the establishment of media/marketing agencies in the UAE.

Through this guide, we shall cover every aspect of setting up a media/marketing business in the UAE.

Why opt for a free zone to set up your media/marketing business?

It is a well-known fact that setting up a business in free zones has a host of ownership and tax benefits on offer, something that you cannot avail of on the mainland. However, these are benefits that all free zone companies get irrespective of the industry they belong to and the business they indulge in. We shall give you 4 benefits that you as a media/marketing professional can get in a free zone.

  1. Obtaining a license for media/marketing activities in a free zone costs much less than it would on the mainland.
  2. Most free zones in the UAE do not have a mandatory requirement of a physical office space for getting a trade license. This can be seen as a cost-effective benefit for media/marketing professionals who prefer working remotely.
  3. If you plan on launching a media/marketing business that caters to a particular industry, opting for a free zone that caters to that specific industry can have you surrounded by potential clients and increase your business opportunities by leaps and bounds.

Process to Set up a Media/Marketing Business at a Free Zone in the UAE

  1. Determine your free zone company structure

    Your free zone business could either be a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) with 1 shareholder or a Free Zone Company (FZCO) with up to 50 shareholders.

  2. Choose a trade name for your media/marketing company

    You must choose a trade name that is in line with the naming regulations laid down by the free zone authorities.

  3. Select your business activities

    Selecting the right business activity can be a tricky task since every free zone has its own set of permissible business activities. You may select multiple media/marketing activities related to that your business will indulge in.

  4. Apply for a trade license

    The type of license issued depends on the business activities you select. Though the nature of media-related business activities remains the same, the title of the license issued varies from one free zone to another.

  5. Choose the right workspace (if needed)

    Aspects like budget, staff size, future expansion plans must be kept in mind and a suitable workspace whether shared or dedicated may then be selected.

  6. Company registration and visa issuance

    The company registration procedure involves trade name reservation, submission of the application form and relevant documents, and trade license issuance. If you have opted for visas, the processing for the same may be initiated once the license has been issued.

Process for Free Zone Company Registration

  1. Trade name reservation with the free zone.
  2. Submission of application form along with the below-given documents.

    For individual shareholders

    • Passport copy of the shareholder(s) and manager(s)
    • Latest UAE entry stamp / visit visa copy
    • Residence visa copy and Emirates ID of the shareholder(s) and manager(s) (for UAE residents)
    • Address proof of the shareholder(s) and manager(s)
    • Passport-sized photo of the shareholder(s) and manager(s)

    For corporate shareholders

    • Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Article of Association (AOA)
    • Trade license (for an existing company)
    • Board resolution
    • Certificate of incorporation
  3. Trade license Issuance

    Upon successful issuance of the trade license, the application for visa(s) may be initiated (if you have opted for visa(s)).

Process for Issuance of Residence Visa

  1. File an application for the company establishment card.
  2. For all emirates except Dubai, registration for e-channel services is mandatory.
  3. This is followed by the filing of the e-visa application by submitting the below-given documents
    • Passport copy
    • Trade license
    • Current visa/cancellation paper (if you have a previous UAE visa)
    • Company establishment card
    • Passport-sized photo (with white background)
  4. Once the e-visa is issued, you may arrive in the UAE through the e-visa (If you are outside the country) and file the application for change of status. Upon entering the country or completing the in-country change of status, you must complete the medical test and Emirates ID application within thirty (30) calendar days.

    The following documents are required:

    • Original passport
    • Trade license
    • Establishment card
    • Copy of change status confirmation
    • Copy of the e-visa
    • Passport-sized photos
  5. Once you pass the medical test, the next step is to proceed with the visa stamping application and biometrics process for Emirates ID.
    The following documents are required:

    • Passport
    • Passport-sized photos
    • E-visa issued by the free zone
    • Change status confirmation
    • Trade license of the company
    • Establishment card of the company
    • Stamped Emirates ID application
    • Stamped medical test result
    • Health insurance (mandatory for some emirates)
  6. Finally, the relevant department issues the Emirates ID.

Recommended Free Zones

Below we have compiled a list of free zones that are best suited for setting up a media/marketing business.

Emirate of Sharjah

Sharjah Media City (Shams) is our top recommended free zone for setting up a media/marketing business in the emirate of Sharjah. The free zone is a popular choice among freelance media professionals, small media/marketing agencies, and established marketing firms. Being a media-centric free zone, Shams hosts regular workshops, conferences, seminars for the media/marketing entrepreneurs.

License issued for media/marketing business: Service License

Some Business activities for media/marketing business:

  • Printing and service activities related to printing
  • Reproduction of recorded media
  • Publishing of books, periodicals, and other publishing activities
  • Software publishing
  • Motion picture, video, and television programme activities
  • Sound recording and music publishing activities
  • Radio broadcasting
  • Television programming and broadcasting activities
  • Other telecommunications activities
  • Satellite telecommunications activities
  • Wired telecommunications activities
  • Wireless telecommunications activities
  • Advertising
  • Market research and public opinion polling
  • Photographic activities
  • Specialized design activities
  • Creative, arts and entertainment activities


Emirate of Dubai


International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) has one of the fastest incorporation timeframes for free zone companies. The free zone offers a host of benefits ideal for freelancers and small businesses in the media/marketing industry. These include no mandatory requirement of a physical office space and no requirement of an NOC from your employer.

License issued for media/marketing business: Professional License

Some Business activities for media/marketing business:

  • Marketing Services Via Social Media
  • Marketing Research & Consultancies
  • Media Monitoring Services
  • Public Relations Management
  • Media Studies & Consultancies
  • Music Consultant
  • Billboards Advertising
  • Newspaper Advertisements
  • Motion Picture Trading
  • Marketing Management
  • Sports Events Marketing
  • Public Opinion Polling Services

Meydan Free Zone

Meydan Free Zone is another jurisdiction that is popular among media/marketing professionals looking to set up companies in Dubai. A centralized location, luxurious amenities, and a vibrant networking community are some of the many benefits you can leverage as media/marketing entrepreneur.

License issued for media/marketing business: Media License

Some Business activities for media/marketing business:

  • Printing
  • Reproduction of Recorded Media
  • Publishing of Books, Periodicals, and other publishing activities
  • Motion Picture, Video, and Television Programme Activities
  • Advertising
  • Market Research and Public Opinion Polling
  • Photographic Activities

Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah


Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) is one of the few jurisdictions that have a dedicated zone for the media sector (known as RAKEZ Media Zone). The zone provides a thriving environment for media/marketing professionals where they get ample opportunities to collaborate and work in synergy with fellow companies.


License issued for media/marketing business: Media License

Some Business activities for media/marketing business:

  • Advertising & Communication Agency
  • Branding and Corporate Identity
  • Creative Agency
  • E-Services
  • Fine Arts Consultancies
  • Graphic Design
  • Internet Marketing
  • Marketing & Advertising Training
  • Marketing Management
  • Marketing Research & Consultancies
  • Media & Marketing Consultancy
  • Media Content Management and Provider
  • Music Consultant
  • Newspapers (Regional and National)
  • Outdoor Advertising
  • Promotional/Marketing Material Services


How InZone helps?

InZone is a registered agent with all 4 free zones recommended above. We are a leading corporate service provider with a great deal of experience in setting up media/marketing companies across the UAE’s free zones. Contact us today and get end-to-end assistance in forming your media/marketing company.

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