United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates, a hub of luxury and innovation, offers an ideal environment for family offices with its tax incentives, streamlined business processes, and skilled workforce. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) provide robust regulatory frameworks. And the country's political stability, economic resilience, and strategic location further enhance its appeal.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Evaluation categories

  • Tax regulations & incentives
  • Legal & regulatory structures
  • Economy & political climate
  • Services & talent access
  • Culture & lifestyle considerations
  • Resources

    Key numbers

    FAQ

    united arab emirates
    Updated on June 13, 2024

    Introduction

    An oasis in the Middle East

     

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE), consisting of seven emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, provides the ideal destination for managing and preserving wealth for affluent families. 

     

    The discovery of oil in the late 1950s sparked an economic revolution, transforming the arid region into a cosmopolitan hub of luxury and innovation. Today, the country boasts some of the most breathtaking skyscrapers and luxurious resorts in the world, as well as a diverse range of cultural and recreational activities for all ages. 

     

    Moreover, the UAE offers a range of benefits for HNWIs and their families, including tax exemptions, streamlined business processes, and a highly skilled workforce. 

    Notable: Trade Free Zones

    The UAE has been successful in attracting HNWIs and family offices from across the globe. The main factors contributing to this success are the establishment of two free trade zones, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). 

     

    The free trade zones have been instrumental in building a regulatory framework and infrastructure that provides a stable and secure environment for wealthy families to manage their private wealth, succession and tax planning.

    People to know

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    These are experts from our network who deeply understand specific topics or subject matter, but can also help navigate the local ecosystem with network, connections, insights, services, and more.

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    Evaluation categories

    1. Tax regulations & incentives

    The UAE has been a preferred destination for family offices due to its favourable tax system, which does not impose personal or corporate income taxes. However, in order to comply with the OECD's Global Tax Deal, the region has recently introduced a low corporate income tax rate of 9%, which is among the lowest in the world.

    The UAE has put in place a Corporate Tax (CT) policy throughout all Emirates. This policy applies to individuals and all types of businesses conducting commercial activities, excluding the extraction of natural resources. Family offices and investment companies fall within the scope of UAE CT. A flat tax rate of 9% applies to companies that earn more than 375,000 AED.

    If a company or branch is registered in a Free Zone, it is required to follow the normal compliance obligations. However, if the entity meets the conditions of being a Qualifying Free Zone Person (QFZP), it can enjoy a 0% CT rate on its Qualifying Income. But if the income of the QFZP is not considered Qualifying Income, it will be taxed at the standard 9% CT rate.

    2. Legal & regulatory structures

    Through the DIFC Family Wealth Centre (DFWC), the UAE provides a supportive and dynamic legal framework for global and regional family-owned businesses, ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and private wealth. Recently, the DFWC introduced new regulations, marking a significant step forward in their commitment to setting the standards for excellence in the industry. With a focus on transparency, accountability, and stability, the new Family Business Law provides a comprehensive framework that allows family offices to operate confidently, knowing that the highest level of legal and regulatory oversight protects their interests.

    The New Family Business Law is designed to help family businesses plan for the future and continue to thrive across generations. The law makes it easier for businesses to be transferred between family members by allowing for different types of shares and any number of shareholders. The law also provides an exception to certain rules that previously made it difficult for family members to take over the business.

    The regulations establish certification and accreditation programs for family businesses and their advisors in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The purpose of these programs is to educate family businesses about the benefits and incentives available in the region while also ensuring that they adhere to good conduct and governance principles. Additionally, the accreditation program aims to equip advisors with high levels of quality and expertise in advising families.

    3. Economic & political climate

    The UAE occupies a strategic geographic position at the crossroads of trade, commerce, and diverse cultures that have co-existed and interacted for centuries. Additionally, the country is located at the centre of the world's fastest-growing markets, connected by world-leading airlines, seaports, data centres, and telecommunication infrastructure. The UAE has achieved economic diversification through careful planning and investment, making it a preferred destination in the region for global business and investment. The region continues to enable business, enhance competitiveness, and create an environment that attracts investments, tourism, and talent.

    Global economic and political uncertainties are prompting UHNWIs to diversify their geographic footprint. The UAE’s stability and neutrality make it an attractive alternative to traditional family office locations. The UAE leadership has a clear vision for the future, with a focus on diversification and building a knowledge-based economy. Its commitment to stability and long-term growth ensures that the country prioritises economic growth and takes a neutral position in political matters. Additionally, the region provides a strategic platform for accessing the vast opportunities presented by emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa, which is useful for family offices looking to diversify their portfolios.

    Despite the economic uncertainties, the UAE’s economy continues to grow, even outperforming economic metrics set by the IMF. The country’s strategic initiatives to diversify into non-oil GDP growth demonstrate its economic dynamism and potential for long-term growth. The Ministry of Finance’s commitment to national development as a primary objective creates an environment that is favourable for investments. Family offices can benefit from the UAE’s prosperity and resilience by investing in various sectors, such as real estate, technology, healthcare, and tourism. The UAE government has also introduced various initiatives and policies to support foreign investors and promote entrepreneurship.

    The UAE has made significant efforts to create a business-friendly environment where family offices can operate. The country has made starting and running a business easy with streamlined processes and free zones that offer tax exemptions and customs benefits. The government also has a stable regulatory environment and has introduced laws aimed explicitly at family businesses. Additionally, the UAE provides access to a large and growing market and a strategic location that serves as a gateway to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

    The UAE offers world-class infrastructure and a range of professional services, including legal, accounting, and financial services, which are essential for family offices. Finally, a growing community of family offices in the UAE provides networking opportunities and access to knowledge and expertise.

    4. Services & talent access

    The UAE is a popular destination for expats and executives due to the abundance of professional opportunities, tax-free earnings and a unique work-life balance. Dubai's thriving business economy and technology-driven industries offer diverse career growth prospects for executives seeking new challenges. The UAE's tax-free income system allows executives to retain their entire earnings, ensuring financial advantages and savings opportunities. Additionally, with its urban landscape, beautiful beaches, and mountains, the region provides a perfect mix of city life and seaside tranquillity.

    The DIFC offers two programs to support family offices – the DIFC Talent Network and the DIFC Family Wealth Centre. The DIFC Talent Network connects job seekers with job opportunities within the DIFC ecosystem. Job seekers create profiles, follow companies are matched with open roles. For hiring managers, the platform provides a system to source, engage, and hire candidates based on various criteria such as skills, experience, and location. This program is particularly useful for family offices who want to streamline their hiring process and find candidates that fit their specific needs.

    The UAE has progressive visa policies to attract global talent, investors, and visitors. The following are the major changes made to the visa policies:

    Visit Visa Extensions: 90-day visit visa holders can get a one-time 30-day extension, and all tourist visas are eligible for a 30-day extension. The extension process can be completed digitally.

    Golden Visa: This visa is being offered to investors, entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, exceptional talents, and outstanding students. It is a 10-year renewable visa.

    Green Visa: This visa allows highly skilled individuals, investors, entrepreneurs, and top students and graduates to reside in the UAE without being anchored to an employer.

    Remote Work Visa:

    This visa permits holders to live in the UAE while working remotely for employers based outside the country.

    5. Culture & lifestyle considerations

    The UAE is a sought-after destination for family offices due to its multicultural society, high living standards, safety, cleanliness, and world-class amenities. The region is home to just under 10 million people, with almost 90% of the population being foreigners, resulting in a diverse cultural landscape. This diversity has made the UAE one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East, where different cultures and beliefs are generally accepted. The presence of a multicultural society provides a broad perspective on global affairs and investment opportunities, making it an ideal location for family offices that operate internationally.

    Ranked 15th globally in terms of quality of life, the UAE offers high living standards, combining modernity with traditional elements. This ranking, up nine places from previous years, underscores the country’s commitment to providing a high-quality life for its residents, including those involved in managing and investing wealth through family offices.

    With world-class amenities, including state-of-the-art infrastructure, excellent healthcare, and educational institutions, as well as luxury lifestyle and leisure options, the UAE stands out as a premier destination for family offices. These facilities not only cater to the professional needs of family offices but also ensure a comfortable and enriched lifestyle for families.

    Service Providers

    clarity-logo

    Clarity AI Clarity AI

    United States of America
    Impact & ESG

    Clarity AI uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide investors and advisors with insights to make sustainably informed decisions. 

    8topuz, family office software, portfolio management software, consolidated reporting software

    8topuz

    United Arab Emirates
    Trading

    8topuz Wealth Fintech is an award-winning artificial intelligence and machine learning provider, based in Cyprus and in the UAE, offering automated and audited investment solutions

    asora

    Asora Asora

    Ireland
    Data Aggregation

    Asora is a SAAS solution for single and multi-family offices to track and oversee assets, automating data capture and providing digital on demand reporting on web and mobile.

    Eton Logo

    Eton Solutions Eton Solutions

    United States of America
    Portfolio Management

    Eton's platform, AtlasFive, reimagines each intricate process of a family office into one integrated platform that optimizes efficiency, increases transparency, and maximizes accuracy.

    veltracon lifestyle logo

    Veltracon Lifestyle Veltracon Lifestyle

    Switzerland
    Lifestyle & Concierge

    Veltracon Lifestyle is a 24/7 VIP service provider and lifestyle concierge. Their slogan 'anything, anytime, anywhere' says it all about Veltracon.

    Family Offices

    Taurus Wealth

    Taurus Wealth, established in 2008, is a global wealth management firm with offices in Singapore, Dubai, and Zurich.

    Key numbers

    At a glance

    Evaluate key statistics to compare the UAE with other regions

    Comparison United Arab Emirates

    Corporate Income Tax Rate

    9%

    Henley Passport Index 2023 Rankings

    8

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    FAQ

    Q

    What is the financial regulatory authority in the United Arab Emirates?

    A
    In the UAE Mainland, the regulator for financial services is the CBUAE, which stands for the Central Bank of the UAE. However, the UAE has several free zones with independent financial regulators, including the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Financial Services Authority (DFSA), Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).
    Q

    How many family offices are there in the United Arab Emirates?

    A
    As of 2024, an estimated 55 single-family offices are based in the UAE.
    Q

    What are some prominent family office industry events and conferences in the United Arab Emirates?

    A
    The UAE hosts several family office events, including the ME Family Office Summit, which is held annually in Dubai, and the Abu Dhabi Family Office Summit (ADFO).

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