Proposal to open a game development company in the UAE free zones

Free zones (free economic zones) in the UAE are geographically delineated areas of the city where no local partner or local agent is required to open a company and 100% foreign ownership is allowed.

Due to such advantages, there are more and more such zones in the country and their development is very rapid.

One of the young but most promising and popular is the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA). Originally established in the Emirate of Fujairah and relocated to Dubai in October 2020, it offers unique opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups to expand their businesses, as well as competitive pricing, a wide range of activities and state-of-the-art infrastructure. This includes access to virtual offices, warehouse space and conventional offices.

Opening a game development company in this particular free zone is a great decision, given the range of benefits discussed below. However, the IFZA has alternatives that can be considered even more advantageous in some aspects, such as the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, which is also growing rapidly and offers a wide range of business opportunities.

Thus, if you are planning to start your own game development company in the UAE, Manimama offers the following jurisdictions for incorporation:

  • IFZA

We further suggest to consider each of them in more detail.

What are the advantages of opening a company in the IFZA free zone?

The main advantages of obtaining a license in IFZA are:

  • low tax rates
  • convenient conditions for doing business internationally
  • possibility to use a co-working space and legal address without renting your own premises
  • the possibility of sole ownership of 100% of the company’s shares
  • quick process of obtaining resident visas for owners, which entitles them to be granted tax resident status in the UAE
  • the possibility of full repatriation of capital and business income with low start-up and operating costs

IFZA also offers several types of business licenses, among which is a special trade license for game developers.

What activities are covered by licenses in the IFZA?

The list of activities covered by a particular type of license includes:

  • Online Gaming Services (6190002), which is appropriate for firms that develop free and paid online games and provide support and provision services for them
  • Gaming Streaming Social Media Platform (6020001), which includes digital platforms that stream E-sports competitions, gaming videos, and provide an opportunity for members of the gaming community to interact
  • Gaming Development Services (6201014), which is appropriate for firms that create and develop video, mobile and PC games, including creating software for them and customizing them for compatibility with video and mobile displays
  • Gaming Engine Operation (6312001), which includes platforms offering various system solutions for video and mobile game software development
  • Gaming Publisher (5820003), which includes firms that hold the publishing rights to video and mobile games, whether the games have been developed internally by the publisher or externally by a gaming developer
  • Gaming studio (5911008), which includes firms involved in multiple aspects of the gaming industry, including game development, content production, technology, distribution, and publishing
  • Gaming Production Service Providers (5912010), which includes firms that provide a variety of services to meet the needs of companies in the gaming industry, including audio development, casting, remastering, script adaptation, postproduction, testing, and more
  • Gaming Localization Services (7490022), which includes firms providing localization services, including language translation, general cultural accuracy consulting, advertising, marketing, and branding materials
  • Gaming Industry Research Services (7220011), which is suitable for firms providing market research and studies regarding trends in the gaming industry

At the same time, you can add up to 3 types of activities from the list above to the license without paying an additional fee. Each subsequent addition will cost 2000 AED (approximately 550 USD). Thus, obtaining a license from IFZA is very profitable.

Are there any alternatives to the IFZA Free zone?

As mentioned above, the IFZA Free zone as a jurisdiction for starting a company and obtaining a license has an alternative – the RAKEZ Free zone in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. It is an attractive location for various business communities-freelancers, startups, SMEs, and industrialists. This zone allows businesses to choose and add up to 7 activities free of charge when obtaining a license, which is more than double the established maximum in IFZA.

What activities are covered by licenses in RAKEZ?

The list of activities eligible for a license in RAKEZ is as follows:

  • Artificial Intelligence Developer (RAKEZ9000908)
  • Data management and cybersecurity services (RAKEZ9000909)
  • Digital and Interactive Game Development (100027)
  • E-sport data and analytics (100099)
  • Player support service providers (RAKEZ9000926)
  • Game quality assurance specialist (RAKEZ9000927)
  • Provider/developer of virtual reality and augmented reality services (RAKEZ9000928)
  • E-sports league operator (100100)
  • Online E-sports publication (100101)
  • E-sports organization (100102)
  • Platform for E-sports tournaments (100103)
  • Event management – E-sport (100104)
  • Game publisher (RAKEZ100099)
  • Gaming academy (RAKEZ9000916)
  • Community management (RAKEZ9000917)
  • Play counseling services (RAKEZ90000918)
  • Game engine (RAKEZ90000919)
  • Gaming industry research services (RAKEZ9000920)
  • Localization services (RAKEZ9000921)
  • Gaming platform – Console/PC/mobile (RAKEZ9000922)
  • Game production service provider (RAKEZ9000923)
  • Gaming studio (RAKEZ9000924)
  • Game talent management services (RAKEZ9000925)
  • Interactive Services (100030)

What are the main stages of company registration in the IFZA and RAKEZ free zones?

Registering a business in the UAE is considered relatively simple, as local authorities require a minimum package of documents and carry out incorporation operations in a short time. Among the main stages of company incorporation in the UAE, including IFZA and RAKEZ freezones, are the following:

  • Choice of legal form for the company. The most common form in the UAE is a Limited Liability Company (LLC);
  • Selection of a unique name for the company;
  • Submission of the application and required documents to the authorized bodies to obtain the necessary permits and licenses;
  • Obtaining a business license from the authorized body at IFZA/RAKEZ;
  • Opening a corporate bank account to manage company finances;
  • Obtaining resident visas.

How can Manimama help you?

Manimama is a law firm that always creates and provides its clients with original and quality solutions with long-term planning, risk control and minimum legal surprises.

Our lawyers can help you to open your own game development company in the IFZA and RAKEZ freezones in the UAE, obtain the appropriate license and successfully develop your business in the future.

Thus, Maninama lawyers are ready to:

  • advise you in choosing a freezone to open a company, taking into account the peculiarities and needs of your business
  • provide assistance in creating a corporate structure for opening a company, taking into account your needs and desires for further development
  • assist you in obtaining resident visas, drafting a memorandum of agreement, concluding a lease agreement to create a joint workspace
  • accompany you at all stages of company registration in the chosen jurisdiction, obtaining a license, which includes assistance in selecting activities to be included in the license and communication with authorized bodies
  • assist in opening bank accounts for the company, setting up the accounting department in accordance with all requirements in the chosen jurisdiction

In summary

Establishing a game development company in IFZA and RAKEZ in the UAE is beneficial, both considering the benefits of freeson in general and the special offers in each of them in particular. The ability to add multiple activities at once when obtaining a license without paying an additional fee opens up greater prospects for businesses to further develop and grow.

Contact us at and you will receive professional support and expert guidance on your way to successfully establishing a game development company in the UAE. Manimama guarantees an individual approach to each client, ensuring full compliance with the legislation and utmost convenience in the process of obtaining the license.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter, not to be considered as a legal consultation.

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