How Difficult Is to Find an Office for DIFC License

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A few insider’s tips on finding an office for DIFC license purposes

Setting up a company in Dubai Investment Financial Centre has many advantages for multinationals operating in the finance industry. Such companies can benefit from 100% ownership and are able to acquire real estate assets in all areas of Dubai. In addition, the status of the DIFC license was elevated to dual, enabling companies to operate on mainland as well. Of course, privileges are always associated with certain costs, and this is one of the reasons why office and retail space in DIFC commands high price tags.

At present, there is a multiple choice when it comes to finding an office for DIFC license, although there is only a handful commercial buildings in the area. The options include shell and core units, fitted spaces and even fully furnished and serviced offices. In terms of sizes, the availability ranges from 500 square foot to entire commercial floors. 

Usually, new entrants try to limit the risk associated with starting fresh, and therefore, smaller ready to move in offices are in higher demand. Companies with already established operations in the Middle East opt for larger spaces and often invest in such prime assets. Most of the properties in DIFC are considered prime assets, because of the free zone’s status, central location in the city and the high quality of the unique towers. 

Since 1st of January, a 5 per cent value added tax is applicable to all transactions related to commercial properties across Dubai. In comparison to other countries, the percentage is  relatively low and the VAT doesn’t really prevent financial companies from settling in DIFC.

Another important detail, in particular when it comes to buying property in DIFC, is that the transfer fee is 5 per cent, while in all other freehold areas of Dubai it is 4 per cent no matter the property type.

The rents and prices in DIFC vary from one building to another depending mainly on the quality of finishing and the competitiveness of the existing tenants. Convenience services are also of importance. Most of the buildings are already housing pharmacies, mini supermarkets, fitness centers and salons, along multiple food and beverage outlets. So, it is fairly easy for employees to go through the working hours and even to take care of  personal grooming. 

Finding an office for DIFC license is the first priority for companies planning to start operations in the free zone, because this is one of the mandatory requirements by the authority. The process of obtaining a DIFC license may stretch up to two months, but it depends greatly on the premise availability and suitability. If you plan to set up a company in DIFC, looking for an office is amongst the first three things to do.

*By Gergana Mineva, certified Senior Real Estate Consultant (RERA 31104) specializing in DIFC and Downtown. You may contact the author by email.

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