Can a new arrival to city drive a car?

By Hamdan Al Harmi

Published: Sun 14 Aug 2005, 10:28 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:13 PM

I AM an Arab expatriate and I arrived in Dubai on a work permit. My employer is currently processing the necessary procedures to have the visa stamped on my passport. Do I have the right to use my international driving licence I hold to drive a car here? Or should I wait till the necessary formalities are gone through and then apply for a driving test to get the UAE driving licence?

Answer: According to existing traffic rules, people who are on visas other than work permit such as visit visas, and hold an international driving licence can drive rented cars or cars owned by others provided that the international driving licence they hold is valid.

You cannot use your international driving licence since you entered the country on a work permit. You will have to wait for the visa formalities to be completed and then apply for the driving test.

Starting a business

WHAT does the UAE laws say about a person working for a firm in a free zone in the country wishing to invest in a business in one of the emirates? Can a person start a business alone or in partnership while working for a free zone firm? If so, what are the legal requirements that need to be completed?

Answer: An expat working in the free zone is allowed to invest and open an establishment without the need for a national partner. However, he has to have a written approval from the free zone. Also, he should ensure that the economic activity he gets into does not require a national partner. The company should be one of the following types:

(A) An individual establishment wherein one is allowed to set up an individual establishment to practice a professional activity provided he has a UAE national as a 'local agent' in the business licence.

(B) Civil works company wherein two or more expatriates are allowed to set up a company for civil works to provide professional activity, provided they have a UAE national as a 'local agent,' who can also be a partner in the business.

The 'local agent' is not a partner. Having a local agent is mandatory under the law for the issuance of licences for certain types of economic activities. The local agent's role and obligations towards the founder of the business is limited to just providing the experience of the ordinary person to enable better practice of the business without any civil or financial responsibilities towards the business or other.

His obligations, for example, include assisting in the issuance and renewal of the profession's licence, issuance and renewal of the needed work permits with the relevant government and semi-government departments.

(C) All companies in the free zone are limited liability companies and there are three types — FZCO L.L.C., FZE L.L.C. and Off-Shore L.L.C. companies.

Each free zone has its own procedures to set up of an individual establishment (Profession Licence) or a civil works company.

However, the legal procedures in general are as following:

  • Ensure that the targeted activities comes under profession
  • Specify the legal form of the establishment. The type of the establishment is specified in accordance with the its activity
  • Specify the commercial name of the establishment
  • Then apply to the relevant Department of Economic Development to obtain necessary go-ahead permission
  • Register the commercial name after obtaining the go-ahead permission
  • Rent the needed premises to practice the business
  • Prepare all needed documents such as the establishment contract, contract for appointing a local which should be authenticated by the notary public
  • Apply to the relevant Department of Economic Development to obtain the final licence.

Hamdan Al Harmi is an Advocate and Legal Consultant from Emirates Advocates. He can be contacted at Readers who have legal queries may email there questions to or post them to Khaleej Times P.O. box 11243 to "Ask the Law" column. Khaleej Times will forward the questions to the lawyer.

— Compiled by Eman Al Baik

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