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SHAMS Free Zone Business Setup

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The Sharjah Media City (SHAMS) Free Zone offers business and creative opportunities for investors all over the globe.

Built in 2017, SHAMS was launched by the Emirati government to boost trade and economic activity in an already vibrant Sharjah. This Free Zone is about a 5-minute drive from Sharjah International Airport and a 15-minute drive from Dubai International Airport.

As a Free Zone, the Media Hub is bustling with solutions for creators, traders, and media businesses.

A company set up in SHAMS Free Zone is all about licenses.

The zonal authorities, aka the SHAMS Free Zone authority issue licenses to businesses in the media, tech, and other creative industries. The Free Zone is designated to become a major media hub for Sharjah in the coming years.

Are you looking to start a business in Sharjah Media City Free Zone? This guide will help walk you through the process of company setup. From what documents you’ll need to how much it will cost, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s get started!

How to Set up a Company in SHAMS Free Zone?

Setting up a business at SHAMS Free Zone is relatively easy, and can be completed in the following steps:

Step 01: Choose Your Business Activity

Visit the online portal of SHAMS Free Zone, and decide the type of business you’re going to do. The website has a list of business license options ranging from industrial, trade, holding, and service licenses.

Step 02: Select your Prefered Office Space

Next up, you need to figure out what kind of office you’ll be needing. Will it be a shared desk or a dedicated desk office?

Step 03: Apply for Documents for your Business Setup

Submit all the documents to the zonal authorities for business setup in SHAMS Free Zone. This process can be completed either by you or through a consultancy service.

Step 04: Apply for Licenses for your Business

When your application is approved, you’ll have to make payments. With that, you get payment confirmation, and the time required for license processing.

Once your license is verified, you can collect it and start your operations.

Documents Required for Setting up a Company at SHAMS Free Zone

To get started with setting up a company in the SHAMS Free Zone, you would need the following documents:

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Board resolution to establish a new branch
  • Board resolution giving signatory authorization or Power of attorney for the third party
  • Certificate of good standing
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Articles of Association (AOA)
  • Board resolution to establish a new company
  • Valid trade license
  • Supporting documents:
  • Passport copy of the individual shareholder
  • Passport copy of the Director and the Company Secretary
  • Passport copy and UAE visa of the General Manager

Cost of Setting up A SHAMS Free Zone Company

The costs are relatively less compared to other Free Zones within the UAE. However, if you’re looking for brick by brick analysis of the costs of setting up a SHAMS Free Zone company, then we’ll illustrate it for you:

1. General Trading Setup Cost

General Trading License (0 visas) 
SHAMS License FeeAED 16,500
General Trading license (1 visa) 
SHAMS license feeAED 16,500
Immigration Card (Valid for 3 years)AED 1,500
Lease Agreement- Shared DeskAED 3,675
Visa allocation (per visa)  AED 1,600
TotalAED 23,275  

2. Visa Related Costs

The foreign investor requires visas before or during the SHAMS Free Zone company setup process is underway. Mentioned below are the types of visas available and the costs involved.

3. E-Channel Registration

Registration FeeAED 5000
Refundable DepositAED 2150
TotalAED 7,150

** Annual Renewal at AED 1150

Investor/ Partner Visa

Residency VisaAED 5,075
Change of statusAED 1,055
Emirates IDAED 370
Medical testNormalVIP
AED 302AED 857

Employment Visa

Residency VisaAED 4,655
Change of statusAED 1,055
Emirates IDAED 370
Medical testNormalVIP
AED 302AED 857

4. Commercial Company Setup Cost

Commercial License (0 visa allocation)

SHAMS License FeeAED 11,500

Commercial License (1 Visa)

SHAMS License FeeAED 11,500
Immigration Card (Valid 3 years)AED 1,500
Lease agreement – Shared DeskAED 3,675
Visa allocation (per visa)AED 1,600
TotalAED 18,275

Advantages of Company formation in SHAMS Free Zone

Freezones in the emirates are a haven of opportunity for business professionals. Built on the already stable foundation of the UAE, they attract a variety of investments, entrepreneurial ventures, and corporations from all across the globe.

  • It’s a five-minute drive from Sharjah Airport and 15 minutes from Dubai International Airport.
  • Complete foreign ownership of your company.
  • You don’t have to fly to the Emirates to set up a company.
  • Limited liability status for all companies.
  • You can create a corporate hierarchy.
  • Complete repatriation of profits and capital.
  • VAT-Free Zone. No personal and corporate taxes.
  • Up-front deposits are not required.
  • Allowance for upto six visas.

Instead of general business and trade activities, SHAMS focuses solely on media and creative business investments for entrepreneurs and businesses the world over.

What Activities Are Allowed and Not Allowed for a SHAMS Free Zone Company Setup?

SHAMS provides a list of businesses that are allowed. SHAMS, in particular, offers over 120 business activities to pick from and allows you to mix and match activities on the same license. The official website has a range of these which we’ll mention below.

  1. Media businesses: For example, printing and reproduction of recorded media.

2. Wholesale and retail business: The business zone facilitates wholesale and retail business operations from household goods to automotive sales.

3. Services and consultancy businesses: Plumbing, financial, construction, and many other aspects of the service industry are allowed in the SHAMS Free Zone.

Any businesses not explicitly mentioned on the official website’s listing aren’t allowed at SHAMS.

SHAMS Free Zone Licensing Options

The types of licenses issued during the Sharjah Media City company setup process are as follows:

  1. Services license: Allows for providing services and the use of various goods to deliver various services.
  2. Trading license: Allows for the import/export of goods within the region. Includes both wholesale and retail business licenses under the business activities mentioned above.
  3. Industrial licenses: Allows for the setup of production plants in the region.

The licenses cover all the business activities allowed in the SHAMS Free Zone. Under a single license, you can have multiple business activities. For example, within the license of the service, you can add two or three service businesses.

To verify your license’s verification status, you can visit SHAMS’ license inquiry page.

Pros & Cons of Company Formation In  SHAMS Free Zone

The SHAMS Free Zone offers a ton of benefits to its investors, whether foreign or local, right from the get-go. To list them down:


  1. A wide range of business activities are available, varying the investing pool to all sorts of operations.
  2. Quick and effective visa procedures, and business registration setup at SHAMS.
  3. Complete documentation of your business will be issued to you
  4. Setup rates are cheaper compared to the other Free Zones in the region
  5. No business deposits
  6. Visas for yourself and business partners alike (total of six visas accepted)
  7. Complete incorporation of your business processes within the United Arab Emirates
  8. Zero corporate taxes (VAT Free Zone)
  9. Foreigners can enjoy complete ownership of their company
  10. Close-by to the airport


  1. Confined to a single Free Zone and no other markets.
  2. If business expansion to other UAE markets is a possibility, then Free Zones are quite restrictive if the zone’s authorities don’t allow it.
  3. Caters to only the media and creative sectors.

Alternative SHAMS Free Zones

FAQs About SHAMS Free Zone Company Formation

How is SHAMS Free Zone renewal done?

You don’t have to undergo audits and check-ups for the renewal of your SHAMS Free Zone licenses. All you have to do is pay the fees for renewal and submit the signed lease agreement.

How to make any amendments?

All you have to do is notify authorities with respective forms and documentation that you want to make amendments to your licenses or activities. Changes should be made within ten business days unless stated otherwise. The complete license amendment process is mentioned in the document issued by the Sharjah Media City zonal authorities.

What to do in case of closure?

To close your business, you need to submit a closing application through the member portal. The application will be reviewed, and afterward, a business closure will be announced in a local Arabic newspaper. The Zonal authorities will then file the final termination of the company.


A company set up in the SHAMS Free Zone is an ideal choice for investors all over the globe. SHAMS, in particular, because of its media focus, is slowly on the path to becoming equivalent to silicon valley in the Middle East.

For smart investors, SHAMS Free Zone offers a variety of opportunities. So don’t be late. Invest today!