Although MNCs don’t necessarily need an office in a high-profile location, an address for regional headquarters in a major city such as Dubai is a statement of intent and an indication of success.

Major cities like Dubai provide best-in-class infrastructure as well as regional and international transport links, and bring companies closer to capital, regional partners and financial services companies. Also, being closer to one’s stakeholders fosters better and deeper relationships.

Despite more people working from home in the past two years as a result of Covid-19, an office remains integral to the identity of a business, and in tandem with people returning to offices, an increasing number of MNCs are viewing Dubai as the place to set up their headquarters.

Why MNCs are moving to Dubai

Having a physical location is important for companies now that almost three-quarters of workers are back in offices – but Dubai’s proposition goes far beyond office space.

This proposition includes higher-than-average salaries combined with an ultra-low taxation system for workers and corporations. Another key value proposition is Dubai’s lifestyle, which is world class but affordable. For example, Dubai is a less expensive city to live in than other major MEASA cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, according to a recent Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report by Julius Baer, specialists in wealth management. In the report’s top 24 most expensive cities in the world, Dubai is in 14th place – despite average price increases of 19% in the emirate post-Covid-19.

Building business connections in Dubai

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is the leading free zone in Dubai and is attracting top talent from around 150 nationalities.

DIFC offers an unparalleled environment to build connections with businesses and has a reputation as a hub of mergers and acquisitions. Meetings can be easily arranged as companies are in close proximity to one another. The business-friendly environment is a large part of Dubai’s appeal, with the English Common Law framework in DIFC offering stability and familiarity for many MNCs. There is no income tax for employees, corporation tax for businesses is low and customs duty is absent. In addition, the visa system presents a range of options to meet the needs of individuals.

DIFC has also provided flexibility to corporates allowing them to choose the working model that best meets their needs. There are opportunities for both traditional office working and hybrid models for when companies need less space on a full-time basis.

Some of the renowned MNCs with offices in DIFC include ExxonMobil, Merck, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, PetroChina, Petronas and Schamberger. MNCs recognise the advantages of increasing their presence throughout major cities by having more than one office. Many corporates have multiple offices across Dubai; for example, Nestlé has offices in DIFC and Dubai World Central, another free zone.  

To find out more about the benefits of opening a regional HQ in DIFC in Dubai, download the document on this page.