Why set up a company in Abu Dhabi?

The United Arab Emirates encourages foreign investors and locals to set up business across the Emirates. Among all the Emirates, Abu Dhabi has gained the interest and attention of foreign investors and entrepreneurs for its accessibility, simple company registration or company setup procedures against the backdrop of world class infrastructure.

 Abu Dhabi is one of the safest, fastest growing and affluent markets in the world. If you are in possession of a viable business plan and wish to start your business in the Emirates, Abu Dhabi is the city for you to establish your business. The rules and procedures are transparent and only takes a few days for completion if all the requirements are met and procedures accomplished.

Types of Company Formation

As a business investor, there are two possibilities to incorporate in Abu Dhabi. In Free Zone company incorporation, the business owner can have 100% of the firm or an organization where they can have a local partner. In the case of having a local partner, only 49% of the company will belong to the foreign business owner/investor. For companies in the Free Zone area, following are the available registration process:

Free Zone LLC Company

  • A Professional Services Company or Free Zone Establishment
  • A Branch Office of both local and foreign companies.
  • A Representative Office.

The other types of companies open for registration in Abu Dhabi are:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General and Limited Partnerships
  • Private and Public Joint Stock Companies
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Subsidiaries

Advantages of  setting up a new business as a free zone

Investors that choose to start business as a free zone company can enjoy numerous benefits, including the following:

  • Absolute company ownership
  • Freedom from corporate and income tax
  • Complete repatriation of profits
  • Independent rules and regulations
  • Freedom from customs duties

Procedures for Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

Below are the steps to be followed for starting a company in Abu Dhabi.

  1. Determine the Type of Economic Activity

It behoves you to gain a clear understanding of your intended business activity before initiating the procedures, since legal procedures and fees may vary depending on the nature of your business.

  1. Find a Local Sponsor

As per the UAE jurisdiction, foreign companies need a local sponsor to open a branch office in Abu Dhabi, who will facilitate the necessary licenses for the branch office without bearing any liability to capital contribution or losses.

  1. Determine the Legal Form of Business

Rules and regulations are different for different ownership types and business establishments. You need to select a legal entity type to run your business under.

  1. Register Your Trade Name

A trade name distinguishes a business and represents its nature and legal form. 

  1. Fulfill Licensing Requirements

The various types of licenses issued by the Abu Dhabi licensing authority are:

  • Agricultural License
  • Commercial License
  • Industrial License
  • Professional License
  • Tourism License
  • Vocational License

6. Get Special Approvals

A foreign investor is required to obtain approvals from the following authorities:

  • Abu Dhabi Customs Authority
  • Abu Dhabi Distribution Company
  • Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC)
  • Abu Dhabi Foo/d Control Authority
  • Central Bank
  • Medical Council
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Health
  • Ministry of Civil Aviation
  • Ministry of Economy
  • Supreme Petroleum Council
  • Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
  1. Obtain the Initial Approval

An approval from General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Abu Dhabi (GDRFA) is compulsory for foreign investors before getting the initial approval. An initial approval certificate is required to continue with the business licensing formalities that permit foreign nationals to practice their desired business activity in Abu Dhabi.