Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

Business Setup in Abu Dhabi
Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi, is a center for creativity and business. Its world-class infrastructure, business-friendly legislation, and advantageous geographic position make establishing a business in Abu Dhabi easier. 

Starting a business in Abu Dhabi can be a very attractive option for entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies in the Middle East.

Depending on the kind of business and the location, the setup process for a new company in Abu Dhabi is very straightforward and only takes a few days. Nevertheless, you may need the help of an enterprise set up consultant when the company is first starting out.

Types of Companies

Limited Liability Company 

One of the most popular forms of corporate business entities that firms and entrepreneurs can set up in the United Arab Emirates is a limited liability company (LLC). LLCs are frequently chosen by companies and entrepreneurs looking to enter the UAE market and create a strong presence in the Middle East due to their simple and rapid application process and extensive array of business incentives. 

Trade Representative Office

It could be a good idea to open a Trade Representative Office if your international business wants to gain exposure in the UAE market. As a non-trading “shop-window,” this kind of representation is helpful for marketing overseas businesses and introducing your goods to UAE enterprises. 

Branch Office

Because it can be 100% foreign-owned, opening a branch office of a foreign company in Abu Dhabi is simple and appealing to clients. All that is needed is to appoint a local National Service Agent (NSA) or Local Service Agent (LSA), such as PRO Partner Group. An extension of a foreign parent company that is not registered in the United Arab Emirates, a branch office is a fully-fledged corporation that is allowed to carry out contracts and other activities as outlined in its license. A Foreign Branch Office is limited to conducting business in a manner consistent with that of its parent corporation. 

Free zones in Abu Dhabi for business setup

Airport Free Zone in Abu Dhabi (ADAFZ)

Several of Abu Dhabi’s airports are included in the General ADAFZ free zone. It offers business parks, a logistics park, free zone amenities, and business centers at Al Bateen Executive Airport, Al Ain International Airport, and Abu Dhabi International Airport.


Generally speaking, companies that are permitted to establish in the ADAFZ generally fit into the following (not all-inclusive) categories:

Trade, assembly, and manufacturing; logistics, transportation, warehousing, distribution, and storage; marketing and events; MRO (maintenance and repair organization); regional headquarters; technology and ICT; trading, aviation, aerospace, aircraft interiors, airport services, and aircraft charter; import and export; in-flight catering; and flight support services.

ADGM, or Abu Dhabi Global Market

Late in 2015, General ADGM, a financial free zone, was founded. It is a jurisdiction governed by common law, meaning that the common laws of England and Wales serve as its foundation for rules and regulations. The only financial free zone in Abu Dhabi is called ADGM, and it was established the most recently. The commercial cases of ADGM corporations and other enterprises that choose to “opt in” can be heard by the ADGM Courts.


  • Financial operations include those related to banks, trust service providers, investment advisers, financial advisors, fintech, etc.;
  • Manufacturing is one example of a non-financial activity. civil engineering, lodging, real estate, accountancy and law, marketing, advertising, consulting, teaching, and social work initiatives, among other fields;
  • The manufacturing of goods like jewelry, beverages, and food products is included in retail.

“Masdar City” or the Masdar City Free Zone

Founded in 2006, General Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) seeks to position the United Arab Emirates as a leader in renewable energy and urban sustainability worldwide. Its goal is to make sustainable solutions commercially feasible by expanding the UAE’s participation in the clean energy and renewable energy industries. Situated just outside of Abu Dhabi’s capital, Masdar City Free Zone is an economic hub centered in the urban community of Masdar City.


The following categories (which are not all-inclusive) roughly describe the approved activities at Masdar City in accordance with Masdar’s mandate:

  • the energy sector; 
  • clean technology and ICT;
  •  the oil and gas services

The “twofour54” Media & Entertainment Hub

The goal of Abu Dhabi’s Twofour54 media-free zone is to develop a creative and media hub. It is a key supporter of the growth of local talent and content, and it is the driving force behind Abu Dhabi’s development as a filmmaking location.


Generally speaking, twofour54 only works in the creative media industry. The following are a few of the activities: advertising, animation, branding, content production – audiovisual, corporate, digital, publishing; event management; game development; graphic design; news collecting services; content administration and monitoring services; content portal management;

Steps for Business Setup in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE has business-friendly policies. Both domestic and foreign investment is encouraged by the government. In Abu Dhabi, establishing a business is simple and free of never-ending red tape.

The processes listed below can be followed by investors who wish to open a business in Abu Dhabi: 

Commercial Operations 

Identifying the company or commercial activity is the first stage. The type of business you run will determine the specific legal requirements and licensing expenses. In the United Arab Emirates, there are six categories of business licenses: commercial, industrial, tourist, professional, agricultural, and occupational. The legal procedure can begin as soon as you have chosen the type of business to operate.

Entry-level Registration

Choosing a trade name is an essential stage in the process of starting a business in Abu Dhabi. After selecting a name, you must register it with the emirate’s Department of Economic Development (DED). Nevertheless, if a company name doesn’t fit the following requirements, it could be turned down:

  • The suggested name cannot be inconsistent with morality or public order.
  • No names of governing bodies, religions, outside bodies, or logos may appear in the name.
  • Any distinctive name, such as EST, PrJSC, etc., must be followed by the abbreviation, which is the company’s legal form. 
  • The suggested company activity and the name must mesh. 
  • The name ought to be original and shouldn’t have already been registered by another company.

First Approval

Establishing a firm in Abu Dhabi is initially approved by the DED with the acquisition of a trade name certificate. An investor is able to apply for a business license with this initial approval.

The nature of business determines which authority is relevant for permissions. Additionally, clearance from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) is required for foreign investors.


There is a Memorandum of Association required for the following legal kinds of businesses:

  • Limited liability company (LLC) Limited partnership
  • Open joint-stock business (PJSC)
  • Exclusive joint-stock business (PrJSC)
  • Courts, UAE-based legal firms, and notaries public prepare and attest the MoAs and any similar agreements. 

Non-residents of the GCC are required to have a local service agent employed by their business. The court or a notary public attests to the agreement between the two parties. 

Business License Issuance

After completing all of the aforementioned procedures for establishing a business in Abu Dhabi, you can pick up your business license from the Economic Departments’ service centers. Additionally, the license is available on their websites. All of the following paperwork must be submitted in order to obtain a license:

  • Receipt of the initial approval
  • Every document that has already been submitted
  • A properly authenticated copy of the leasing agreement from the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA)
  • Memorandum of Association properly attested (for all company types)
  • Clearances from additional governmental agencies
  • Service agent agreement with proper attestation (for civil establishments owned 100 percent by non-citizens of the GCC). Local service agents are also involved in this.

How to start an online Business Setup in Abu Dhabi?

The United Arab Emirates’ government launched Bashr, a single internet platform. Using this service, you may launch an internet business in Abu Dhabi in fifteen minutes. Bashr has connections to federal and local government agencies that offer services related to commercial licenses.

It’s not even necessary for residents of Abu Dhabi to attend the service centers. Investors may instead apply online for a commercial license. To apply for the license, go to the UAE Emirates’ Government Portal official website.

In Summary

All the rules and processes needed to create and maintain a business entity in the United Arab Emirates are made easier by Dubai Business Setup, including commercial registration, professional corporate nominee services (if needed), staff and family visas, and work permits.

We make it possible for more enterprises to benefit from the thriving Middle Eastern economy, having helped develop over 1000 companies in the region.


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