Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

UAE has a very strong economy with the second-largest economy in the GCC nations. Following the pandemic scenario, the country has recovered and is back on track for growth and the expected growth rate for the year 2022 is 4.3% which is almost double from last year’s growth rate of 2.1%

Abu Dhabi is one of the best locations for setting up a business as it has easier connections to markets in different countries and also it has its own fast-growing market. The process of business setup in Abu Dhabi is fairly easy and simple and also it takes only a few days to set up a new business in Abu Dhabi, depending upon the type of business and the location, however, you might require the assistance of a business set up consultant during the inception of the business.


Business Setup Cost in Abu Dhabi

Here is a table describing the tentative Business Setup Costs in Abu Dhabi.

Incorporation Duration Price (AED)
Starts from
Company Type Accounting Corporate
VAT Visa
Women Entrepreneurship License 2 Weeks 9,000 Free Zone No* 0%   --   Yes
Professional License 2-3 Weeks 10,000 Mainland (DED) No* 0% 5% Yes
Commercial License 2-3 Weeks 10,000 Mainland (DED) No* 0% 5% Yes
Kizad Free Zone 3 Weeks 11,550 Free Zone No* 0%   -- Yes
Branch of a foreign firm 2-3 Weeks 24,000 Mainland (DED) Yes 0%   -- Yes
ADGM 4-6 Weeks 27,000 Free Zone Yes 0%   -- Yes
TwoFour54 Free Zone 4-6 Weeks 31,000 Free Zone Yes 0%   -- Yes

*Audited financials are not an explicit requirement during renewal. However, it is to be produced upon request by relevant authorities.

**Both Masdar and Kizad have got different packages that offer different visa allocation - please contact us to know more about it.

Why Set Up New Business in Abu Dhabi?

There are many different advantages of business setup in Abu Dhabi. It is one of the most prosperous places in the United Arab Emirates and provides a safe haven for businesses coming in from all over the world. This place also has various transparent and flexible business setup processes. Here are some of the benefits of starting a business in Abu Dhabi:

  • The location Abu Dhabi plays a vital role in making it one of the best places for setting up a business as it occupies a prominent location between Europe, Asia, and Africa thus allowing it access to the markets abroad.
  • Abu Dhabi Government allows for 100% foreign ownership and provides an exemption from corporate and personal income tax making it a very lucrative emirate to set up a business.
  • There are no restrictions such as foreign exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers that can hinder the business of anyone.
  • The living standards in Abu Dhabi are top-notch, with world-class facilities in healthcare, residences, recreation, education, and transportation making it not only suitable for businesses but also as a residential location.

Types of Business Formation in Abu Dhabi

Commitbiz is conversant with the company formation laws and regulations in Abu Dhabi and can help you set up your business here, availing the required licenses. You can choose between Free Zone business setup Abu Dhabi or Business Setup in Abu Dhabi Mainland

Free Zone Company Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi free zone provides a number of business opportunities in different business sectors. Free Zone company formation in Abu Dhabi offers single-window administration which means that a businessman can submit all the necessary information and details to a single agency and is authorized as an independent jurisdiction which allows an expatriate businessperson to have complete ownership of the company (100 %). Abu Dhabi Free Zone authority provides a perfect gateway for the smooth registration of companies in the Emirate.

Free zones in Abu Dhabi issue licenses:-

  • Commercial Trading Business
  • Consultancy Business
  • Branch of a Foreign Company

Mainland Company Abu Dhabi

A Mainland can be defined as a geographical area that is outside of a Free Zone and which falls under the UAE government. These commercialised areas have the option to trade within the mainland but cannot make a trade in the Free Zones. They have regularized policies and legal guidelines, which makes the emirate one of the most developed economies in the UAE. A mainland company in Abu Dhabi can carry out business across the UAE and now with an amendment in the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) which was applicable from 1 June 2021, the UAE government will allow Expats to hold 100% ownership of the Business. Earlier the ownership of a company was only 49% by the ex-pat and the rest by a local sponsor.

How to Start a Business in Abu Dhabi

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi can be a very beneficial decision as the business will have access to the markets of various regions and also there will be ample and expert workforce which will assist in business setup in Abu Dhabi but an error during the setup process and can result in future problems for the business. This is why it is necessary for a business to take the assistance of a business set up consultant such as Commitbiz.

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

1. Determine the Type of Economic Activities

It is very important to understand the type of business activity is to be performed by the business. This will help in understanding all the requirements to be fulfilled by the company, both legally and also economically. It will also help in understanding which licenses will be required for conducting the business activity without any hindrance.

2. Find a Local Sponsor

As per the UAE jurisdiction, foreign companies need a local sponsor (a service agent or a company owned by UAE nationals) to open a branch office in Abu Dhabi. A local sponsor will facilitate the necessary licenses for the branch office without bearing any liability to capital contribution or losses. With the recent amendment, the requirement of a local sponsor has been limited to only certain sectors. You can consult our business setup experts to know more about the requirement of a Local Sponsor.

3. Determine the Legal Form of Business

Rules and regulations are different for different ownership types and business establishments. Before establishing a business the management needs to first figure out which is the business structure that will be the most suitable for the business.

4. Register Your Trade Name

Registering a trading name is very important for a business as once registered the trade name cannot be used by any other organization in the country. We help our clients in not only setting up a business in Abu Dhabi but also in registering a trading name from the list of registered trade names provided by the Department of Economic Development (DED).

5. Fulfil Licensing Requirements

Apart from licenses, there are many other permits and approvals required and in order to start a business, the management needs to acquire them.

6. Obtain the Initial Approval

It is necessary for the foreign businessman to get approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi before starting a process to set up a business. We help our clients get all the necessary approvals from the concerned officials, including the DED, and help them pay legal the fee for getting a business license issued.

7. Get Special Approvals

Many businesses require special approvals or permits which can be obtained after contacting the relevant authorities.

To get a greater idea about setting up a business, have a look at our Complete guide on Business setup in Abu Dhabi

Benefits of Starting a Business in Abu Dhabi

The procedure of how to start a small business in Abu Dhabi can be very simple if all the requirements are known. There are also many benefits of doing business in Abu Dhabi and having an understanding of the advantages can give a push needed for actually doing business in Abu Dhabi. A few benefits of setting up a business in Abu Dhabi are mentioned below-

  • For LLC registration in Abu Dhabi, it is easy to acquire an Emirates trade license, local visas, renting premises, and open a bank account from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Abu Dhabi
  • The investor can become a partner in the firm
  • The investor can run the business without the day-to-day interference of the local, national partner
  • Abundant and inexpensive supply of energy for the business
  • Competitive freight charges in comparison to other emirates
  • Competitive real estate costs in comparison to other emirates
  • Easy to open global corporate bank accounts

With these advantages, it is very lucrative for a businessman to setup a business in Abu Dhabi. But it may be possible that a foreigner investing for the first time in Abu Dhabi may not know where to invest and earn profits. Hence, having a proper understanding of the emirates and also the markets of Abu Dhabi is very important to make profits.

Our Business Setup Services in Abu Dhabi

It can be challenging to go through all these steps alone in a foreign land. Hence it is advised to get help from company formation consultants in Abu Dhabi. We at Commitbiz are business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi and can help you with the following business setup services in Abu Dhabi:

  • Business registration
  • Local sponsorship
  • Public Relations Officer (PRO) services
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Auditing
  • Tax consulting
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) registration
  • Legal advisory
  • Setting up a branch office in Abu Dhabi
  • Intellectual property protection

If you are looking for business setup services in Abu Dhabi, contact us – we'll be glad to assist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is Abu Dhabi a good place to setup a Business?

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi is a very good option as it has been ranked 16 out of 190 economies for Ease of doing Business and also provides many business opportunities for entrepreneurs. There is more focus on different sectors such as Tourism, Hospitality, Retail, Manufacturing, etc.

2. Is a foreigner allowed to start a business in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, a foreigner has the option to start his own business in the Mainland or in the Free zone. You can take the assistance of a Business Setup Consultant to better understand the current market.

3. How can you start a business in Abu Dhabi?

The steps to start a business in Abu Dhabi are as follows:
• Determine type of activity
• Find Local Sponsor (if required)
• Determine form of business to be used
• Register your Trade Name
• Complete Licensing Requirements
• Obtain all required Approvals

4. Can you have 100% ownership of a company in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, Activities like Trading, Manufacturing, Contracting and Packaging are eligible for 100% ownership.

5. Can setting up a business in Abu Dhabi be beneficial for a Freelancer?

Yes, Abu Dhabi provides many business opportunities and also various tax benefits for freelancers.