Abu Dhabi is undoubtedly one of the best places to start a business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is strategically located between Europe, Asia and Africa giving access to the global markets.
Freezone and Mainland
An entrepreneur can start a business either in the Free Zone or Mainland depending on the type of activity or venture. Free Zone provides single window clearance and allows 100% foreign ownership in the business. Mainland company is outside the Free Zone and directly comes under the UAE government. They are allowed to do business with companies across UAE but not with Free Zone companies. However, with an amendment to Commercial Companies Law, it is now possible for expatriates to own 100% of a business in Mainland Abu Dhabi. The first step in the formation of a company is to determine the business activities that you will undertake. It is based on it that appropriate licenses have to be applied for. There are over 2000 designated business activities specified by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED).
Types of Licenses
The following are the various licences provided to businesses in Abu Dhabi- commercial, industrial, tourism, agricultural, professional and occupational. Licensing fees and legal requirements vary depending on the nature of your business. Commercial licenses are provided for trading, industrial licenses for manufacturing and production, professional licenses are provided for various professional services including medical, design, architectural, technical consultancy among others and tourism licenses are given for inbound, outbound tours and hospitality services.
The following are the entities permitted for establishing a business in Abu Dhabi:
1) General Partnership 2) Limited Partnership 3) Limited Liability Company (LLC), 4) Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC), 5) Private Joint Stock Company (PrJSC), 6) Civil Company 7) Local Company Branch 8) GCC Company Branch 9) Foreign Company Branch 10) Free Zone Company Branch 11) Sole Establishment 12) Holding Companies.
Registering the Trade Name
A trade name has to be registered with the Department of Economic Development (DED). It has to follow some stipulations or criteria provided by the government. Trade names that violate public order or public morals will not be allowed. So are trade names that contain governing authority names, names of religion or external body names. All names should be followed by the acronym that stands for the legal status of the company, such as LLC, EST, PrJSC etc. The name should be compatible with the proposed business activity.
The Department of Economic Development (DED) provides initial approval for new businesses on registration of a trading name. This enables an entrepreneur to apply for a business licence. Foreign nationals may have to get approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
Apart from receiving approvals from DED, some additional approvals may be required for certain types of businesses. These approvals are provided online. The list includes Waste Management Centre, Supreme Petroleum Council, General Directorate of Civil Defense, Department of Transport, Environment Health and Safety Centre, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abu Dhabi Center for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry
All businesses set up in Abu Dhabi by UAE nationals or foreign nationals must take membership of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This is applicable for a sole proprietorship, representatives of branches and companies.
Abu Dhabi offers infrastructure and ease of doing business that entrepreneurs can fully utilise to build a successful venture. There is an abundant supply of energy, competitive freight and real estate costs and ease of opening bank accounts. If you are looking forward to starting a business in Abu Dhabi, YouFirst can help you with the business set up services