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How to start a business in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)

Start a Business in Abu Dhabi Global Market

How to start a business in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)


ADGM Background

Abu Dhabi Global Market is an award-winning international financial centre and free zone located on Al Maryah Island in the heart of Abu Dhabi. Its strategic location helps to serve the growing economies of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Since the time it came into operations in 2015, it has gained immense global recognition for its robust, progressive and responsive business-friendly ecosystem. Besides, it is an ideal location for businesses operating in the financial sector, particularly private banking, wealth management, insurance and asset management.

Some of the compelling reasons to consider setting up a company in ADGM are 0% corporate and personal tax, 100% company ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, 100% import and export tax exemption and no currency restrictions.

Legal Framework of ADGM

The ADGM free zone is governed by its own rules and regulations and is controlled by three independent authorities – the Registration Authority, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority and the ADGM Courts.

ADGM came into existence in accordance with Federal Legislation and Abu Dhabi Legislation including Abu Dhabi Law No. 4 of 2013 with its own civil and commercial laws. The free zone offers a world-class legal system and regulatory regime.

Setting Up in ADGM

The four broad categories of businesses that can set up in ADGM are financial businesses, non-financial businesses, retail and Special Purpose Vehicles. Let us see each category in detail.

1. Financial Business

As an International Financial Centre, ADGM offers a conducive environment to financial businesses along with the geographical advantage of serving growing economies. Let us see, which type of companies can set-up under financial business.

  • Corporate and transaction banking
  • Private banking and wealth management
  • Investment banking
  • Money service business
  • Digital banking
Wealth and asset management
  • Investment management
  • Funds and fund management
  • Asset servicing
  • Virtual assets activities
  • Securities
Capital markets
  • Brokerage
  • Market infrastructure
  • FinTech
  • RegLab

2. Non-Financial Business

Along with financial businesses, ADGM also provides a legal and operational platform for non-financial businesses. Let us see, which type of companies can set-up in ADGM under non-financial business.

  • Corporate headquarters
  • Corporate treasury
  • Family offices and foundations
  • Professional services
  • Tech start-ups
  • Associations

3. Retail

ADGM also offers a dynamic environment for retail businesses. Some of the permitted retail activities in Al Maryah Island include wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, transportation and storage, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, accommodation and food service activities, scientific and technical activities, information and communication, arts, entertainment and recreation and administrative support service activities, among others.

4. Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)

SPVs are passive holding companies that come into existence with an intention of isolating financial and legal risk by ring-fencing certain assets and liabilities. The SPV regime at ADGM

Procedure to Set-up in ADGM

If you are looking to set-up in ADGM, there are various options available for you. You can incorporate as a business limited by shares where you will need at least 2 directors, or you can open a branch of the company which is already established in the UAE or any other foreign country.

When you decide to set-up in ADGM, you will be required to fill up an online application form through ADGM online registry solutions. You can also opt to apply offline by paying some extra fees.

The ADGM registration process is as follows:

  • Before filling and submitting the business application form, you will be provided with a special business development team to discuss the requirements of your business.
  • After receiving the approval from the authorities, you need to fill up the online registration or incorporation form and submit the required documents mentioned in the form.
  • On receiving approval, you will be issued a commercial license within a week.
  • In order to proceed with the visa processing, you need to apply for a FAWRI account and Establishment Card.

So, this was a brief process of setting up a business in ADGM. However, the specifics of the process largely depend on the kind of business you wish to carry on, type of license and so on. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an expert who can guide you through the entire process and ensure smooth and timely incorporation.

For any assistance related to business set up and allied services in ADGM free zone, you may get in touch with IMC Group.


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