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Company Formation in Abu Dhabi​

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has seen remarkable economic growth in recent years to become a hub for business and commerce in the region. In fact, recent stats show that Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy expanded by 8.6% in 9 months of 2023 which in turn had a notable surge impact on foreign investment.

Company formation in Abu Dhabi is a straightforward process, with various business structures available to suit different needs. Whether you’re looking to set up a small startup or a large corporation, Abu Dhabi’s business-friendly environment makes it an attractive destination for investors from around the world. The city’s infrastructure, skilled workforce, and access to global markets make it an ideal location for businesses looking to establish a presence in the Middle East.

If you’re considering company formation in Abu Dhabi, you’ve come to the right place. We at Shuraa Business Setup will guide you through the company formation process in Abu Dhabi, the costs involved, license requirements, and other essential steps involved in setting up your company in the heart of this dynamic business landscape.

But first, let’s understand why Abu Dhabi is a dream destination for many entrepreneurs.

Why Set up a Company in Abu Dhabi? 

What exactly makes setting up a business in Abu Dhabi so attractive? Here are the key benefits and opportunities that await you:

1. Thriving Economy and Strategic Location

Abu Dhabi boasts a diversified and growing economy, no longer solely reliant on oil. With a GDP that has consistently increased by 2.8% annually in recent years, it presents a stable and fertile ground for businesses to flourish. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa makes it an ideal gateway to access a vast regional market.

2. Tax Haven

The UAE, and Abu Dhabi by extension, offers a business-friendly tax environment. There is no personal income tax, and many businesses benefit from low or zero corporate tax rates, depending on the type of business and its location within free zones.

3. Business-Friendly Environment

The government has implemented a number of policies to make it easy to do business in Abu Dhabi, including streamlined regulations, free zones with special benefits, and 100% foreign ownership in certain sectors.

4. World-Class Infrastructure

Abu Dhabi has invested heavily in infrastructure development, including world-class transportation, communication, and logistics networks. This makes it an efficient and cost-effective place to operate a business.

5. Diverse Opportunities

Abu Dhabi isn’t limited to a single industry. The emirate actively supports a wide range of sectors, from energy and technology to tourism and healthcare, which provides plenty of opportunities for various business ventures.

Types of Business Entities in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi offers a variety of business structures to cater to your specific needs and goals. 

1. Mainland

Operating within the general UAE legal framework, mainland companies offer greater flexibility in terms of business activities. However, some restrictions exist, such as the requirement for a local partner (UAE national) for certain business activities.

Limited Liability Company (LLC) Mainland is a popular choice among entrepreneurs. It offers limited liability protection to shareholders, meaning their personal assets are shielded from business debts. At least two shareholders are required, with a minimum capital requirement.

Depending on your business activity and ownership requirements, other mainland structures like sole proprietorships (for UAE nationals only) and public/private shareholding companies might be an option.

2. Free Zone Companies

Free zones are designated areas within Abu Dhabi that offer a range of benefits, including:

  • 100% Foreign Ownership: You can own your company entirely without a local partner.
  • Tax Exemptions: Free zones typically offer tax exemptions on corporate income and import/export duties.
  • Simplified Regulations: Streamlined business setup processes and less stringent regulations make free zones attractive for quick entry into the market.

Here are the two main free zone company structures

  • Free Zone Company (FZC): This is a limited liability company established within a free zone.
  • Free Zone Establishment (FZE): Similar to an FZC, but with a sole owner.

Company Formation Process in Abu Dhabi

Here’s the step-by-step company formation process in Abu Dhabi:

1. Identify Your Business Activity

The first step is to clearly define the core activities your company will undertake in Abu Dhabi. Researching relevant regulations and licensing requirements for your chosen activity is crucial.

2. Select Your Business Structure

Consider factors like ownership needs, location preferences, and tax benefits to choose between a mainland company (LLC or other structures) or a free zone company. Consider consulting with our business setup expert in Abu Dhabi to discuss which business structure would be suitable for your business.

3. Register Your Trade Name

Reserve your desired company name with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). Submitting a few alternative names for approval is recommended.

4. Prepare Required Documents

The exact documents needed will vary depending on your chosen structure. However, some common requirements include:

  • Passport copies and visas of shareholders and directors
  • Proof of business address (e.g., lease agreement)
  • Proof of share capital deposit (for mainland LLCs)
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA), if required
  • Completed application form

5. Apply for Business License

Submit your application for the appropriate business license(s) to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the relevant free zone authority. Secure special permits if your business activities are regulated by specific government bodies (e.g., health, education).

6. Pay Fees and Collect Licenses

Once your application is approved, you’ll need to pay the required government fees and collect your official business licenses.

7. Opening a Corporate Bank Account

Choose a bank and open a corporate bank account in Abu Dhabi. Deposit the required share capital into the bank account if applicable.

8. Visa Requirements

Depending on your chosen structure and role in the company, you might need to obtain business visas for yourself and your employees.

The company formation process can involve complexities. Consider seeking assistance from business setup consultants at Shuraa who can guide you through the legalities, and paperwork, and liaise with the relevant authorities.

What is the Cost of Company Formation in Abu Dhabi?

The total cost of company formation in Abu Dhabi typically ranges from AED 9,000 to AED 29,000 (around $2,450 to $7,900) for a standard company registration package. This range considers factors like:

  • Business Structure: Mainland companies generally have slightly higher costs compared to free zone companies due to additional licensing requirements.
  • Number of Visas: Applying for visas for employees or yourself can add to the overall cost.
  • Complexity of Business Activity: Businesses with specific licensing needs or intricate structures might incur additional fees.

Remember, these are estimates. The final cost for your company formation will depend on your specific circumstances. It’s advisable to consult our business setup specialist for more accurate costs.

Simplify Your Abu Dhabi Company Formation 

Abu Dhabi’s dynamic business landscape presents a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs and established companies alike. If you’re ready to start your entrepreneurial journey in Abu Dhabi, now is the time to take the first step. Shuraa Business Setup is here to assist you with all your company formation needs in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE.

Our experienced business setup specialists provide comprehensive services, including company registration, licensing, paperwork, visa assistance, PRO services, and much more.

With Shuraa Business Setup, you get expert guidance throughout the entire company formation process and beyond, making it easy and stress-free. Don’t let the complexities of starting a business hold you back. Contact Shuraa Business Setup today!