12th January 2015, Updated 10th December 2018
Whilst Dubai is full of free zones covering numerous sectors; Abu Dhabi has less of a choice. However, free zones do exist, so there are opportunities for those companies wanting the benefits of a free zone in Abu Dhabi. It is wise to understand when a freezone is suitable for your business and when it would be better to setup onshore so that you make an informed decision and set up your Abu Dhabi business legally.
Currently there are five free zones in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi's media free zone. Home to media production, entertainment and marketing-type companies. The aim of the free zone is to provide a collaborative, creative and professional environment. Twofour54 is located on Abu Dhabi island close to Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Khalifa Park.
The industrial free zone located next to Khalifa Port on the mainland in an area called Taweelah, which is about half between Abu Dhabi city and Dubai. Kizad is part free zone and part mainland. Most of the allocated free zone areas were snapped up at launch, so currently only a small free zone availability is currently available in the logistics sector. It is set to become a hub for manufacturing, logistics and trade across various sectors.
Masdar City Free Zone
Masdar's focus is advancing the development, commercialisation and development of renewable energy solutions and clean technologies. It is located between Abu Dhabi Airport and Khalifa City.
Abu Dhabi Airports Business City Free Zone
Abu Dhabi's business and logistics free zone provides warehousing and serviced offices to a broad spectrum of business sectors including aviation, aerospace, defence, airport services, and cargo, among others.
Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)
Abu Dhabi's newest free zone, is located in Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, which is the city's new Central Business District. ADGM is an international financial centre, established as a financial free zone to connect the economies of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia to the world. It covers banking, wealth management and asset management.
The benefits of setting up in a free zone
- 100% foreign ownership
- 100% corporate and income tax exemptions
- 100% repatriation of profits
- No Custom Duties
- Independent regulations
Restrictions of setting up in a free zone
- Restricted to working within the geographic limits of the free zone
- Generally not possible to work directly with Abu Dhabi government
- To export goods onto the mainland, customer duty must be paid and an agent must be appointed
Dual Licenses enable free zone companies to work onshore
It is now possible free zone companies to apply for a dual license. This license enables them to work onshore and to engage directly with government entities. There is strict criteria for the free zone company to meet and this option is only available for certain license activities, generally services activities. More information about dual licenses can be obtained from one of our earlier articles: How Abu Dhabi Free Zone Companies Can Operate Onshore.
Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO Gateway Group of Companies
Gateway Group helps great companies to setup and succeed in Abu Dhabi
Gateway Group are experts in Abu Dhabi company formation. We use our on the ground knowledge and experience, as well as our large network of connections to help companies with their market entry. We have a proven track record of speedy, hassle free business setups for government entities, royal family, multinationals and SMEs. To find out Gateway can help your business to expand to Abu Dhabi, email us: Info@GatewayToAbuDhabi.com
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By providing bespoke business setup, corporate local sponsorship, and visa processing in Abu Dhabi, award-winning Gateway Group uses its on-the-ground experience and knowledge to help companies make informed decisions that are right for their business and in line with their goals.
For assistance with your Abu Dhabi business set up, visa processing and ongoing Trade License renewals, Email us: Info@GatewayToAbuDhabi.com
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