Abu Dhabi Free Zones: A Cost Analysis for Business Licensing

Abu Dhabi Free Zones: A Cost Analysis for Business Licensing

- Jade Wong

Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, stands as a significant business hub in the Middle East. The city boasts several free zones, which are specialised areas offering a wealth of advantages to businesses looking to establish or expand their presence. 

These free zones are renowned for providing 100% foreign ownership, full repatriation of profits, tax exemptions, and simplified company setup processes. Designed to cater to a diverse array of industries, each free zone in Abu Dhabi is uniquely tailored to support specific business activities.

Abu Dhabi free zones: An overview

Twofour54: Situated in the heart of Abu Dhabi, Twofour54 caters specifically to the media and entertainment sectors. 

This free zone offers a dynamic, supportive environment for media companies, freelancers, and startups engaged in content creation, providing advanced infrastructure and a range of services tailored to enhance creative processes.

Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ): ADAFZ specialises in aviation, logistics, and light industries, offering streamlined business setup processes and immediate access to one of the region's busiest airports. 

This proximity facilitates easy logistics and global connectivity, making it ideal for businesses that require frequent transportation.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM): Operating under English Common Law, the ADGM free zone serves as a top-tier financial free zone, providing a comprehensive ecosystem for financial services and associated professional firms. 

Its robust legal framework and international financial exchange cater to the needs of global financial institutions and businesses.

Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD): KIZAD is focused on manufacturing and logistics, providing extensive industrial spaces and direct access to major logistical hubs, including ports and transportation routes. 

This zone is engineered to support large-scale industrial operations and supply chain efficiencies.

Masdar City Free Zone: Dedicated to advancing clean technologies and renewable energy, Masdar City Free Zone offers a pioneering platform for companies involved in the development and commercialisation of sustainable solutions. 

Its focus on innovation and eco-friendly technologies positions it at the forefront of environmental sustainability efforts.

Cost analysis for business licensing

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi's free zones involves varying costs and regulatory requirements tailored to each zone's specific focus and advantages:

Twofour54: The Twofour54 free zone in Abu Dhabi don't apply registration fees, they charge for the office space only.

This zone primarily supports media-related activities, offering licences for content creation, broadcasting, and media services. 

The environment is designed to nurture creative projects with no minimum capital requirements, enabling easier entry for startups and independents.

Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ): ADAFZ offers business licensing for free zone LLCs and branches of foreign companies.

The capital requirement is AED 5,000 and the registration fee is AED 7,500, with licensing fees ranging from AED 15,000 to AED 50,000 depending on the business structure and scale of operations. 

ADAFZ caters to a wide range of industries but is primarily focused on aviation, logistics, and freight sectors, with licences tailored for cargo handling, logistics, and manufacturing. The proximity to the airport provides strategic advantages for import/export-oriented businesses.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM): Setup fees in ADGM can vary widely but typically start from AED 22,000 for a retail-based business up to AED 55,000 for a financial services company. 

This includes the application for a name reservation, company registration, issuance of the commercial licence and the business activity fee. 

ADGM offers licences for banking, wealth and asset management, and financial services as well as other non-financial activities such as professional services, corporates, family businesses and retail.

Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD): KIZAD has licence fees starting from AED 15,000 and registration costs around AED 5,000. 

It supports manufacturing, logistics, and industrial activities, with no minimum capital requirement, making it attractive for heavy industries and manufacturing units seeking large space and logistical ease.

Masdar City Free Zone: The setup costs include licence fees from AED 10,000 and registration fees around AED 5,000. 

Masdar is ideal for businesses in clean tech and renewable energy, offering licences for research and development, manufacturing of sustainable products, and environmental services. 

This zone promotes innovation with support structures for startups and established enterprises focusing on sustainability.

These costs are indicative and subject to change based on the specific business activity and scale. Each free zone also offers unique sector-specific incentives that can significantly influence the overall cost of business setup.

How Can PRO Partner Group Help?

Establishing in Abu Dhabi free zones involves a thorough understanding of local regulations and jurisdictions. The process, while rewarding, can be intricate and demands a significant investment of time and resources. This is where the expertise of a professional corporate services provider becomes invaluable.

PRO Partner Group specialises in providing expert assistance with Abu Dhabi company setup. Our services include securing all necessary approvals and licences, facilitating visa processes, and offering ongoing services such as accounting, payroll, and HR management. 

Our team is ready to support you in navigating the setup process and helping you take full advantage of the opportunities available in Abu Dhabi’s vibrant trading ecosystem.

If you need assistance with this or with any other related company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman or Qatar, then please do get in touch with us on +971 (0)2 448 5120 for Abu Dhabi or +971 (0)4 456 1761 for Dubai, email us at info@propartnergroup.com or complete the contact form below and we will be delighted to assist you.

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