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Setting up Business in Abu Dhabi Global Market Freezone (ADGM)


Abu Dhabi Global Market is an international financial centre and free zone located on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. The financial centre was established in 2013 by Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and became fully operational in October 2015. It was created as a catalyst for its ambitious growth plans including innovation and financial intermediation, to advance the growth of the economies in the UAE.

ADGM is a free zone jurisdiction which offers 100% foreign ownership, no corporate and personal tax, no currency restrictions opportunities to grow and scale in Abu Dhabi’s award-winning international financial center by providing an international and supportive environment for favourable financial business growth for business houses.

Benefits of starting business in ADGM

ADGM offers a wide range of services to the investors who want to start a business in UAE free zones, such as:

  • Visas and Government services
  • Electronic Prudential Reporting
  • Post-Registration services
  • Office of Data protection
  • Employment Affairs Office
  • An independent jurisdiction with globally recognized English common law structure
  • Full operational commercial license
  • The low-cost annual license fee
  • Opportunity to receive up to 4 employee visa
  • Modern Infrastructure and global connectivity
  • No physical office space required
  • Access to the Entrepreneurship Support Program

Setting up Business in Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Zone (ADGM)

Types of Business Setups in ADGM Free Zone

The corporate setups allowed in Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Zone are –

  • Company Limited by Shares
  • Holding Company
  • Special Purpose Vehicle
  • Branch of a Foreign Company
  • Company Limited by Guarantee
  • Partnership Firm

To obtain a license from ADGM and start business operations, an investor must first identify the type of business activities and the type of business to be formed. ADGM businesses may be limited by shares or by guarantee, or they may be unlimited. The LLC Partnership Regulations, 2015 provides for the formation and operation of limited liability partnerships as a corporate structure.

The ADGM free zone is governed by three independent authorities. They are –

  • Registration Authority – Registration Authority support and guide organizations through the whole process of company formation, registration and licensing, visas and also other services in ADGM.
  • Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) – The main objective of FSRA is to establish a robust and well-regulated financial market with a high level of regulatory transparency and also engagement
  • ADGM Courts – They have a fully independent common law framework to adjudicate civil and also commercial disputes.

Procedure of setting up a business in ADGM

  • Determining Business Activity – Before starting the process for issuing the business license, it is necessary to determine the activities of the business to be undertaken.
  • Registration of the trade name – After selecting the activity and form of the business, a trade name that gives a separate identity to the business from the others must be selected.
  • Prepare Registration Documents and Business Plan – Registration applications and forms will be prepared at this stage & business plan also needs to be drafted.
  • Prepare and Submit Application for Registration of the Business – Legal documents, such as the Articles of Association and shareholders resolution must be submitted on the ADGM.
  • Obtaining Initial Approval – For foreign Investors, getting the approval of the concerned authority (GDRFA) is mandatory.
  • Issuance of License – On obtaining the approval of the relevant authorities, the license can be issued by various licensing authorities under the following categories…
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • Vocational
  • Professional
  • Industrial
  • Tourism

The establishment of ADGM has been commended by the business community, particularly in Abu Dhabi, as well as professional consultants such as lawyers, auditors, accountants, and management consultants. The continued development of the Dubai International Financial Centre and development of ADGM suggest there is a considerable business appetite for the offering of these financial centres. Although Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Zone is a comparatively new jurisdiction, it is already attracting businesses who wish to combine, under one operation, the international standards and the local availability of an everyday law regime with the facilities located in the UAE’s capital.


How long is it going to take?

ADGM aims to provide rapid processing of business incorporation, from set-up to expansion. This includes a simple and efficient registration and incorporation process where they aim to do this in the fastest way possible. Provided all requirements for incorporation are met and the Registrar is satisfied that the requirements of relevant regulations are complied.

What happens after my entity is registered?

Once the company is registered, the company may commence its business and its directors are bound to adhere with the requirements prescribed by the ADGM Companies Regulations 2015, ADGM Commercial Licensing Regulations 2015 and any other relevant regulations and enabling rules. The company is required to file certain documents including but not limited to annual accounts and an annual return. They must also inform the Registrar about any changes, such as the appointment or resignation of directors or a change to the company’s registered office, etc.

How will the firms be regulated within ADGM?

Abu Dhabi Global Market will have its own judicial system and legislative infrastructure, under three independent authorities:

  • Registration Authority
  • Financial Services Regulatory Authority
  • ADGM Courts

The ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority will supervise regulated companies and monitor their compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. The ADGM Registration Authority will monitor compliance of the firms with periodic and event-driven filing requirements subject to ADGM Rules and Regulations.

This blog is written by Mr. Mohammad Rizwan Khan, Business Advisor at Flyingcolour Business Setup, VAT and Accounting Services, Dubai. If you have any question regarding setting up a ADGM company then please contact us at +971 4 4542366 or email us at

Please Note: This article was published on 01st March, 2021. The information provided in the article is based on the policies and rules applicable at the time of writing it. Talk to one of our consultants for any recent update or change.


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