Starting a business in Abu Dhabi

Free Zones in Abu Dhabi



When starting a business in Abu Dhabi you have two options – to open a company in the main land or in one of the free offshore zones.

At the moment there are five free zones operating in Abu Dhabi and all of them offer a wide scope of services. Here is the list:

  1. TWOFOUR54

If you work in the media, advertising, creative, etc. this free zone is just for your company. You have the options to register a free zone limited liability company, a company branch, a start-up or work as a freelancer. The costs to open a company in this free zone vary, starting from 3,300 AED per year for a freelancer up to 25,000 per year for LLC. In addition, you need to pay a one-time fee for the registration and of course rent for the office and visa fees.

Twofour54 Abu Dhabi is a subsidiary of Media Zone Authority. The zone is named after the geographical co-ordinates of Abu Dhabi (24° North, 54° East). At the moment there are more than 300 companies registered in this free zone. Some of them include 7 Days UAE, Action Media Production,, CNN, Creative five, Havas Middle East, Palm Labs and many more.

  1. Kizad free zone

Kizad is the industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi. It is situated next to Khalifa Port and includes different clusters including: aluminum, base metals, Engineering and glass, food products, logistics, metal/paper products, aluminum, mixed use, offices and port logistics. According to the conditions of the industrial zone:

  • For companies involved in industrial manufacturing activities, choosing a joint venture with a local company (taking up to 49% ownership) allows them to claim exemption from import duties on raw materials; Goods manufactured in this case will be exempt from customs duties when exported to most GCC countries.
  • 100% foreign- owned companies can avoid duties on imported goods kept in bonded status in the industrial zone and re-exported from the UAE.
  1. Masdar City free zone

 Masdar City project – one of the most exciting eco-developments was always interesting for me. The special dedicated zone is located close to Abu Dhabi Airport and around 17 km from the Abu Dhabi city centre. The segments which are usually licensed in this zone include: renewable energy, clean tech & ICT, marketing and events, HR development, energy industry, healthcare services, community centres, etc. The license fee varies from 10,000 AED up to 20,000 AED. 

  1. Abu Dhabi Airports Company

This is the logistic free zone in Abu Dhabi.

  1. Abu Dhabi Global Market

This is the newest free zone in Abu Dhabi opened in 2015. This zone is situated on Maryah island next to Al Reem Island. ADGM Square is already home to over 40 global blue chip companies and features a luxury retail district called The Galleria, showcasing many of the world’s prestigious fashion and fine jewellery brands and offering an eclectic mix of dining options.

Abu Dhabi Global Market is one rising international financial centre.

You may ask what are the benefits to work in a free zone? See below the list:

  • You will have 100% foreign ownership;
  • 100% corporate and income tax exemptions;
  • 100% repatriation of profits;
  • There are no customs duties;
  • They have their own independent regulations.

Business outside the free zones: if you want to start a business in the UAE outside of the free zones, you will need a local partner, who will have 51 % percent ownership in the company. Usually local partners are paid to fee for this service. You need to search for either a local sponsor or for a National Service Agent.

Was this information useful? Subscribe to my newsletter below to get more similar news and tips

Leave a Reply