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Department of Economic Development (DED) License

  • Flexibility to do business in any part of the UAE with local and government authorities
  • No limit on number of visas (depending on the size of the office space)
  • Office premises anywhere in Abu Dhabi (excluding Free Zones)
  • More options on business activities
  • Fewer nationality restrictions in ownership and visas compared to other jurisdictions

Under the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development), the main licensing options are:

Professional License
(Provision of non-physical services e.g. Consultancy)

  1. The establishment of entities formed under the UAE Civil Code which are restricted to carrying out “non-commercial” or civil activities. The UAE Civil Code entities (may be an Individual Establishment or a Civil Works Company) include promotion of services, skills, and expertise of the individual(s) conducting the business, as well as other related practices that involve the use or investment of intellectual faculties.
  2. Professional companies may be 100% foreign owned. However, it is necessary to appoint a “Local Service Agent” or “Local Sponsor.”
  3. To comply with the provisions of UAE law, we propose that one of the local partners of CREATIVE ZONE will act as the Local Service Agent. The nominated Local Service Agent will not have any management authority or financial commitment and he will only act on your behalf to facilitate the trade license and visa processes necessary to complete your trade license. The Local Service Agent Appointment Contract shall regulate the relationship between the two parties.
  4. Depending on the business activity, this can be an LLC (Limited Liability Company) if 51% ownership is given to a UAE National or Company. For the latter and in certain business activities, the shareholders of the UAE company must meet the same criteria as the expat partner/s.
  5. Existing companies can only invest in a new Civil Company if they reflect the same business activity.

Commercial License
(Provision of physical services or trading activities)

  1. The establishment of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Abu Dhabi in accordance with the Commercial Companies Law. This is the most widely used commercial entity for companies with foreign ownership wishing to conduct commercial activities and trade in the UAE
  2. Each of the partners shall only be liable to the extent of their share capital in the company upon incorporation as stated in the executed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
  3. Under the UAE Companies Law, a minimum of 51% ownership must be held by a UAE National (Local Partner), and 49% ownership will be that of the foreign shareholder. However, the law permits the issuance of constitutional documents for an LLC to contain provisions designed to protect the interests of the foreign minority shareholder, including but not limited to the profits distribution, assets entitlement, appointment of directors/managers, powers of administration, and influence in decision making.
  4. To comply with the provisions of the UAE Companies Law, we propose that CREATIVE ZONE General Trading or a CREATIVE ZONE recommended UAE national act as your “Local Partner”.

Branch or Representative Office

  1. It is stipulated under the UAE Companies Law that 100% foreign ownership is allowed provided that a local service agent is appointed.
  2. A Branch office is a legal extension of the parent company and is permitted to secure contracts and conduct business activities, which are similar to those of its parents company subject to the approval of the UAE Ministry of Economy.
  3. A Representative office is established to promote the products and services of its parent company but may not carry out any trading activity or enter into commercial transactions and deals by itself. The number of employees allowed under this company is limited to 4.