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How to set up a tech start-up in Abu Dhabi

Monday March 28, 2022

Abu Dhabi has become a powerhouse in the tech sector in recent years as the local economy has diversified away from its traditional focus on hydrocarbons. With plentiful backing from the government, as well as a highly developed infrastructure and many investors willing to back innovative businesses, Abu Dhabi has become a highly desirable base for tech entrepreneurs from across the globe.

This, allied to the right sorts of support, mean there has never been a better time to set up a tech start-up in Abu Dhabi and ensure that it reaches its potential and delivers the returns you hope for.
This article will outline what is needed to start a business and covers the following topics:

    • Benefits of starting a tech company in Abu Dhabi
    • Steps to starting a tech company in Abu Dhabi
    • Costs of starting a tech company in Abu Dhabi
    • Working with Creative Zone

Benefits of starting a tech company in Abu Dhabi

There are numerous benefits of setting up a tech company in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is well established as a hub for business, from multi-nationals to start-ups, and it is renowned for being a hub for innovative tech businesses.
By setting up a company in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, you can take advantage of the easy access to major seaports and international airports – 80% of the population of the world is within an eight-hour flight from Abu Dhabi.

Other benefits include the flexibility to be able to trade in all parts of the UAE with local and government authorities, and no restriction on how many visas can be applied for – although this is dependent on how big the office space is. Additionally, entrepreneurs can establish their offices anywhere in Abu Dhabi – apart from free zones. There are also not as many restrictions on the nationality of owners and visas in comparison with other jurisdictions.

Abu Dhabi also offers a very high standard of living for people who live and work there. It has highly advanced healthcare and education systems, as well as parks and amenities, which can help businesses to recruit the best talent from around the world.

Steps to start a tech company in Abu Dhabi

Step 1: Choose a company name
One of the earliest, and most important steps is to decide on the name for your tech start-up. There are relatively few rules in Abu Dhabi in regard to this, but there are some entrepreneurs need to be aware of.

Perhaps most importantly, the company name should be unique to your business – you cannot use the same name that an existing business has. It is also not permitted to have a company name that includes profane language.

Another good tip is to ensure that the company name is easily searchable in internet search engines, as this is a way that many people do research today.

Step 2: Complete the application to obtain your trade license
For tech start-ups, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Tech Start-up License enables entrepreneurs to get established speedily and with ease – although it should be noted this is not for technology service providers. Licenses are for two stages: seed and emergent.

To be eligible for an ADGM Tech Start-up License, the business must fulfil certain criteria. For instance, it must be technology centred and innovative in its products/services and have potential to scale. Any business also must have a prototype ready – or be working towards it – and have tangible evidence of the vision for the business and its products.

Entrepreneurs will also have to demonstrate that the finished product/service can be launched in Abu Dhabi and help the local economy to grow.
To apply for a license, applicants are required to produce a business plan and a lease of the office space – among other documents – as well as the first annual license fee and the completed application.

Once submitted, the ADGM will review the application and ask via email for any further information they may require. When the review is completed, applicants will receive an email telling them if they have been successful with their application.

Following a successful application, the ADGM Registrar completes the registration and incorporation process and issues the trade license. When this has been completed applicants are notified by email and they can then begin operating.

Step 3: Complete the visa processes
Another important step is obtaining the necessary visa required to live and work in Abu Dhabi. To make a visa application, entrepreneurs need to contact the relevant immigration department.

But if you want to set up your tech start-up in a free zone, then the residence visa application forms part of the initial formation process for a business.

There is also the UAE Golden Visa that can be applied for, which was launched in 2019 and is valid for five or 10 years, depending on the category.

This long-term visa gives foreign nationals the right to work, live and study in Abu Dhabi without having to have a national sponsor and gives them complete ownership of their company on the UAE mainland.

Step 4: Open a bank account
Opening a bank account for your business is a crucial part of any business. Different banks will have different documents that they require to set up a bank account, and entrepreneurs should be aware of this as they look for an account. As ever, getting the right advice can be crucial, and Creative Zone can help with that.

The above steps are a simplified version to give entrepreneurs an idea of what they will need to do to set up their tech start-up in Abu Dhabi. Creative Zone can guide entrepreneurs on every step of the way to ensure that the business has the optimum set-up and leave them free to concentrate on the important things – driving the business forward and creating profits.

Costs of starting a tech company in Abu Dhabi

The cost of starting a tech company in Abu Dhabi starts at AED22,000, but this price can vary, depending on several factors such as visa requirements and the location of the office. There are often other costs involved in applying for licenses, which entrepreneurs need to be aware of.

This is something that Creative Zone can provide advice on and help ensure that entrepreneurs don’t end up paying more than they have to. For a personalised quote, contact the Creative Zone team today.

Working with Creative Zone

As outlined in this article, Abu Dhabi is an excellent place to set up a tech start-up business, with great support, infrastructure and access to skilled employees.

However, setting up a tech start-up in Abu Dhabi can have complexities that entrepreneurs – domestic and international – might not appreciate, especially if they don’t have in-depth knowledge of local laws, and these can trip people up. However, by working with consultants like Creative Zone to set up your business, you can ensure that the process is handled as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Creative Zone are vastly experienced in how to set up tech businesses in Abu Dhabi and, with our local knowledge, our consultants can navigate the complexities with skill and speed to ensure your consultancy is operational as soon as possible.
For more information and a personalised quote, please visit contact us.


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