It has never been easier to launch and grow a company in Abu Dhabi, the fastest growing business hub in the Middle East. There are more government initiatives available to help kick start an entrepreneur’s dream than ever before. The emirate has recorded a spectacular increase in industry-focused and specialised sectors that are supported by suitable jurisdictions and licensing authorities.
But so much choice can also mean indecision. For many of us, the best way forward isn’t a clear one. So let’s take a brief look at what’s available, who it’s for and how a new initiative aims to make it even easier for you to take your company to the next level in Abu Dhabi.
A diversifying economy
It is no secret that the UAE has historically been an oil-focused economy. Yet, the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, has made great strides to diversify away from such reliance on hydrocarbons. In the four years between 2014 and 2018, petroleum and natural gas contributed to Abu Dhabi’s GDP fell from 52% to 44%. Over the same period, manufacturing went up from 19% to 24%. Much of this has to do with the government’s drive to make it easier for other industries to find a home in the region.
Government initiatives for all
The Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 set out a core commitment to building a sustainable and diversified, high value-added economy by 2030. This means fostering non-oil growth in knowledge-based industries such as aerospace and defence, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, tourism, transportation, education, media, financial services and more. It’s an ambition that has opened doors for more opportunities across the region.
The largest is Ghadan 21, the government’s accelerator programme. This AED 50bn package started in 2019 and is investing in businesses and innovation and the people too, suggesting that Abu Dhabi is becoming a preferred destination to work and live.
The programme is offering:
• Business Initiatives – Include deregulation, instant and dual licences, and a recent focus on technology businesses. Then there is an AED 535m venture fund, an SME credit guarantee scheme, corporate research and development (R&D) scheme and ecotourism initiatives.
• Innovation – Has HUB71, a global tech innovation ecosystem, and an AED 300m crowdsource innovation fund.
• People – This includes new housing loans, new schools, community events and an AED 8bn plan to beautify public spaces. But it’s not just one big scheme; there are plenty of smaller ones as well. The Smart Manufacturing Project is opening up financing opportunities to help transform manufacturing by making it more automated, safer and efficient through technology. There is even a push to make Made in Abu Dhabi brand a sign of quality. This will be added to all factory and manufacturing licences and aims to build trust in products made in the region.
Swift pandemic response
Let’s be honest; times have been tough recently. Any plans laid down in 2019 now need to adapt to our new normal ways of working in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Abu Dhabi responded swiftly to the economic challenges created through a 16 part economic stimulus package.
This includes initiatives to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs), including a number of exemptions on registration fees and tariffs, an AED 3bn credit guarantee programme, a review of lending options, and a rebate on rentals. There is also help for citizens in the form of subsidies on necessities such as water and electricity.
A wide range of jurisdictions and licensing authorities
Choosing the right location and selecting the correct license for your business is vital but often made challenging by the complexity of what is offered. One of the things that really makes Abu Dhabi stand out is that a lot of what is available is industry-specific, making it easier to choose what is right for you.
In terms of jurisdictions, the Department of Economic Development – Abu Dhabi (AD DED) is a perfect option for anyone wanting to set up on the mainland and requiring flexibility to do business in any part of the UAE.
There are also a large number of free zones. If your startup is industrial or manufacturing-focused, check out Abu Dhabi Industrial City (ADIC) or Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), the latter of which offers a wide range of packages for new businesses and pre-built warehouses ready for you from day one. While if you’re planning on doing a lot of international trading, the Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) might be the right fit.
For businesses working in the energy, renewables or sustainability sectors, then Masdar City is the place to be. This region is the focal point for sustainable development and has recently launched new business packages exclusively for women. For those setting up in chemicals, food and beverage, textiles and engineering, take a peek at ZonesCorp.
Not all businesses are set on trading physical products, though. If you’re a financial servicing or wealth management business, you may wish to look at the Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Zone (ADGM), an award-winning international financial centre.
Businesses with a media or creative twist should check out twofour54. This free zone has just relocated to the Yas Creative Hub, a purpose-built development for media, entertainment and gaming in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi – a frontrunner
So there you have it. From an increasingly diversified economy, major government initiatives, and a wealth of talent – through to its strong focus on innovation and multiple options for company setup – Abu Dhabi is right at the front when you’re making the decision on where to set up your company.
Ready to set up your Abu Dhabi company? Visit https://www.setupinabudhabi.ae/contact for more information and to get in touch with us.