Best Tips on How to Start Business in Abu Dhabi

Best Tips on How to Start Business in Abu Dhabi

Best Tips on How to Start Business in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is one of the best countries for setting up a business in the UAE. Besides being the UAE’s capital city, it is also the second most populous city. When a company or business setup in Abu Dhabi, you must look at the economic factors, the availability of space and the right consumers. Once you find a fit, you can start a business in Abu Dhabi.

The GDP of Abu Dhabi stands at $178 billion, and the per capita income for the population is $61,000. Hence, it is considered a high-income economy. Therefore, you have tremendous business potential in the city. Before you shape your plans, you must try to understand how to start a business in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi contributes about 10% of the world’s total oil supply. However, the country is not just limited to oil reserves. Several other industries are evolving in the city, and you can capitalize on the same.

You can explore the dynamic industries in the country and then work on setting up a company in Abu Dhabi. Before starting a business in Abu Dhabi, you must consider different factors as your initial investment, target audience etc.

Abu Dhabi also provides flexible financing options. Hence, once you understand the cost of starting a business in Abu Dhabi, you can reach out to banks and other financial institutes for a loan.

Read: Top 5 Ways on How to Get a Dubai Residency Visa | Apply Now!

Is Abu Dhabi A Good Place to Set up a Business?

Abu Dhabi is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Hence, you get access to capital and resources when you set up a business in Abu Dhabi. Also, a vast crowd is migrating to Abu Dhabi in search of a better standard of living. You can use your business to cater to the needs of these people.

Is a Foreigner Allowed to Start a Business in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, a foreigner can start a business in Abu Dhabi. However, they must have a long-term plan of staying in the country. They should apply for a Golden Visa to prove their intention of staying back in the city and performing all the tasks related to the business.

How Can a Foreigner Start a Business in UAE?

The foreigner must choose the business activities they are interested in performing. If the nature of the business is industrial, they must apply for an industrial license. In the case of commercial business, they must apply for a commercial license.

They can then choose a location and a business name and get the company registered. They can start their regular business operations as soon as they receive the business license. However, the only difference between this process and regular company formation is that the foreigner will have to furnish the details of the passport and the visa.

Can You Have 100% Ownership of a Company in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, anyone can create a company with 100% ownership. Abu Dhabi also allows you to open a sole proprietorship venture with complete control over the business’s operations.

How Much Does Opening a Company in Abu Dhabi Cost to Open?

Depending on the location and type of business activity an investor plans to do, the total cost of business setup in Abu Dhabi on the mainland may range from AED 24000 to AED 29000 for two years.

Can I Open an Online Business in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, you can easily open an online business in Abu Dhabi. Entrepreneurs can add their online trade activities to their current licenses or apply for a new license to do business through websites and social media networks after getting the eCommerce license from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED).

How Much Does It Cost to Start an Online Business in Abu Dhabi?

The UAE’s starting price for an e-commerce license is AED 5,750. Other expenses exist when applying for your e-commerce licenses, such as resident visa eligibility, office space and facilities, and the registering authority.


The government of UAE has started a unified online platform, Bashr. You can start an online business in Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes through this portal. Bashr is connected with local and federal government entities that provide commercial licence services.

If you reside in Abu Dhabi, you don’t even have to visit the service centres. Instead, investors can apply for a commercial licence online. You can visit the official website of UAE Emirates’ Government Portal to apply for the licence.

How Do I Get a Business License in Abu Dhabi?

You can apply for a business license after completing all the registration steps. You will need the following documents to get a business license in Abu Dhabi: Receipt for initial approval All the previously submitted materials Authenticated copy of a lease contract from the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) Memorandum of Association attested by a Notary Public The consent of additional governmental bodies Contract for a service agent that has been duly attested (for civil establishments held entirely by non-GCC nationals).

How to Start a Business in Abu Dhabi?

If you are wondering how to start a business in Abu Dhabi, we will take a step-by-step approach to understand the entire process. Let’s look at the steps involved in developing a business setup in Abu Dhabi.

Decide the Business Activity

Before starting a business in Abu Dhabi, you must identify the company you want to perform in the city. The business registration process requirements depend on the activity’s nature. Hence, you need to decide on the business you want to conduct through your company.

Currently, a company in Abu Dhabi can take up any one form of business from the six business forms. These business forms include industrial, occupational, agricultural, professional, commercial and tourist related.

The Company Type


There are different types of legal entities that you can incorporate in Abu Dhabi. You must comply with specific requirements based on the structure and company type. Some of the standard company types in Abu Dhabi are :

1. Partnership

2. Limited Liability Company

3. Public Joint Stock Company

4. Private Joint Stock Company

5. Foreign Company Branch

There are a few other types too. You must read through their requirements list before choosing a company type.

Choosing A Name


Once you decide on the type of company, you need to propose a name for the company. You must get your name registered with the Department of Economic Development. You must ensure that the name does not hurt religious sentiments or violate society’s morals.

Also, you should refrain from using the names of Government authorities in the name. Also, the company’s name should give a fair idea about the nature of the business and the activities the company will perform in Abu Dhabi. Once you register the name and make the registration payment, you will receive a payment voucher for the transaction.

Initial Approval


You will get a trade name certificate once your business name is approved. Now, you can apply for a business license. You must also seek the permission of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs during the incorporation process.

MOA and Other Formalities

You must draft a Memorandum of Association of whether you are incorporating a limited partnership, an LLC, a PJSC, or a PRJSC. You must contact a notary public and get the document duly attested. Once you submit the MOA, you need to get approval from several government authorities like the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, etc.

Business License In ABU DHABI


After completing all the steps, a business license will be issued to you. You need to visit the service centre of the Economic Department to collect the license. You need to submit all the necessary documents to get a business license. Once you get the license, you can start your business activities in Abu Dhabi.


Once you’ve completed all the above-listed steps on how to start a business in Abu Dhabi, you can collect the business licence from the service centres of the Economic Departments. The licence can also be obtained through their websites. The following documents are required to get a licence for all the legal forms:

  • Initial approval receipt
  • All previously submitted documents
  • Copy of lease contract duly attested by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA)
  • Duly attested memorandum of association (for all company types)
  • Approvals from other government entities
  • Duly attested service agent contract (for civil establishments that are 100% owned by non-GCC nationals. This also involves local service agents.


One of the critical steps when considering opening a business in Abu Dhabi is selecting your trade name. Once you have chosen a name, it has to be registered at the emirate’s Department of Economic Development (DED). However, a business name may be rejected if it doesn’t meet the following criteria:

  • The proposed name cannot violate public order or public morals.
  • The name cannot contain any governing authority names, religion or external body names or logos.
  • Any unique name has to be followed by the acronym (legal form of the company), i.e. EST, PrJSC etc.
  • The name must be compatible with the proposed business activity.
  • The name must be unique and should not be registered in the past with another business.

A payment voucher (or a transaction number) will be issued during the registration process. The cost can vary depending on the business type, while the payment has to be made within 30 days. The DED only register trade names. Trade name certificates are renewable. For trademark registration in the UAE, the legal body is the Ministry of Economy.


When planning to set up a business in Abu Dhabi, there is an option to choose a free zone. There are certain advantages of opening a business in an Abu Dhabi free zone.

  • Full ownership of the business
  • Permission to transfer revenue and profits from and to the free zone
  • Tax exemptions
  • Accommodation for labour
  • Facilitation in acquiring permits and licences

The final decision depends on what type of business you are planning to open and the possible ownership structure.


Currently, there are five free zones in Abu Dhabi:

  • Abu Dhabi Global Market
  • Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi
  • Masdar City Free Zone
  • Abu Dhabi Airport
  • Twofour54 (the Media Zone Authority)


Entrepreneurs from all over the world can apply for the Golden Visa. You can refer to our guide to Business Gold Visa in the UAE for more information on the eligibility criteria and other requisites.

This brings us to the end of our guide on how to start a business in Abu Dhabi. In recent years, the UAE government has taken significant steps to simplify opening a business in Abu Dhabi.

It is all about facilitating the investors. If you are still in the early stages of your planning, considering free zones in Abu Dhabi might be a good idea. Depending on your business activity, you can also apply for a freelancer’s permit in Abu Dhabi.

UAE is one of the most attractive places to open a business in the region and its stature is only likely to grow in the near future.


Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi is quite easy. Also, the market is at a stage where your business will undoubtedly grow. You must try to understand the steps involved in setting up a business in Abu Dhabi before you get involved with different formalities. Once you get a business license, you can start your regular business activities in Abu Dhabi.

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