Abu Dhabi Free Zone

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About Abu Dhabi Free Zones

The UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, has developed numerous free zones to support international trade and investment in the Emirates while also offering a favorable business environment. Individuals looking to establish their business can benefit greatly from these free zones, since they operate under specific regulations and offer benefits including tax exemptions, a simplified company setup procedure, 100% foreign ownership, a low-cost operating environment, and complete capital and profit repatriation.

Popular Free Zones in Abu Dhabi

Below we have listed some Abu Dhabi free-trade zones that cultivate and foster an environment that provides access to a wide range of resources and enables you to collaborate and refine your expertise with like-minded industry professionals:

1. #1 Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Zone

The only and most recent financial free zone area in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is situated on Al Maryah Island and was founded in 2015. The common law of England and Wales backs it. With its independent ADGM courts, this jurisdiction offers legal certainty, allowing registered financial, non-financial, and retail entities to flourish within an international framework. Abu Dhabi Global Market is a popular jurisdiction among high net-worth individuals (HNIs), offering Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), Trusts, and Foundations. The ADGM Registration Authority, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, and the ADGM Courts are the three regulatory bodies that oversee and manage the businesses within the free zone.

2. #2 Khalifa Industrial Zone

The first integrated industrial free zone for trade and logistics is the Khalifa Industrial Zone - Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), which is situated in Al Tawila, between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is a part of the Abu Dhabi Ports Company and was founded in 2012. KIZAD provides easy access to local, regional, and global markets along with top-notch transportation infrastructure, including air, sea, land, and road networks. Furthermore, the free zone's connection to Khalifa Port makes it facile to import/export large quantities of raw materials and finished goods. KIZAD primarily caters to business sectors such as steel, logistics, transportation, biotechnology, chemicals, petrochemicals, steel, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and metals.

3. #3 Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone

Set within the vicinity of Abu Dhabi Airport, the Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ) is a well-known free zone in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ) is a comprehensive business park that provides business services along with commercial offices, development plots, storage facilities, and logistics support. Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ) is home to top-notch warehousing facilities and aircraft hangars. The authority handles free zones at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Ain International Airport, and Al Bateen Executive Airport. Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone is preferred by businesses in the electronics, engineering, logistics and cargo, aviation, aerospace, and pharmaceutical sectors. Some notable companies in the Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone include FedEx, DHL, TNT, ARAMEX, AWAS, etc.

4. #4 Twofour54

Founded in 2008, twofour54 is an Abu Dhabi media free zone that offers global, regional, and local media companies with infrastructure and a full range of support services. Creative businesses in the media, broadcast, gaming, and communication industries can find a home at twofour54, which provides everything from fully furnished offices to top-notch production facilities and business support services. The free zone permits a variety of activities, such as content creation, broadcasting, animation, music production, and advertising. Moreover, twofour54 was among the first free zones in the United Arab Emirates to grant a license for online game development, or e-sports, which has become a rising industry in recent years.

5. #5 Masdar City Freezone Abu Dhabi

Operating as a special economic zone, Masdar Free Zone in Abu Dhabi prioritizes clean technology and renewable energy sources. Established in 2006, Masdar City Free Zone is a commercial center situated in Masdar City, an urban community situated slightly outside of Abu Dhabi's capital. Abu Dhabi's fastest-growing free zone, Masdar City, offers several benefits to clean energy startups, including a service that makes the licensing, hiring, and registration processes simple. The free zone facilitates the following activities: trading companies, holding companies, business centers and data centers, oil and gas services, retail, food and beverage, healthcare, energy industry, cleantech and ICT, marketing and events, human resources, and property development services.

6. #6 Industrial City of Abu Dhabi

Located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the 40 square kilometer Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD) free zone is a purpose-built industrial area. The Abu Dhabi Ports Company oversees and controls the industrial zone. ICAD presently maintains five industrial clusters, each of which caters to a distinct industry, to assist Abu Dhabi's manufacturing business setup. As of right now, the clusters are separated into: ICAD I for heavy-to-medium manufacturing engineering and processing sectors ICAD II for light-to-medium manufacturing engineering, and processing ICAD III for small to medium-sized manufacturing companies ICAD IV for light industries and technology ICAD V for the automotive sector
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7. #7 Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones / ZonesCorp

Established in 2004, the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (ZonesCorp) aims to integrate and develop Abu Dhabi's industrial cities. Approximately half of the Emirate's GDP is attributed to the six industrial zones that Zonecorp created and developed. These zones are regarded as being of the highest caliber. The unique aspect of this free zone is that it only mandates an industrial license for business setup, distinguishing it from others. General partnership companies, limited partnerships, partnerships with shares, limited liability companies, private joint-stock companies, branches, public joint-stock companies, local establishments, and joint venture companies are among the allowed entities.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Abu Dhabi free zone cost varies based on the free zone type, license type, business activity, etc.

In a free zone, starting a business is comparatively simpler. Authorities in free zones demand the least amount of paperwork and time. The main steps for the Abu Dhabi free zone company setup are listed below:

  1. Identify the kind of legal entity
  2. Select a trade name
  3. Make a business license application
  4. Select a workspace
  5. Obtain preapprovals, register your company, and obtain a license

Getting the necessary licenses and documents ready to establish your business in Abu Dhabi legally is crucial.

Employment visa: Provided to individuals employed at free zone companies. Investor visas: Given to people who contribute a set amount to businesses located in free zones.
Entrepreneur visa: Given to people establishing their own companies in free zones.
Dependent visas: Issued for a visa holder’s spouse, kids, and other dependents.

The main charges include:
Visa application fees: Changes according to the free zone and type of visa.
Insurance and medical testing: Extra charges are based on selected providers.
Processing and service fee: Depending on the free zone or selected agency, processing and service fees might be applicable.

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