Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is a leading financial centre free zone strategically located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE. The process of business setup in ADGM is based on an independent regulatory system, which is a great advantage for foreign investors. Established in 2015, the financial free zone has rapidly grown to become one of the 25 financial centres in the world. ADGM is used by foreign investors to carry out a wide range of regulated and non-regulated activities such as banking, Fintech, trusts, foundations, and other special-purpose vehicles.

ADGM also broke ground by introducing the region’s first crypto assets regulation. ADGM’s foresightedness must be appreciated as more free zones in the UAE have started introducing crypt currency licenses recently. Apart from the activities, company formation in ADGM offers an array of benefits, including world-class facilities, regulations based on English common law, robust data & IP protection laws etc. Business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi can provide more insights on the ADGM company formation process.

Regulatory Authorities in Abu Dhabi Global Market

Unlike the regular UAE free zones, the ADGM free zone is controlled by three Authorities. The three authorities are:

1. ADGM Registration Authority

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    The Registration Authority oversees business setup services in ADGM such as registration, incorporation and licensing of companies. The Registration Authority is also the ultimate authority that supports foreign investors with all government-related services. The Registration Authority is responsible for critical functions of business setup in ADGM such as registration of entities, registration of business names, maintenance of the register, registration of post-incorporation documents, enforcement of ADGM regulations, company liquidation in ADGM, cancellation of licenses in ADGM etc.

    2. Financial Services Regulatory Authority

    The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) mainly regulates the financial services business in ADGM. One of the chief objectives of FSRA is to promote a progressive financial service environment and to shield such businesses from any potential risks, exposure or undesirable impact. FSRA maintains its regulatory operations through public consultations, engagements on introduction and amendments of rules and policies.

    ADGM’s key functions include financial crime prevention, setting out obligations of financial businesses, assessment of regulatory complaints, overseeing the application process of financial firms etc. Investors with access to business setup services in ADGM can easily gain insights into ADGM’s FSRA.

    3. ADGM Courts

    ADGM Courts are responsible for the process of dispute resolution involving ADGM entities. ADGM Courts have adopted a digitalised approach towards arbitration with a robust end-to-end e-courts platform. ADGM is the first jurisdiction in the Middle East to directly apply the English Common Law, providing legal certainty for foreign investors. The ADGM Court judges are senior-level judges drawn from the world’s best known Common Law jurisdictions.

    Core Business Sectors in Abu Dhabi Global Market

    Though the free zone’s primary purpose is to facilitate a platform for financial services, the environment of business setup in ADGM is also conducive for non-financial and retail businesses. The licenses in ADGM are designed to cater to a wide range of activities, including non-financial segments. Investors can set up a business in ADGM by selecting from the following list of activities:

    • Corporate and transaction banking
    • Private banking and wealth management
    • Investment banking
    • Money service business
    • Digital banking
    • Brokerage
    • Market infrastructure
    • Virtual assets activities
    • Securities
    • Investment management
    • Funds and fund management
    • Asset servicing
    • Fintech
    • Corporate headquarters (non-financial)
    • Corporate treasury (non-financial)
    • Family offices and foundations (non-financial)
    • Professional services (non-financial)
    • Tech startups (non-financial)
    • Associations (non-financial)
    • Special Purpose Vehicles
    • Retail

    Office Spaces in Abu Dhabi Global Market

    Once the activities in ADGM are identified, entrepreneurs need to check the facilities provided by the free zone. Office spaces in ADGM are well-designed to fit all types of businesses, including financial and non-financial segments. Office spaces provided by ADGM come with world-class amenities and facilities. Here is a list of office space solutions in ADGM:

    Commercial Office Space

    ADGM offers four Grade A commercial office towers for investors wishing to start a business within the free zone. The Al Sila, Al Sarab, Al Maqam, and Al Khatem towers together offer around 200,000 sqm of commercial office spaces. These towers are the first buildings in the UAE to bag the prestigious LEED Core and Shell Gold Pre-Certification awarded by the US Green Building Council.

    The towers offer a panoramic view of Abu Dhabi, abundant natural light and efficient floor plates that enable the business owners to customise the space for different purposes. Air-conditioned walkways have been built to create a connection between each of the four towers through the Galleria Mall. The towers have connectivity towards Rosewood and Four Seasons Hotels and Al Maryah Central Mall.

    Flexible Office Spaces

    Private offices, dedicated desks and hot desks (Flexi-desks) are being offered for ADGM companies. The offices are situated within ADGM Square at Al Khatem Tower, surrounded by innovators, investors, accelerators, and established companies. The co-working spaces create an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network with business leaders. Facilities include access to well-lit lounges and well-connected conference rooms that offer privacy and productivity.

    Business Centres

    Serviced office spaces and co-working spaces are available on the 34th and 35th floors of Al Maqam tower in ADGM Square. It provides furnished offices of various sizes, with modern furniture and high-speed internet. The flexible office space solution allows the business owners to increase the office space size by adding more desks as the number of staff grows. The office types in ADGM include Window offices, Interior offices, Office suites, Hot desks, co-working and shared offices. Facilities include business-grade internet, wifi, phones, handsets and lines, receptionist service, communal kitchen, Office cleaning and maintenance, business lounge and access to a printer, scanner and photocopier.

    Process of Business Setup in Abu Dhabi Global Market

    The process of business setup in ADGM is straightforward without any lengthy steps. The ADGM company formation process can be completed in a few days’ time. It is advisable to seek advice from business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi to expedite the incorporation process. Investors are advised to execute the following steps:

    1. Consult with Business setup advisers
    2. Prepare documents
    3. Submit the application
    4. Application review and approval by ADGM
    5. Select an office space
    6. Start visa processing
    7. Open a bank account

    Benefits of Company Formation in Abu Dhabi Global Market

    ADGM offers an efficient and flexible business ecosystem for investors. Investors with ADGM is an award-winning financial centre that offers the following benefits for entrepreneurs:

    1. Ease of setting up
    2. English Common Law
    3. Independent jurisdiction
    4. Strategic location in Abu Dhabi
    5. Wide range of legal tools
    6. Dual license to operate in Abu Dhabi mainland
    7. Zero corporate or income tax
    8. 100% foreign ownership
    9. Ability to set up complex structures such as foundations, trusts, and family offices

    Obligations of Entities Registered in Abu Dhabi Global Market

    Business owners who open a company in ADGM are to abide by certain legal obligations set out by the UAE government and the free zone authorities. ADGM entities must disclose the details of their Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) while submitting the application. They should also assess their obligations under the Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) annually. Since the ADGM is a financial free zone, Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT) laws are applicable to both financial businesses and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs). DNFBPs are Auditors, Real Estate Dealers, Dealers of Precious Stones & Precious Metals, and Trust & Corporate Service Providers.

    Investors can gain insights into their AML compliance requirements through the ADGM AML Rule Book. Failing to comply with ESR, UBO and AML obligations in ADGM will lead to hefty penalties and other severe consequences such as sharing of information with foreign competent authority and suspension of trade license. However, business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi can help business owners to ensure regulatory compliance.

    Avail of the Best Business Setup Services in Abu Dhabi, UAE

    Foreign investors may find the process of business setup in the ADGM complex because of the three regulatory authorities with independent governing power. Help is also needed for selecting the activities, understanding the business setup packages, license costs, and the cost of leasing out facilities. All these issues can be resolved by availing of the best business setup services in Abu Dhabi provided by Jitendra Business Consultants (JBC). JBC is one of the leading business setup consultants in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with over 20 years of industry experience.

    We have a team of highly qualified business setup advisers in the UAE possessing commendable knowledge of the UAE laws and ADGM regulations. JBC has successfully helped investors set up a wide range of businesses in ADGM, including financial services, trusts, foundations and other forms of corporate entities. Our bespoke business setup services in the UAE include visa processing, bank account opening, sponsorship of dependents, ESR, UBO, AML-CFT compliance, VAT registration etc. So call us today to ensure you start a business in ADGM in the right way.

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