Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

Everything you Need to Know About Setting Up Your Business in Abu Dhabi
Why You Should Do Business in Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE, which happens to be the business hub of the world.  So, it’s no wonder this spot is ideal for entrepreneurs looking to setup their companies.  Dubai has been the primary commercial hub for the UAE for years, but recently Abu Dhabi has worked hard to increase its global presence in the commercial industries and gain popularity among entrepreneurs.  It’s a pretty quick and simple procedure to get business setup in Abu Dhabi too.  And the setup process is a safe and secure one.

Check out the easy process for the low-cost Business Setup in Dubai that will help you with the Company Registration process in Dubai. If one wants to start a business in Abu Dhabi at an affordable cost, then the best way is to talk with the MSZ Consultancy experts, who will manage all the processes and provide you with the best and most suitable low-cost business setup solution in Dubai, which will further help you start your dream business in an easy manner.

Where to Start When Setting Up a Business in Abu Dhabi?


Decide the economic activity

Figure out what type of business you want to run before you start the legal process. Different business types have different activities to fulfill, so it’s important to figure that out before you start the process.


Find a local sponsor

This is a service agent or company owned by UAE nationals. A local sponsor will take care of the licenses and legal steps needed.


Select a legal type

Decide if your business is going to be a Limited Liability Company or a Limited Liability Partnership. Each type requires its own rules and regulations.


Register trade name

After deciding on the business activity and the legal type, you will have to pick out a name so your business can be distinguished from others.


Fulfill licensing requirements

Trade name certificate which will allow you to apply for a business license.


Get special approvals

Foreign investors will have to get the approval of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Investors will also have to get approval from Commercial Protection Division for the proposed business premises.


Confirm business license

After getting approval from authorities, you will need to get approval for the business license and pay the fees.

Deciding What Area is Best for Your Business in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Mainland

Abu Dhabi Mainland

Abu Dhabi is known for a luxurious life and is one of the richest in the Emirate. So, it’s no surprise that businessmen from all over the world are setting up their companies in Abu Dhabi’s Mainland. There’s many benefits in setting up a company here including liberal laws, access to UAE markets, tax exemption, and an inexpensive workforce. The government has also taken initiatives that attract both local and foreign investors. While a Mainland company can conduct business across UAE, there is a maximum foreign shareholder equity capped at 49%.

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Abu Dhabi Free Zone

Abu Dhabi Free Zone

The free zone is authorized as an independent jurisdiction that allows the businesspersons to own their company 100%. Business setup in Abu Dhabi Free Zone is fairly easily and doesn’t require the need for a UAE national or partner. With a business in a Free Zone, there are trading opportunities, foreign ownership, and tax benefits. It has the necessary infrastructure and services needed to make company formation easy.

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Finding the Right License for Your Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

Before starting a business in Abu Dhabi, you will need to have a license. Your license will prove that you’ve met all of the legal requirements needed to have your business in Abu Dhabi. There are 5 types of licenses you can apply for, depending on the nature of your business.

Commercial License

The commercial license is easiest to get compared to other business licenses. This license is issued to companies that will do general business activities. Some companies that fall under this license are public trading companies, hospitals and clinics, real estate, transportation, and construction. The Department of Economic Development issues this license.

Industrial License

Companies that do manufacturing will have to apply for an industrial license. Any company that engages in producing, fabricating, or any other special activity will need to apply for this license. This includes any business that makes products with the purpose of selling it for profit. The Higher Corporation will issue license for Specialized Economic Zones.

Professional License

A service-oriented company like a craftsmen or artisan will need a professional license. This includes carpentry workers and steelworkers because they are using their physical efforts and tools to make a living. The Department of Economic Development also issues this license.

Tourism License

Tourists flock to Abu Dhabi every year, so it’s no surprise tourism is a big industry to get into. To have any type of tourist business in Abu Dhabi, you will have to have a tourism license. This includes tourism-related services like hotels, travel agencies, boat, and car rentals, etc. The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority will have to issue this license.

Occupational License

An occupational license involves businesses that use their mental and intellectual capabilities, talents, and abilities to serve clients. Law firms, accounting firms, research firms, and audit firms are just a few businesses that will require an occupational license.

Occupational License

How to Get a Trade license in Abu Dhabi?

  • Reserve the name of your business
  • Get the Memorandum of Association notarized
  • Get the necessary documents filed
  • Apply for the Establishment card at the Ministry of Labor
  • Register workers with the Ministry of Labor
Occupational License

Benefits That Come with Doing Business in Abu Dhabi

  • Abu Dhabi commercial license is valid for 2 years
  • There is flexibility in renewals
  • Company formation is quick and cost-effective
  • The investor can become a partner in the firm
  • Easy to open global corporate bank accounts

Joint Liability Company

This is a contractual agreement between a foreign party and a regional party. Both partners are jointly responsible and have unlimited liability for all debts of their business.

Simple Commandite Company

This company type consists of general partners who must be UAE nationals, and other participating partners. Participating partners don’t participate in the daily running of the business.

Limited Liability Company

This is one of the most common business setups for an investor. An LLC requires that a minimum of 51% of its capital be owned by a UAE national. The remaining 49% can be held by foreign nations.

Public Limited Company

A public joint-stock company offers shares to the general public to raise capital. This is most often a larger operation.

Private Limited Company

A private shareholding company needs to have a minimum of three shareholders. Shares cannot be offered to the public.

Civil Society

A civil company is a business partnership for professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants. The professional partners own 100% of the company.

Local Business Branch

These UAE registered companies that have a chapter in the UAE can sell or distribute goods in the country.

Foreign Company Branch

This type of company is allowed to invoice UAE customers, sign local sales contracts, and receive income from customers. A local UAE agent will be appointed to sponsor visas and licenses.

The Cost of Business Setup in Abu Dhabi

Now let’s talk about the thing people dread the most – costs. There are basic costs involved at every step of the Abu Dhabi business setup process. Depending on where you decide to start your company will play a role in the costs that are involved.

Mainland Business Setup Cost Abu Dhabi

The type of business you will be doing, office space, and the number of visas you will need will play a big role in the cost of setting up a company in Abu Dhabi’s Mainland. Here are some other prices to be aware of:

  • Incorporation fees – These are one-time fees you will pay when first setting up the company. This will include things like documents, approvals, and inspection fees.
  • Sponsor fees – These fees will vary depending on what type of business you are doing and the sponsor that you choose. These fees are paid annually.
  • Legal fees – This is a one-time fee required for setting up a business in Abu Dhabi. It involves MOA preparation and notary fees.
  • Government and third-party taxes – These are a mix of one-time fees and fees that are paid annually. These include a trade license fee, legal translation, and typing center fees.
  • Visa Fees – You will have to pay fees for each visa for each person. Visas are good for three years for investors and two years for employees.

Abu Dhabi Free Zone Cost

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi’s Free Zone isn’t as expensive as doing business on the Mainland. The cost for setup will depend on many factors like the business type and office space. There are also some other fees to be aware of:

  • Registration Fee – This is a one-time fee that you will pay when registering your business in a Free Zone. The cost will vary depending on what type of legal business type you choose to conduct.
  • Name reservation fee – This is a one-time fee.
  • License Fee – This fee will have to be paid annually. The cost will depend on what type of business license you will need.
  • Share Capital – This will vary depending on what Free Zone you choose to do business in.

Build your Business in Abu Dhabi with MSZ Consultancy

Abu Dhabi is a dream come true for investors that are looking to start their own business in a thriving economy. The city is known by entrepreneurs around the world for its ideal location, an impressive infrastructure, global recognition, and easy business setup.

So, are you ready to have your business dreams made into a reality? MSZ Consultancy will offer the best business setup services in Abu Dhabi.  We will guide you through the entire process from start to finish, to make sure that your business is set up smoothly and successfully in no time.

So, what are you waiting for?  Give our experts a call on +971 52 544 1248 and find out how we can get the plans going to have your business setup in Abu Dhabi.


We are your one-stop for everything you need for setting up a business in Abu Dhabi. Our expert consultants will guide you through all the steps that are involved in getting your business up and running smoothly.  We help with everything you need from company formation, securing a space and a sponsor, answering any financial questions you have, and making sure you have all the legal paperwork you need finished on time.


At MSZ Consultancy, we help make your business dreams become a reality!  You won’t have to worry about losing a night of good sleep thinking if you have everything in place to open your business in Abu Dhabi,  because at MSZ Consultancy, we do all of the hard work for you.  We will guide you through the administrative, financial, and legal processes that you will need to start a business in UAE.


We don’t mean to brag, but we know what we are doing!  We are an award-winning team of consulting specialists with over a decade of prosperous results. We are successful because we truly care about our clients! Our services are customized for you and your business to make sure that you get everything you need at an affordable price.  We strive on being more just a service provider, we want you to consider us a long-term partner.

Our Success Stories

Learn How Companies Have Used the Experts at MSZ Consultancy to Build a Business in Abu Dhabi

Mr. Mujeeb has been very helpful since the beginning. He was not only focused on the procurement process of the license alone. He took his time to explain to me what are my best options for various activities. He took time to listen and understand his client’s needs. The entire process was a breeze! Thank you, Mr. Mujeeb and to MSZ!

Liz Cardona

I dealt with Mujeeb, who was very prompt at responding to my initial enquiry.

He listened to what I wanted, he did not presume anything or try to sell me something I didn't require or would not fit my purposes and always responded to my emails swiftly.

I am extremely satisfied with the service received from MSZ Consultancy and would definitely recommend them.

Charl Breytenbach

As MSZ consultancy has guided me to get my business license last month, I found it to have both a professional and friendly environment simultaneously, I recommend to everyone who is looking for business setup consultants in Dubai. Mr. Zubair was really understanding, cooperative and helpful throughout the process.

Nasreen Gulam

As easy as it could be, MSZ helped me setup my business and everything has just been uphill from there. The staff and the Employees were all so easy to talk to and friendly, 100% would recommend MSZ to everyone looking to setup their business.

Mariam George

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the business licenses available in Abu Dhabi?

  • Commercial License
  • Occupational License
  • Professional License
  • Industrial License
  • Tourism License

What are the types of business entities available in Abu Dhabi?

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Partnership
  • Public Shareholding Company
  • Joint Ventures
  • Branch of a Local or Foreign Company
  • Representative Office

How to obtain a trade license in Abu Dhabi?

First, you will have to file an application and submit the required documents. After your application is approved, you will need to get a membership from the Chamber of Commerce. Then, a permit will be issued after a field visit from the DED or Commercial Register.

What is the minimum capital required for registering an Abu Dhabi company?

There is no minimum capital requirement.

How many directors are required for company formation in Abu Dhabi?

In the Mainland, you will need two directors. In the Free Zone, you will only need one director.

What is the cost of a business setup in Abu Dhabi?

The cost to set up a business in Abu Dhabi will vary depending on what type of business and what area you want to set your business up at (Mainland or Free Zone).

What are ‘baqalas’ in Abu Dhabi?

These are small groceries that operate for 18 hours a day, seven days a week. They will also deliver.

What are the documents required to obtain a freelance visa in Abu Dhabi?

  • Business plan
  • A copy of your passport and visa
  • Bank reference letter
  • Sponsor/employee NOC
  • Portfolio
  • Credentials certificates
  • Complete any other documents needed

How to apply for a freelance visa in Abu Dhabi?

This type of visa is issued in Abu Dhabi Free Zones. The process will vary depending on what type of Free Zone you want to do business in. Here is the standard process:

  • Submit an application for provisional approval
  • After approval, you will receive a confirmation letter that needs to be signed and submitted for final approval
  • Pay fees
  • Sign the agreement

What you need to do to start a business in Abu Dhabi?

  • Decide what type of business you want to have
  • Get a local sponsor
  • Register the business name
  • Get initial approval
  • Get Certificate of Incorporation and Business License
  • Register with the Chamber of Commerce
  • Get the external approvals required
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