Abu Dhabi Global Market gears up for launch of financial free zone this year

Abu Dhabi Global Market is stepping up its preparations for the launch of the capital’s financial free zone this year.

ADGM said it would begin accepting licence applications from non-financial companies seeking to do business in the Al Maryah Island home of the new market.

Existing tenants with private limited or branch office legal status can apply from today, and have a year to decide whether to apply.

The announcement covers businesses such as retailers, food and beverage outlets, and office services suppliers.

Finance, law, accounting and consulting companies, which ADGM aims to attract, will be able to apply later.

“This is the first phase in a series of activities as ADGM looks to ramp up its efforts in preparation for launch in the second half of this year,” said ADGM.

Rules to regulate the financial sector were being reviewed by a panel of experts and would be published “in the coming weeks”, said ADGM.

Applicants will be required to pay a range of fees for their ADGM licence, varying from US$300 to “establish a presence” to $4,000 for the issuance of a commercial licence. A business activity fee, covering up to 10 different activities, will cost $4,000.

Dhaher bin Dhaher Almheiri, the chief executive of ADGM’s registration authority, said this was the first in a series of licensing phases that would be announced in the coming months.

“Our primary focus at this stage is on existing Al Maryah Island tenants,” he said. “Over the past few weeks we have reached out to them, met with them and spoken to them to ensure that they are fully aware of our activities and our service offering, that they understand the registration and licensing process and requirements, and also understand the options available to them.

“Our business development team will continue to work closely with the tenants and will guide them … during this transitional period, in line with our commitment to making this as easy and seamless an experience as possible.”

Last month, ADGM and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) signed an initial agreement that covers many aspects of the free zone’s activities. They include the registration and protection of company names and licences, both onshore and within ADGM; developing the process for transferring and renewing the trade licences of those companies already operating in Al Maryah Island; establishing a mechanism for ADGM and DED to cooperate wherever they may need to in the future; cooperating in the exchange of information regarding regulations, standards and business classifications to ensure consistency between them.

Full commercial regulations, already published after a public consultation process, have been posted on ADGM’s website.


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