How to open a company in Abu Dhabi: Complete Guide

how to open a company in Abu Dhabi

To open a company in Abu Dhabi you can follow the given steps:

  • Step 1: Decide what type of business you want to start
  • Step 2: Choose a unique trade name and get it registered
  • Step 3: Get the approval
  • Step 4: Get a business license
  • You can also apply online at Bashr to start an online business.

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The UAE is famous for its beautiful tourist spots such as Dubai Safari Park and The Miracle Garden, but it’s also a great place for businesses.

The country’s economy is strong and it offers low taxes, making it attractive for foreign investors. The government works hard to make it easy to start a business, especially in the capital city, Abu Dhabi.

 So, whether you want to open your own company or expand an existing one, here is how to open a company in Abu Dhabi.

Opening a Company in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, being the biggest emirate and home to the second-largest population in the UAE, offers fantastic advantages for businesses worldwide.

It’s a great place for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups to aim for big growth. Plus, a recent change in the law allowing 100% foreign ownership in the UAE has created lots of opportunities.

 That’s why many local and foreign companies are considering starting a business in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE has business-friendly policies, and the government encourages investment from both local and global investors.

 Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi is simple and doesn’t involve a lot of complicated paperwork. This makes it easier for entrepreneurs to get started and focus on growing their businesses.

To start a business in Abu Dhabi, follow the steps discussed in detail below.

Step 1: Determining the Business Type

The first thing you need to do is decide what type of business you want to start. The rules and fees for starting a business can vary depending on the type of business you choose. In the UAE, there are six main types of business licenses: industrial, tourism, professional, commercial, agricultural, and occupational. Once you’ve figured out which type of business is right for you, you can start taking care of the legal processes.

When starting a business in Abu Dhabi, it’s crucial to pick the right ownership structure. There are various options available, and each has its own rules and regulations. Here are the options to consider:

  1. General partnership
  2. Limited partnership
  3. Limited liability company (LLC)
  4. Public joint-stock company (PJSC)
  5. Private joint-stock company (PrJSC)
  6. Civil company
  7. Local company branch
  8. GCC company branch
  9. Foreign company branch
  10. Free zone company branch
  11. Sole Establishment
  12. Holding companies

Remember, the legal structure you choose must match the type of business activity you’re planning to undertake. So, it’s essential to do your research and make an informed decision.

Step 3: Getting your Trade Name registered

When starting a business in Abu Dhabi, choosing the right trade name is important.

  1. The proposed name must comply with certain criteria:
  1. It should not violate public order or morals.
  2. It cannot contain names of governing authorities, religions, or external bodies.
  3. Unique names must be followed by the appropriate acronym (e.g., EST, PrJSC).
  4. The name must match the proposed business activity.
  5. It must be unique and not previously registered by another business.
  1. Once you’ve chosen a name, you need to register it at the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Abu Dhabi.
  2. During the registration process, you’ll receive a payment voucher or transaction number. The cost varies depending on the type of business.
  3. Payment must be made within 30 days of registration.
  4. It’s important to note that the DED only registers trade names, and trade name certificates are renewable.
  5. For trademark registration in the UAE, you’ll need to go through the Ministry of Economy.

By following these steps and guidelines, you can ensure that your business name is properly registered and compliant with the regulations in Abu Dhabi.

Step 4: Receiving an Initial Approval

After successfully obtaining a trade name certificate from the Department of Economic Development (DED), you’ll receive initial approval to establish your business in Abu Dhabi. This initial approval is necessary to apply for a business license.

The authority responsible for granting approvals depends on the type of business you intend to establish. Additionally, foreign investors must also seek approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

By obtaining these approvals, you’ll be on your way to officially setting up your business in Abu Dhabi and acquiring the necessary licenses to operate legally.

Step 5: The Memorandum of Association

Certain legal forms of business in Abu Dhabi require a Memorandum of Association (MoA). These include:

  • Limited partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Public joint-stock company (PJSC)
  • Private joint-stock company (PrJSC)

Step 6: Approvals from the government

In certain cases, businesses in Abu Dhabi may require additional approvals from specific government entities. These entities include:

  1. Ministry of Interior
  2. Ministry of Justice
  3. Local Municipal Department
  4. Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA)
  5. Executive Council
  6. Ministry of Economy
  7. Local Health Departments
  8. Supreme Petroleum Council

These government entities play an important role in overseeing various aspects of business operations and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and standards. Depending on the nature of the business and its activities, approvals from one or more of these entities may be needed to proceed with establishment and operation.

Step 7: Issuing a Business License

Once you’ve gone through all the necessary steps to start a business in Abu Dhabi, you can obtain your business license from the service centers of the Economic Departments or through their websites. To get the license for all legal forms, you’ll need the following documents:

  1. Initial approval receipt.
  2. All previously submitted documents.
  3. Copy of lease contract, authenticated by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA).
  4. Duly attested memorandum of association (for all types of companies).
  5. Approvals from other government entities, if required.
  6. Duly attested service agent contract (for civil establishments owned 100% by non-GCC nationals, which also involves local service agents).

Step 8: How to start an online business?

The UAE government has launched a unified online platform called Bashr, which allows you to start an online business in Abu Dhabi within just 15 minutes. This platform is connected with both local and federal government entities that offer commercial license services.

If you’re a resident of Abu Dhabi, you don’t even need to visit service centers anymore. Instead, investors can easily apply for a commercial license online. Simply visit the official website of the UAE Emirates Government Portal to begin the application process. 


How much does it cost to start a company in Abu Dhabi?

The cost starts at AED 25000.

Can a foreigner start a business in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, foreigners can start a business in Abu Dhabi.

Which is the most profitable business in the UAE?

IT solutions is the most profitable business in the UAE.

What business can be started with AED 50000?

With 50,000 AED in Dubai, you can consider starting a food truck or catering business.

Which business license is the cheapest in UAE?

The cheapest trade license in the UAE is offered by Sharjah Media City, with a starting cost as low as AED 8,050 and zero visa fees.

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