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Guide to starting a business in Abu Dhabi 2023

August 23, 2023by Kate Williams

Abu Dhabi is one of the best places to form a company. It has an easy connection with different foreign economies, in addition to its own booming market. Setting up a small business, like a vending machine business in the UAE, is relatively simple and also takes little time.  However, you may need the help of an advisor like us, Connect Services Middle East, to simplify these procedures even more.

In this article, you will learn about the necessary steps to establish a business in Abu Dhabi. This emirate offers a series of benefits for foreign investors. Among these, is the fact that the UAE has the lowest taxes in the world for companies. Likewise, the government has taken a series of measures that encourage foreign investment, such as the possibility of 100% foreign ownership.

1. Why establish your business in Abu Dhabi?

Guide to starting a business in Abu Dhabi

There are many advantages of forming a company in Abu Dhabi. In the first place, it is one of the locations with the best economy in the UAE, in addition to being a safe place for entrepreneurs who want to invest from anywhere in the world. It also offers great transparency and flexibility for new investors. Below are some of the most important advantages of forming a new business in Abu Dhabi:

Guide to starting a business in Abu Dhabi

  • The location of Abu Dhabi is very important for it to be one of the best places to start a business. It has a privileged location between Europe, Asia, and Africa, which makes it easier to enter foreign markets.
  • Abu Dhabi is a very flexible place when it comes to foreign ownership. It offers a tax exemption whether they are business or personal, which is a competitive advantage to establishing a company.
  • A free market economy. Therefore, there are no restrictions and controls at the exchange or commercial level.
  • Abu Dhabi is an emirate with a first-class quality of life. Its facilities are among the best in the world, whether in terms of medical care, housing, recreation, education, among others. This makes it an attractive place not only at a business level but also residentially.

2. What are the steps to starting a business in Abu Dhabi?

Starting a business in Abu Dhabi is a decision that offers many benefits. However, mistakes in the business creation process can result in future problems for the business. For this reason, it is important to have the services of an expert company formation partner, like Connect Services Middle East, to start your business in Abu Dhabi on the right foot.

Here are the steps to start your business in Abu Dhabi:

2.1 Determine the object of the company

It is important to determine the type of commercial activity that your business will carry out. This is extremely crucial since based on this, the requirements that the company must meet will be established. Also, it will be possible to determine what type of licenses are necessary to perform the commercial activity without any problem.

2.2 Find a local sponsor

Under UAE regulations, foreign companies require a local sponsor. This sponsor is a company or service agent owned by UAE citizens. On the other hand, a local sponsor will facilitate the obtaining of licenses. In this way, the new business can carry out its commercial activity.

2.3 Decide the legal form of the company

The rules and regulations are different depending on the form your company takes. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the commercial structure that your business will have.

2.4 Register the company name

The importance of the company name lies in the fact that once it has been registered, no other company can use it.

2.5 Get initial approval

Any foreign entrepreneur must obtain approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs – Abu Dhabi before starting the process to establish a new company.

2.6 Get special approvals

Many companies, depending on their purpose, must obtain approvals or special permits, for which this process must be completed before the competent authorities in the matter. An important point is that this new company registry, together with any license, must be requested through a single system. This system will work for almost all types of business licenses and services.

3. Benefits of creating a company in Abu Dhabi

The procedure for setting up a company in Abu Dhabi is easy if you know all the requirements. Also, there are many benefits to doing business in Abu Dhabi, and understanding these advantages will help you get the most out of your investment. These are some of the most important benefits of starting a business in Abu Dhabi.

  • For the registration of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Abu Dhabi, it is easy to obtain a business license, visas, lease of business premises, and open a bank account 
  • The investor can become a shareholder of the company.
  • The investor can carry out the administration of the company without the permanent interference of the local partners.
  • Better freight cost compared to other emirates.

These advantages make it easy and lucrative for any investor to start a business in Abu Dhabi. But for a person who does not know this market at first, it can be complicated. For this reason, having the services of a consultant like Connect Services Middle East will make your investment even more lucrative. Our company will advise you on the most attractive investment areas found in the market, and more.

4. Business formation in Abu Dhabi

Guide to starting a business in Abu Dhabi

It is necessary to know the company formation regulations in Abu Dhabi in order to establish a company in this place. To do this, you must take advantage of the required licenses. There are the commercial configuration modalities of the Free Zone in Abu Dhabi or the commercial configuration in Mainland Abu Dhabi, which you can choose according to your type of business.

4.1 Free zone companies in Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Free Zone offers a number of business benefits in different sectors. Setting up a free zone company in Abu Dhabi entails single window administration, whereby an entrepreneur can supply all their information to only one agency and is authorized as a separate jurisdiction. This allows a foreign investor to be the sole owner of the company at 100%.  In addition, the Abu Dhabi Free Zone authority provides foreign investors with the opportunity to register their business without major complications.

Likewise, the Abu Dhabi Free Zones are a strategy for the economic diversification of this area to boost the local economy and promote foreign investment. Businesses in free zones mainly comprise medium and light companies, logistics companies, and medium and heavy industries. To promote foreign investment, benefits, and facilities are offered for those who establish a company in the Free Zones of Abu Dhabi.

There are also dual licenses for companies in the Abu Dhabi Free Zones. In this way, companies will be able to work outside the Free Zones and participate in government tenders, which is an incentive for the creation of new companies with foreign capital.

Additionally, free zone companies that do not operate in the local territory are also exempt from the tax regime. So, entrepreneurs who decide to locate in this area will enjoy the benefit of zero taxes on profits and income. 

The Free Zone authorities in Abu Dhabi provide the following licenses:

4.2 Continental company in Abu Dhabi

A continent is a geographical area outside a free zone, under the government of the UAE. These zones can market on the mainland but cannot do so in the Free Zones. They have regulations that make Abu Dhabi one of the most prosperous and advanced economies in the UAE. A foreign company established in the Continental Zone in Abu Dhabi can conduct business in the UAE, in addition to having 100% ownership of the company.

5. What documents are needed to incorporate a company in Abu Dhabi?

In the event that the shareholder or investor is an individual, the documents required to set up a company in the United Arab Emirates are the following:

  • Three possible names for the company sorted by priority.
  • Type of commercial activity.
  • Copy of the passport of the shareholders and the manager of the company.
  • Residence visa or last stamp of entry to the UAE of the passport in case of having a tourist visa of the shareholders and the manager of the company.
  • Certificate of “no objection” from the Government if the shareholder or manager has a UAE residence visa.
  • Educational certificate stamped and validated by the country of origin and by the United Arab Emirates. This is necessary for specific activities such as engineering.

For the incorporation of branches, the following must be added to the previous documents:

  • Resolution of the shareholders meeting approving the establishment of a company in the United Arab Emirates and the appointment of the manager.
  • Copy of valid business license.
  • Constitutive documents of the company.
  • Company registration certificate.
  • Certificate of good standing or extract from the corporate registry.

Guide to starting a business in Abu Dhabi

6. A practical example of the facilities for establishing a business in Abu Dhabi

An entrepreneur called X is interested in promoting the vending machine business in the UAE. Previously, X would have been forced to rent an office, which was an expense that might limit this investor to start their vending machine business in the UAE. For this reason, X would certainly have chosen to work under the license of another company, which could represent significant restrictions for them. 

In fact, there are certain types of activities that do not need offices and are also limited by them, since their business requires mobility around different areas of the city. Currently, thanks to the new initiatives in favor of new investments, X will be able to open their own vending machine business in the UAE and, at the same, time work from home. 

In this way, you can see that you will not need to spend money unnecessarily. You will have the freedom of movement that the business requires, as you comply with the necessary regulations, being duly licensed to operate without difficulty.

It is also very important to have a consulting company to advise you with your UAE vending machine license procedures, in addition to anything related to how to start a vending machine business in the UAE. Local business formation experts understand the market like no one, saving your company time and effort.

7. Vending machine business in the UAE

Vending machines are an excellent source of passive income. Let us learn about the vending machine business in the UAE.

Having a vending machine business has certain advantages and challenges. These are:


  • High-profit percentage for each sale (from 100% to 400%).
  • No need to invest a lot of money
  • You can scale as you increase your earnings.
  • It is not a difficult business to manage.
  • There is no need to work in a specific place like an office


  • It will take about a year to recoup the initial investment per machine.
  • It can be competitive.
  • Finding the ideal place can be the hardest part.

8. How can we help you set up a company in Abu Dhabi?

As a foreign investor, it can feel like a complex task to have to deal with all this process on your own. For this reason, on our agency, we are here to offer you the help and advice you need to successfully establish your business. We are company setup consultants in Abu Dhabi with vast experience in this market and many others.

 We are your best ally for the settlement of your new business in Abu Dhabi! Take a look at some of our solutions:

Guide to starting a business in Abu Dhabi

If you want to establish your business in the UAE, the first thing you should do is request expert assistance. We have all the knowledge, connections, tools, and resources you need to thrive in this booming market. Contact us through our phone number: +971 43 316 688 and request a free appointment with one of our advisors. In this way, you will easily know everything about the Abu Dhabi regulations, our latest offers and packages, and anything you wish to ask us. Also, email us now at for more.

Kate Williams

Kate is the Global Strategy Director at Connect Group. She is specialized in business setup in dubai , international business expansion and employee relocation. She studied in Southampton (United Kingdom) and moved to the UAE in 2014.

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