In a landmark decision announced by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), Abu Dhabi DED has launched the first phase of its Dual Licenses Initiative, which enables companies to both operate in the Emirate’s free zones and carry out their commercial activities onshore in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.

This will reduce the cost of doing business, improve the emirate’s competitiveness as well as attract more foreign companies to the emirate.

The first phase is open to those companies which are headquartered in Abu Dhabi and based in one of its free zones. A Comprehended scheme for the second phase initiative is currently being developed, This will allow more companies to qualify for a dual license.  Also, this initiative allows companies to expand their work outside the free zones in which they are based, further increasing their contribution to the economy.

The move is aligned with the recent economic initiatives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, that include multiple initiatives to improve the ease of doing business in the Emirate and support entrepreneurs, SMEs and the private sector.

Saif Al Hajeri, chairman, Department of Economic Development – Abu Dhabi said,  “Dual licensing is the latest in a series of initiatives we have launched to support entrepreneurs, SMEs and the private sector, which are all key engines of the economy. In its first phase, the initiative will offer companies more opportunities to do business and grow, such as allowing them to work and partner with other government entities”

Eligible companies will need to present a non-objection certificate from their free zone, an undertaking that states no ownership of branches located outside the free zone, and a photocopy of the parent company’s free-zone license. After the application is submitted, it will be transferred for primary approval. Once approved, the license will be printed upon the payment of the required fees.

The license time-frame depends on the activity. Over 90 per cent are immediate activities and those are completed within 20 minutes. Other activities with a technical nature require approvals from certain entities, and those are completed within 2 to 3 days, in accordance with the service agreement.

Meanwhile, the department’s expanded Tajer Abu Dhabi licence package – which previously only supported Emiratis – is now open to all entrepreneurs in the UAE, allowing new companies to obtain commercial licences without an office or physical presence for two years. This allows entrepreneurs to officially work from home for the first time.

The UAE has introduced other reforms aimed at boosting economic growth. Measures announced over the last few months include the waiving of corporate fines in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership in companies in selected sectors from the end of this year.


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