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Future Capitals - World Summit & Awards :: TOURISM

Abu Dhabi realizes that achieving its ambitious economic goals requires a steady flow of technology and expertise into the country. Therefore, its policy is to welcome foreign capital and invite it to participate in economic development projects in cooperation with local business. The government's established policy is not to impose any restrictions on the movement of capital into and out of the country and to always respect private ownership.


Establishing an office in Abu Dhabi

In order to establish a branch office in Abu Dhabi, a foreign company must get approval from the Executive Council and the Federal Ministry of Economy and Commerce, as well as a license from the Abu Dhabi Municipality and be accepted as a member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce. Additional specific approvals may be required from various Federal Ministries and local government departments depending on the intended activities of the branch. Limited liability companies (“LLCs”) can be established in Abu Dhabi by foreign companies to conduct most types of business as long as the foreign investor holds a maximum of no more than 49% of the shares. At least 51% of the share capital of the company must be held by one or more UAE nationals, or by a company wholly owned by UAE nationals. LLCs need a trade license and other forms of registration in order to legally conduct business in Abu Dhabi.


In terms of land ownership, foreign companies or individuals cannot own land in Abu Dhabi. All land in the Emirate is owned by the Ruler, HH Sheikh Zayed, and therefore all sales of land require the consent of the Ruler. UAE nationals may own land if approved by His Highness. Foreign companies and individuals may lease land from Abu Dhabi landlords for any period up to a maximum of eight years for the purpose of construction. Leases of buildings must be registered with the Registrar of Lands, Abu Dhabi Municipality if they are for a term exceeding four years.

Taxes and Tariffs:

Oil and gas producing companies pay corporation tax at a flat rate of 50% on their taxable income. Foreign banks pay a 20% tax on profits. There are no personal income taxes in Abu Dhabi. There are no withholding taxes, value added or sales taxes. There is a 4% customs tariff on goods imported from countries outside the GCC. There are, however, many detailed exemptions to these rules and these should be carefully checked especially in relation to inter-GCC trading. Duties of over 50% are levied on alcohol and tobacco products and are expected to increase.

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