The Entrepreneurial Journey (2023)

The Entrepreneurial Journey (1)

Start-up, scale up and grow. No matter what stage of the entrepreneurial journey you’re at, in Abu Dhabi you’ll be able to access support and find opportunities to help turn an entrepreneurial idea into a successful business

The Entrepreneurial Journey (2)

Find support

When it comes to startups, speed matters. As a growing hub for global entrepreneurs, Abu Dhabi is streamlining business setup procedures and centralising access to the important information you’ll need to hit the ground running.

  • How do I start a business in Abu Dhabi?
  • How can I get a trade licence for my business?
  • Will I need to pay VAT or corporate tax on my business?
  • What if I want to set up a tech business?

Starting a business in Abu Dhabi

The Entrepreneurial Journey (3)

With a stable and fast-growing economy, Abu Dhabi is the perfect launch pad for your business.

There are five business free zones in Abu Dhabi, which allow 100 per cent foreign ownership, including Abu Dhabi Global Market, Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, Masdar City Free Zone, Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone and twofour54.

Start a business

The TAMM portal centralises several government services in one platform. Here, you'll find an A-Z guide on how to start a business.

Visit TAMM

Explore free zones

TAMM has an overview of Abu Dhabi’s free zones

Visit TAMM

Apply for a licence

Abu Dhabi Business Center (ADBC) offers instant business licences in a matter of minutes

Instant licence

Applying for a trade licence

Businesses setting up in one of Abu Dhabi’s five free zones can take advantage of their hassle-free setup process. Businesses outside of these can apply online for an Instant Licence, which will have your business ready to launch in just a few clicks.

Explore free zones

Apply for a licence

Abu Dhabi Business Center (ADBC) offers instant business licences in a matter of minutes

Instant licence

Paying tax or VAT on your business

Abu Dhabi-based companies pay 0% corporation tax, making it an incredibly business-friendly environment.

A five per cent VAT levy is payable on almost all consumer goods and services. However, this is significantly lower than in many other countries.

Registration for VAT is required for businesses with supplies or services valued at more than AED 375,000 over a period of 12 months, or who expect to produce taxable products exceeding that amount in the next 30 days.

Explore taxation

The UAE government website provides all the information you need on taxation in the UAE

UAE taxes

Setting up a tech business

Abu Dhabi Global Market is Abu Dhabi's award-winning financial centre, which offers a Tech Licence via its digital application process to tech entrepreneurs working in any field.

Working at the forefront of innovation, AGDM recently unveiled its Digital Sandbox, a platform that enables financial institutions and startups to connect and share data and ideas. It is also the first IFC in the region to apply Common Law, which is practised through ADGM’s unique, fully digital courts.

Hub71 is a tech ecosystem that brings together VC providers, business enablers and strategic partners to help tech startups succeed. It has already welcomed 51 companies to its Incentive Programme, which offers free and subsidised housing, office space and healthcare to seed-stage and emergent startups.

Apply for a licence


Incentives for R&D

Abu Dhabi is focused on creating a world-class R&D ecosystem —which is why, over the next five years, Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) will allocate up to AED 4 billion in rebates through its Corporate R&D fund to distinguished firms that wish to expand their R&D operations or commit to new projects in Abu Dhabi.

Explore incentives

Find out how Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO)'s corporate R&D fund could help you


Find growth

To scale a startup into a sustainable business, you’ll need information about R&D incentives, venture capital opportunities and investment, as well as mentors and best business practice. While you’re busy building the next big thing, here are some things to consider.

  • What VC opportunities are there?
  • What support and incentives are available to startups?
  • What support is available for innovation?
  • Are there mentoring programmes I can access?

Accessing venture capital

There are a growing number of VC firms in Abu Dhabi, many of which operate out of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Among those is Hub71, a tech ecosystem that brings together VC providers, business enablers and strategic partners to help tech startups succeed.

Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) supports startups through Series B financing and beyond, and is working to increase access to capital through fund matching, and by partnering with global accelerators. Its Investor Care service helps to guide businesses through the set-up and financing process.


Explore ADIO

ADIO Investor Care Service

Startup Incentives

Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) helps domestic and international investors and businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, to establish and grow in Abu Dhabi. Through its Ventures Fund, it supports the growth of startups in Abu Dhabi by increasing access to capital.

Hub71 is a global tech ecosystem that brings together key enablers for startups to succeed.

Abu Dhabi Global Market(ADGM) is Abu Dhabi's award-winning financial centre, which offers a Tech Licence to tech entrepreneurs working in any field in a supportive regulatory environment with access to venture capital.

The Catalyst is the region’s first sustainability-focused accelerator. Supported by Masdar and BP (British Petroleum), it supports early-stage startups working in clean technology through the funding, training and mentorship phases.

Discover startup incentives

Discover incentives

Find out more about the people helping to grow Abu Dhabi's business landscape


The Catalyst



ADGM is Abu Dhabi’s financial centre, which offers a Tech Licence to tech entrepreneurs


Support for R&D and innovation

Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) provides packages designed to accelerate innovation in sectors with high growth potential.

Agtech incentives

Among those are agtech (agriculture technology), for which ADIO has introduced a three-year programme with up to AED 1bn in cash and non-cash incentives for innovators working within the sector to find food and water solutions in desert environments, and who are looking to expand their operations in Abu Dhabi.

Finding mentoring: accelerators and incubators

Abu Dhabi has plenty of support on offer, with several accelerators and incubators helping to guide startups from seed-stage to launch.

Plug and Play ADGM’s three accelerator programmes support startups in fintech, travel & hospitality, and health; while those innovating in sustainability and cleantech can find support from The Catalyst. Krypto Labs is an innovation lab that nurtures entrepreneurs with impactful ideas. Entrepreneurs can also take a range of training programmes through StartAD, based at New York University – Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).

Plug and Play ADGM

The Catalyst

Explore Krypto Labs

Explore StartAD

Meet the entrepreneurs

The next generation of ideas is taking shape in Abu Dhabi. Find out why it is fertile ground for the thought leaders, innovators and pioneers of tomorrow.

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Pure Harvest Smart FarmsGrowing food in the desertThis greenhouse produces 500 tonnes of tomatoes a year without a speck of dirt. It’s a promising solution to the growing problem of feeding the world.

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Dr. Hawaa Al MansouriA hub for medical innovationThis startup founder was the first non-American woman to graduate from her university, and later patented a groundbreaking time- and labour-saving medical device. She believes Abu Dhabi can be the next innovation hub for medical technology.

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Ashlene Ramadan Innovation matchmakersIn an environment rich with opportunities for startups, this venture capital company has a goal to create an entrepreneurship hub in Abu Dhabi.

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Geoffrey AlphonsoPioneering AI for educationThis company believes artificial intelligence can engage pupils and help them to learn better. In doing so, it could transform the learning landscape for both students and schools.

Discover More

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