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Before it actually begins operating, a commercial enterprise must obtain a license that allows it to carry out its chosen economic activity. There are six types of licenses:

Commercial, Agricultural, Crafts, Professional, Industrial and Tourism.

Expatriates desiring to launch a business in Abu Dhabi need to partner with an Emirati. The Emirati partner or partners must own at least 51% of the company’s capital for Limited Liability Companies and as Service agent for 100% foreign establishment and foreign branches. However, this does not apply to companies, which are established and based in the Free Zone, where investors enjoy sole proprietorship.

Commercial License:

Activities such as Trading, Services, Contracting, Real Estate, Transporting, Healthcare have come under Commercial license. Commercial license can be LLC or establishment. Need to get approval from other relevant authorities – this will depend on the nature of the economic activity.

Agricultural License:

Agricultural licenses are issued to the owners of arable and livestock farms, and fisheries.

Crafts License:

Craftsmanship licenses are issued to any person who independently practices a craft for profit, and is dependent on their physical effort, or use of tools and equipment, such as carpentry, printing services, blacksmithing.
• Sponsor/National Service Agent – Each crafts Licence requires a local sponsor. The local sponsor has no equity participation or liability to the business, nor can the person represent the office or participate in its management.

Professional License:

A Professional License is a business for professionals in recognized fields such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants. A Professional LLC license is basically issued to the business dependent on talents and intellectual abilities.
A Civil Company also can be a professional license. Partners of any nationality can practice professional activities in accordance with DED business regulations.
• Activities – As a Professional Service Licence, you are entitled to undertake the activities as per your qualifications/area of expertise.
• Sponsor/National Service Agent – Each Professional Service Licence requires a local sponsor. The local sponsor has no equity participation or liability to the business, nor can the person represent the office or participate in its management.

Industrial License:

The Industry Development Office represents one of the main arteries sustaining the Economic boom in Abu Dhabi. Chief among its roles is creating the ideal environment for the development and growth of the Industrial Sector allowing diversification of the Economy of the Emirate and contribute to realizing a Sustainable Economic Development. The Industry Development Office reflects the aspirations of the Government of Abu Dhabi to boost and enhance the Industrial Sector through structuring and enhancement thereof, and contribute towards the promotion of its products and attract the appropriate investments for this Sector.
Investors or manufacturers who wish to open a factory in Abu Dhabi can avail of the service from the Industrial Development Bureau. To open a factory, at least 51% of the company’s capital must be owned by UAE national/corporate or company-owned completely by UAE National. Factories can’t be oil or gas extraction factories or refineries and mineral ore extraction or purification factories.

Tourism License:

For Travel and Tourism related activity the license type will be tourism. To form a company with tourism-related activity procedures are simple as the Department of Culture & Tourism integrated with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development. We can have LLC or 100% local establishment for tourism activity. We need to appoint a Tourism manager at the time of registering a company with a Tourism Degree or Diploma. He or she can be the partner of the company.


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