In 2017, Abu Dhabi became one of the top 25 global financial cities, according to the 22nd edition of the Global Financial Centres Index report, which ranks the world’s major financial centres.
One key step in this transformation was the creation of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the international financial centre in Abu Dhabi, in 2013. ADGM was created with the aim of contributing to the UAE’s economic diversification, as well as consolidating long-term growth.
Fully operational since 2015, the ADGM has rapidly transformed the financial environment in the region. Consequently, local and global financial institutions can now conduct activities in the Middle East and wider region that previously had to be undertaken overseas. For UAE-based entities, this means doing business closer to home.
That is why Sovereign is delighted to announce the opening of our third Middle East office, which is located in the Al Maqam Tower, the centrepiece of the ADGM. Sovereign Corporate Services was one of the first ‘corporate service providers’ to be licensed in the new free zone.
Sovereign opened its first Middle East office in Dubai in 1997 and has since established itself as the leading provider of corporate services in the region. With the Bahrain office opening in 2010, Abu Dhabi was the natural ‘next step’ in our continuing regional expansion in the Gulf.
From the Abu Dhabi office, Sovereign will be actively promoting the ADGM Free Zone and the wider Abu Dhabi market to all our clients around the world. The ADGM Free Zone covers the entirety of Al Maryah Island and is made up of three independent authorities: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, the Registration Authority and the ADGM Courts. This means that a business-friendly environment operates in line with international best practices and also ensures that English common law applies directly in ADGM.
Abu Dhabi has a high concentration of sovereign funds, institutional money and high-net-worth individuals. This comes along with political stability, economic security and a high quality of life. Harnessing these strengths, ADGM provides international institutions with a favourable framework to find success in the region.
The ADGM permits 100% foreign ownership, a guarantee of zero taxation for 50 years and no restrictions on repatriating profits. It also offers a flexible, robust, simple and efficient Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) regime that caters to a broad range of business types, uses and industry sectors, including but not limited to, aviation financing and leasing, corporates, sovereign wealth funds, single family offices, trustees and individual investors.
SPVs are corporate vehicles, typically private companies, established for the purpose of isolating financial and legal risk by ring-fencing assets and liabilities. SPVs can be established as subsidiaries, project or joint venture vehicles to ensure that only those assets related to a transaction are exposed to the liabilities associated with that transaction.
Outside of the free zones, the UAE Companies Law requires that UAE corporate entities must be at least 51% owned by a UAE national or by an entity that is wholly owned by UAE nationals. Foreign investors that wish to register a ‘mainland’ company in Abu Dhabi must therefore pass 51% of their shares to a local Emirati ‘sponsor’. For those foreign investors who are reluctant to give up control of their UAE business, Sovereign has a corporate nominee solution to mitigate this requirement.
Sovereign Abu Dhabi is located in office 3529 in Al Maqam Tower. We look forward to welcoming you to our office and to assisting you and/or your clients with setting up in Abu Dhabi.
For further information, please contact us at +971 2 418 7640 or get in touch with us: