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ADGM Expands into Al Reem Island Abu Dhabi

The ADGM is an international financial centre in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. As a Financial Free Zone formed under a federal decree, it is allowed to enact its own legislation. The original jurisdiction and territory of the ADGM was restricted to Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi. This is no longer the case.

What has changed?

The Cabinet issued Resolution No. 41 of 2023 was enacted on 24 April 2023, expanding the jurisdiction and territory of the ADGM to Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi. This expansion results in a tenfold increase in the area of land of the ADGM, making it one of the largest financial districts in the world, as far as the territory is concerned.

Previously governed by UAE federal and Abu Dhabi local laws, from 24 April 2023, Al Reem Island will form part of the ADGM and fall under its legal system.

Why this change?

Over the past years, the popularity of the ADGM continues to increase. This undisputed success means, however, scarcity of the real estate available to ADGM entities. With Al Maryah Island at an 95% occupancy rate, the expansion is very welcome. Businesses, especially those seeking financial service licenses, acutely felt this scarcity as finding office space is a key precondition to being granted with final approval from the ADGM’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority for their financial services permission (FSP).

Now with the expansion, access to Al Reem Island should provide access to a wider range of office spaces at more competitive pricing and hopefully help ease the FSP application process.

How does it impact you?

Al Maryah Island:
This development does not affect existing ADGM establishments.

Al Reem Island:

  • New Applicants: The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (“DED“) has stopped issuing new commercial licenses for Al Reem Island addresses from 30 October 2023. New applicants in Al Reem Island must obtain a commercial license from ADGM.

  • Existing Entities: The following options are available:

Continuance into ADGM: The DED entity may initiate a continuation application with the ADGM Registration Authority in order to obtain a commercial license from the ADGM on or before 31 December 2024. The entity will no longer be registered with the DED and will be governed by the regulatory framework of ADGM. The entity will be required to obtain ADGM visas for its employees and issue new employment contracts pursuant to the ADGM Employment Regulations.

Migrate to Abu Dhabi mainland: The DED entity may continue to be registered with the DED. In this case, it is mandatory for the DED entity to obtain a physical office in the Abu Dhabi mainland. The entity may no longer hold the Al Reem premises and must relocate outside the ADGM Free Zone no later than 31 December 2024.

Please note that branches (as opposed to limited liability companies) existing in Al Reem Island and registered with the DED may not initiate a continuation application with the ADGM Registration Authority. They must register a new branch in ADGM under the same premise in Al Reem Island and proceed with cancellation of their branch license registered with the DED.

Fastest growing financial district

ADGM is the region’s fastest growing international financial centre, and this expansion follows increased demand from both international and regional companies choosing Abu Dhabi as their preferred location to work and live.

Being established in ADGM means joining the only jurisdiction in the region that applies direct application of English common law, getting access to talent, and as a business, operating in a growing and thriving community.

ADGM continues to support and enhance its services for members of its community and highlight what the two islands within its district have to offer.

How we can support your transition

Swiss Group Legal Ltd, your trusted ADGM-registered Corporate Service Provider and legal consultancy. We offer comprehensive commercial, administrative, and legal services tailored for SMEs, corporate multinationals, and private clients. Partner with us for navigating the complexities of business operations and legal compliance.

Specialized services for ADGM setup, mainland establishment, and Al Reem Island relocation

Comprehensive advice on the resolution's impact on your legal entity and operations

Dedicated assistance in understanding ADGM developments and drafting employment contracts

HR/Legal Partnership:
Full commitment to supporting HR and legal teams during the transition process.

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