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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

How To Start A Business In Abu Dhabi Without Leasing Office Space

5th February 2023 (Updated 11th April 2023 and where indicated throughout.)

Traditionally, starting a business in Abu Dhabi required leasing a suitable commercial premise as part of the process for getting a trade license issued. As part of the Abu Dhabi government's initiatives to attract FDI into the emirate and make it more attractive for doing business, you can now start a business in Abu Dhabi without leasing an office space.

By erasing and reducing the requirements to lease office space to get an Abu Dhabi trade license issued, it is now much easier and cheaper for entrepreneurs and startups to apply for their business license to operate in the capital of the UAE.

Four ways to start a business in Abu Dhabi without an office lease

  1. Abu Dhabi’s Freelance license doesn’t require a commercial lease. Ideal for one-man bands and individual entrepreneurs with specialist skills who only ever intend to stay small. Check out one of our previous blog posts with everything you need to know about the Abu Dhabi freelancer license.

  2. Abu Dhabi’s Trader License (previously called the Tajer license) enables a business to setup and operate for the first three years without a commercial lease. (Previously, it was for two years. It is not clear if the three years is a permanent amendment or if it will just be for a temporary period.) Ideal for start-ups wanting to test the market. (A commercial space is required from year three onwards.)

  3. Abu Dhabi’s Instant license enables companies to get licensed straight away and fulfil the requirement of having a commercial premise, later. Ideal for companies which need to get licensed quickly. It gives them three months to evaluate potential locations and premises, at which point they need to register the Tawtheeq contract (commercial lease) with the authorities.

  4. Specific Abu Dhabi Business Activities Abu Dhabi's Department of Economic Development has removed the commercial premises requirement for 30% of its business activities, for the first year of operations. This ease of starting a business applies to a massive 1,200 activities, giving new businesses time to mobilize and develop. The selected activities cover a wide range in the following sectors:

  • Rental and installation activities

  • Contracting, maintenance and installation activities

  • Consulting and services activities

  • Sewing and detailing activities

  • Transportation activities

  • Salons and beauty centers activities

  • Management offices activities

  • Investment activities

  • Selling meals and kitchens activities

Exemption is for the first year only. A commercial lease (Tawtheeq contract) will be required when renewing the economic license at the end of year one.

Updated 1st September 2023

Whats the difference between the business licenses in Abu Dhabi?

Discover Gateway Group's complete guides to the Abu Dhabi business licenses. Written in an easy-to-understand style, our business license guides provide all the information you need to know before setting up your business. Find out about the legal structure and ownership, premises requirements, who can apply, the requirements, visas, exit strategy and so much more. Our current selection of guides includes:

It's now easier than ever to start your side hustle in Abu Dhabi; become your own boss in Abu Dhabi or start freelancing in Abu Dhabi. Take action and get started today.

Updated 9th September 2023

***Abu Dhabi Freelancer Packages - Now Available Online***

exclusive Abu Dhabi business setup packages freelancer license setup and freelance visa packages available

Start your own freelancing business or side hustle in Abu Dhabi. Discover Gateway Group's exclusive business setup packages and have the confidence you are legally taking on freelance work in Abu Dhabi, with your own trade license issued by the DED.

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Need a residence visa? No problem. Our collection of freelancer business setup packages includes 'license only' and 'visa package' options.

Are you ready to become your own boss in Abu Dhabi? Click the 'Shop Now' button.


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Written by Jenny Hunt

Founder, Gateway Group, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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