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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

What Are The Free Zone Options In Abu Dhabi?

12th January 2015, Updated 10th December 2018

Whilst Dubai is full of free zones covering numerous sectors; Abu Dhabi has less of a choice. However, free zones do exist, so there are opportunities for those companies wanting the benefits of a free zone in Abu Dhabi. It is wise to understand when a freezone is suitable for your business and when it would be better to setup onshore so that you make an informed decision and set up your Abu Dhabi business legally.

Currently there are five free zones in Abu Dhabi.


Abu Dhabi's media free zone. Home to media production, entertainment and marketing-type companies. The aim of the free zone is to provide a collaborative, creative and professional environment. Twofour54 is located on Abu Dhabi island close to Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Khalifa Park.


The industrial free zone located next to Khalifa Port on the mainland in an area called Taweelah, which is about half between Abu Dhabi city and Dubai. Kizad is part free zone and part mainland. Most of the allocated free zone areas were snapped up at launch, so currently only a small free zone availability is currently available in the logistics sector. It is set to become a hub for manufacturing, logistics and trade across various sectors.

Masdar City Free Zone

Masdar's focus is advancing the development, commercialisation and development of renewable energy solutions and clean technologies. It is located between Abu Dhabi Airport and Khalifa City.

Abu Dhabi Airports Business City Free Zone

Abu Dhabi's business and logistics free zone provides warehousing and serviced offices to a broad spectrum of business sectors including aviation, aerospace, defence, airport services, and cargo, among others.

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)

Abu Dhabi's newest free zone, is located in Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, which is the city's new Central Business District. ADGM is an international financial centre, established as a financial free zone to connect the economies of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia to the world. It covers banking, wealth management and asset management.

The benefits of setting up in a free zone

  • 100% foreign ownership

  • 100% corporate and income tax exemptions

  • 100% repatriation of profits

  • No Custom Duties

  • Independent regulations

Restrictions of setting up in a free zone

  • Restricted to working within the geographic limits of the free zone

  • Generally not possible to work directly with Abu Dhabi government

  • To export goods onto the mainland, customer duty must be paid and an agent must be appointed

Dual Licenses enable free zone companies to work onshore

It is now possible free zone companies to apply for a dual license. This license enables them to work onshore and to engage directly with government entities. There is strict criteria for the free zone company to meet and this option is only available for certain license activities, generally services activities. More information about dual licenses can be obtained from one of our earlier articles: How Abu Dhabi Free Zone Companies Can Operate Onshore.

Gateway Group helps great companies to setup and succeed in Abu Dhabi

Gateway Group are experts in Abu Dhabi company formation. We use our on the ground knowledge and experience, as well as our large network of connections to help companies with their market entry. We have a proven track record of speedy, hassle free business setups for government entities, royal family, multinationals and SMEs. To get started with setting up your free zone company email us:

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, UAE


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