Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”) is an international financial center for local, regional, and international institutions established as an independent legal jurisdiction in Abu Dhabi in 2013. The ADGM draws significant similarities to the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”), which is a well reputed and leading financial center established in 2002.
ADGM and DIFC are different from other free zones within the UAE, as they have their own legislation and are legally considered as separate jurisdictions. Both ADGM and DIFC have strong basis in common law, distinguishing them from the UAE civil law regime.
Below, is a table summarizing the key points of the newly adopted startup licenses by each jurisdiction.
ADGM Tech Start-up Commercial License
DIFC FinTech Commercial License
○ Technology-driven startups with the potential to scale.
○ Entrepreneurs from all nationalities.
○ Full operational commercial license with a two-year limit and can later be converted into a long-term commercial license.
○ Not required to rent a physical office.
○ Can obtain up to four residential visas based on the registered address.
○ Annual license fee of USD 700.
○ The ADGM is regulated by three main authorities:
○ FinTech startup
○ InsurTech startup
○ RegTech startup
○ Full operational commercial license.
○ Access to flexible co-working space at the DIFC Work Hub.
○ Annual license fee of USD 1,600.
○ Application for visas is dependent on office space, generally one (1) visa per 80 square feet.
○ The DIFC is regulated by three main authorities: