Abu Dhabi’s new financial freezone begins operations

Abu Dhabi Global Market will initially focus on sectors such as wealth management, asset management and private banking



Abu Dhabi Global Market, the emirate’s new financial freezone, announced that it has formally commenced operations.

The zone’s regulator Financial Services Regulatory Authority will accept and approve financial service licence application from October 21, a statement said.

In June, ADGM started accepting license applications from non-financial services firms and also issued draft laws covering fund management, market operations, information disclosure and enforcement of its rules.

Bankers say that the new zone in Al Maryah Island has the potential to rival the rapidly expanding Dubai International Financial Centre due to Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth. ADGM will also have its own court, a regulator (FSRA) and various tax incentives to attract global players to the zone.

“We have been steadfast in our strategy of building an IFC based on collaboration and input from local, regional and international institutions to ensure that we offer a jurisdiction that provides businesses with what they need and want in order to grow and succeed,” said ADGM chairman Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh.

“As we look ahead, we will continue developing ADGM with our Courts’ regulations currently in open market consultation phase and the announcement of our Courts’ judges to be made imminently.”

Currently, ADGM is consulting the public on its draft regulations of the Courts that will help in establishing the framework of ADGM Courts and judicial system.

Al Sayegh added that the ADGM’s initial focus will be on “Abu Dhabi’s strengths” such as wealth management, asset management and private banking. But the zone has the flexibility to host more financial institutions from various other verticals later on, he clarified.

In 2013, the Abu Dhabi government had announced that the ADGM will host diverse range of companies from banks, foreign exchanges, commodity traders, brokerages, investment funds and even Islamic finance institutions.

Abu Dhabi’s efforts to develop the financial free zone are part of the emirate economic diversification strategy. The government is also be looking to duplicate the success that the neighbouring Dubai has seen with its zone DIFC, which announced an ambitious expansion strategy earlier this year.