Abu Dhabi issues more than 25,000 new economic licences in 2021 amid recovery

The UAE capital recorded an annual rise of about 22 per cent in the number of licences issued last year

Abu Dhabi issued 273 foreign investor licences in 2021, up from six in 2020. Khushnum Bhandari/ The National

The number of new economic licences issued in Abu Dhabi rose about 22 per cent in 2021 to 25,427 as the emirate’s economy continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the back of new government initiatives.

Nearly 16 more economic licences (83,484) were also renewed last year, indicating “continued post-pandemic recovery, growth, and development”, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added) said in its Business Activity Report released on Thursday.

Foreign investor licences in the emirate surged to 273 in 2021 compared with six in 2020, while freelance licences increased to 1,749 from 279 in 2020. The department also issued 11 virtual licences for non-resident foreign investors last year.

“As a result of the emirate’s pre-emptive approach towards tackling the effects of the pandemic while prudently driving the macro-economy forward, Abu Dhabi was able to forge ahead successfully with its growth and diversification roadmap,” said Rashed Al Blooshi, undersecretary of Added.

Abu Dhabi was quick to respond to the economic challenges posed by the pandemic and launched a number of new projects to support the business sector. It cut business set-up fees by more than 90 per cent and introduced a professional licence offering 100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses related to 604 activities.

Abu Dhabi's non-oil economy grew an annual 4.1 per cent last year, driven by the government’s robust economic policies and the emirate’s speedy recovery from the pandemic, data from the Statistics Centre — Abu Dhabi (SCAD) showed.

“Initiatives such as the Investor Journey programme which was responsible for driving a 71 per cent reduction in business set-up requirements in co-ordination with 26 local and federal government entities, and the lowering of Added setup and renewal fees by 90 per cent, have facilitated ease of doing business for investors and entrepreneurs,” Mr Al Blooshi said.

The emirate issued 25,427 new licences last year, up 21.5 per cent from the previous year.

Among the 25,427 licences issued in 2021, commercial sector licences accounted for 24,077, up more than 21 per cent annually, while professional sector licences rose nearly 36 per cent to 711. Tourism sector licences also grew more than 41 per cent to 126 in 2021.

Industrial sector licences increased more than 14 per cent to 206 and occupational sector licences rose 9 per cent to 243 last year, Added said.

“We are witnessing the gradual and calculated growth of businesses across all sectors and industries and this is testament to the efforts made towards taking Abu Dhabi’s economy through to the next level of its evolution,” said Mohammed Al Mansouri, executive director of the Abu Dhabi Business Centre.

Updated: April 07, 2022, 10:17 AM