ADGM expects more companies to set up operations at Abu Dhabi’s financial centre

Exclusive: More than 1,000 companies joined Abu Dhabi Global Market in the first six months of the year, a top executive says

Dhaher Bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of the Registration Authority at ADGM. Victor Besa / The National
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Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) expects more companies to set up operations at the financial centre because of the business-friendly policies of the government, according to a top executive.

There are more than 5,400 companies registered and licensed at the ADGM and the number will grow, Dhaher Al Mheiri, chief executive of the registration authority of the ADGM, told The National during Abu Dhabi Finance Week.

In the first six months of the year, more than 1,000 companies set up operations at the ADGM, from financial and non-financial sectors.

“Our numbers will keep growing. We are a platform for businesses to choose and with the growth of the UAE, we grow together,” Mr Al Mheiri said.

Companies are starting operations at the ADGM as the UAE's economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic on the back of higher oil prices and new government initiatives.

In February, Thailand’s state-owned oil and gas company PTT opened a new trading office at ADGM as the emirate seeks to establish itself as a global commodities trading hub.

Kraken, one of the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, secured a regulatory licence from the ADGM to operate its virtual asset trading platform, it said in April.

Blockchain services provider Binance will also offer its services from the ADGM, the company said on Wednesday.

“Abu Dhabi is the destination not just for the local market and the UAE, not just for the region, but global,” Mr Al Mheiri said.

“This all comes with the Abu Dhabi brand. Today [it] is the safest city in the world, people who move here get world-class infrastructure.”

Government initiatives, including the expansion of the 10-year Golden Visa programme and free trade agreements with different countries are “giving people confidence”, to expand their business operations to the UAE.

This year, the UAE signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (Cepa) with India, Indonesia and Israel, and is currently in negotiations with Turkey, Georgia, Colombia and Cambodia.

The UAE is also offering incentives to attract hundreds of digital companies to set up in the country as part of a programme to draw more foreign direct investment and position itself as a global tech centre.

Under the first phase of the NextGenFDI initiative, the Emirates aims to attract 300 digital companies within six months to a year, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in July.

Israeli companies are also opening offices in the capital’s financial centre following the normalisation of ties between Tel Aviv and the UAE.

The ADGM currently has more than 20 entities from Israel in the technology arena including FinTech, AgriTech and EdTech, Mr Al Mheiri said.

Indian companies are also looking to set up their operations in the capital as ties between the UAE and Asia’s third-largest economy strengthen after the signing of a Cepa earlier this year.

“India is home to more than 90 unicorns [start-ups with a value of more than $1 billion] and people who want to use the UAE to tap into global markets,” Mr Al Mheiri said.

“Business flow from India is coming very well, especially in the technology sector.”

Occupancy levels at ADGM-regulated buildings at Al Maryah Island grew as a result of higher demand from tenants.

“With the support of the government and our strategic partners, new towers are going to come online to cater to different businesses," Mr Al Mheiri said.

Updated: November 17, 2022, 4:46 AM