The pace of innovation is accelerating, and industries are emerging and evolving at an unprecedented rate. With next-generation technologies like AI, blockchain and edge computing transforming the way we do business, the future is being shaped today.
For businesses with the agility, innovation and resilience to thrive in this dynamic market, there is an enormous opportunity to lead the way – but to make the most of the opportunity, they must have access to a supporting and enriching environment.
Abu Dhabi has the talent, pioneering spirit and openness to new ideas, as well as the financial and regulatory support, to provide businesses with the launchpad they need to excel. Having ranked as one of the smartest cities in the region in the Smart Cities Index, and home to powerful business enablers including the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the emirate is designed to empower entrepreneurs and investors.
ADIO is at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s proposition for international investors and entrepreneurs. In 2021, ADIO launched eight new international offices, in Beijing, Berlin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul and Tel Aviv, to bring its support closer to investors around the world, and ramped up its AED2bn Innovation Programme, which is partnering with the most exciting, pioneering entrepreneurs across sectors.
The geographic advantage
The emirate of Abu Dhabi is ideally located for doing business with the rest of the world, with outstanding trade links with Africa, Asia and Europe. The emirate is within an eight-hour flight of 80% of the world’s population. For businesses looking to scale up, Abu Dhabi is the gateway to huge market opportunities, including emerging economies.
The emirate is also home to Khalifa Port, MEASA’s first semi-automated container port and part of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD). Currently home to more than 600 companies, KIZAD is a free zone and integrated trade, logistics and industrial hub offering state-of-the-art trade and logistics facilities. Its world-class infrastructure gives companies access to over 4.5 billion international consumers.
The talented population
Abu Dhabi offers an outstanding quality of life, having been ranked the safest city in the world for the past five years and the most liveable city in the Middle East and North Africa. The deep and competitive talent pool here makes it an ideal place to set up business headquarters.
Welcoming more than 11 million annual visitors for business and tourism, the emirate is home to outstanding attractions, including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Al Ain oasis, the UAE’s first Unesco World Heritage Site.
The future-forward governance
Abu Dhabi’s government is future-facing and dynamic. Its economic vision focuses on diversifying away from oil by investing in high-growth sectors and the knowledge economy. In 2021, Abu Dhabi reduced business set-up fees by 71%.
The government has created a uniquely enabling regulatory environment, which includes five free zones offering 100% foreign ownership, full repatriation of capital and exemption from import, export, corporate and personal taxes.
Ghadan 21 is the government’s AED50bn accelerator programme, focusing on economy, knowledge and community. It reaches its conclusion at the end of 2021 after three successful years, an example of the long-term support provided by a visionary and business-friendly government that gives investors and innovators the stability they need to seize the most exciting opportunities.
The spirit of innovation
Abu Dhabi is home to world-class facilities for innovative entrepreneurs.
Hosting over 100 start-ups, Hub71 provides programmes, services and equity incentives to empower entrepreneurs to unlock opportunities for global growth. ADGM is an award-winning international financial centre that provides a wide spectrum of financial services and state-of-the-art facilities.
Innovative businesses have access to some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala Investment Company.
This has made Abu Dhabi the best location for innovation in the region, according to the Global Innovation Index 2020. There is no better option for investors and entrepreneurs seeking to transform markets.
The technological foundation
As well as institutional support for innovation, Abu Dhabi has been investing in the essential technology infrastructure. The emirate offers near-universal high-speed broadband and was one of the three fastest cities in the world to roll out 5G in 2021.
The Advanced Technology Research Council guides technological investment and focuses on attracting the brightest and best in technological talent.
This foundation, along with strong and diverse support for innovation of all kinds, has made Abu Dhabi a forerunner in a huge variety of cutting-edge sectors, including fintech, healthtech, AgTech, medtech, RegTech and edtech.
Abu Dhabi is a global leader when it comes to creating an environment that nurtures businesses, innovators and investors alike.
Download the whitepaper to read more about the opportunities to be explored in Abu Dhabi.