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    About

    Al Reem Island Expansion

    About Jurisdiction Al Reem Island Expansion

    Operations on Al Reem Island

    On the 24th of April 2023, ADGM increased its jurisdiction following the expansion into Al Reem Island. ADGM is pleased to share further information regarding the transitional arrangements to support the expansion and provide further guidance to businesses on Al Reem.

    For new business applications

    From the 1st November 2023, businesses planning to establish a new presence in Al Reem Island will need to submit their licence application to ADGM. If you’re a business planning to establish in Al Reem and would like more information, please complete our enquiry form. If you’re ready to submit your application, please visit ADGM’s online registry to start the process.

    For existing businesses

    For existing businesses in Al Reem, you can continue to operate as usual and remain exempt from ADGM’s regulations, registration, and licensing requirements up to, and including 31st December 2024.

    This transition period allows time for existing businesses in Al Reem to obtain the appropriate licence and permits to remain and operate within ADGM’s jurisdiction.

    For further clarity on the updates regarding business operations, including regulations, registration, and licensing, on Al Reem Island, please refer to our FAQs.

    2 Islands, 1 District Resources FAQs Dispute Resolution FAQs Contact Us News

    ADGM, 2 Islands, 1 District

    The 24th of April was a significant milestone for Abu Dhabi, and for ADGM. With its unique application of English common law, diverse talent pool, and thriving community, being established in ADGM offers unparalleled business opportunities. Following the issuance of the UAE Cabinet Resolution No. 41 of 2023, Abu Dhabi Global Market, the International Financial Centre of Abu Dhabi, expanded its jurisdiction to include both Al Maryah Island and Al Reem Island. The expansion aligns with Abu Dhabi’s diversification strategy, where the financial sector will continue to play a pivotal role in the UAE’s economy and vision for the future.

    Resources

    Guidance Notes

    The guidance notes available on this page are prepared to assist applicants in the process of obtaining ADGM licenses. The target audience of the guidance notes are existing businesses on Al Reem Island and new applicants.

    Guidance Note – Al Reem Expansion
    How to register a lease on Al Reem Island

    Download our quick guide on how to use Department of Municipalities and Transport (‘DMT’) portal to register an office lease for premises on Al Reem Island.

    Guidance Note – Lease Registration
    Further resources for applicants

    The following pages contain information on preparing and submitting your application, checklist of required documents, business activities, schedule of fees, documents and information to support your application.

    Read more
    Business Activities

    An integral part of the application for registration of a legal entity with ADGM Registration Authority is selection of business activities which the applicant intends to conduct from and within ADGM. In order to identify the activity code and description, please download a full list of business activities by clicking on the ‘Business Activities’ button below. Please select required activity. For ease of reference, the downloadable list contains comparison between Abu Dhabi DED list of business activities and ADGM list of activities. If you cannot find the same code or description, please select the closest match to your current activities.

    Business Activities
    Frequently Asked Questions

    To address your enquiries regarding ADGM and the expansion on Al Reem Island, whether you're a business planning to establish a presence in ADGM, an existing business, or a member of the community, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). These FAQs are regularly updated to offer more detailed information and guidance.

    1. What does the expansion of ADGM’s jurisdiction mean?

    Al Reem Island was governed by UAE federal and Abu Dhabi laws. From 24 April 2023 when the Cabinet Resolution No. (41) of 2023 was issued expanding the jurisdiction of ADGM to Al Reem Island, ADGM’s legal and regulatory frameworks became applicable in Al Reem Island. However, ADGM Board has approved a transitional period, ending 31 December 2024, to allow all businesses on Al Reem Island to meet the relevant requirements of ADGM’s legal and regulatory framework by the end of the transitional period

    2. What benefits does ADGM's expansion to Al Reem Island offer to businesses and investors?

    • Direct application of English Common Law which is internationally recognised, most commonly used, and renowned for being transparent and predictable, providing freedom of contract with a pro-business approach
    • Progressive regulations
    • Range of services provided from in-house single business platform for licence registration to immigration services, business support and services
    • Digital registration
    • ADGM ecosystem that gives access to 1600 operational businesses, access to ADGM's networking and high-profile business events such as Abu Dhabi Finance Week, access to asset managers, global funds, financial institutions, leading advisors, law firms, capital providers, tech and digital companies, family offices etc.
    • All other benefits the region offers – Access to capital, market, affordable yet quality infrastructure etc.

    3. Which businesses or businesses on Al Reem Island will fall under ADGM jurisdiction?

    All businesses on Al Reem Island will be governed by ADGM.

    4. Are there any specific conditions impacting certain activities?

    Certain business activities are controlled activities, as prescribed in the ADGM Commercial Licensing Regulations (Controlled Activities) Rules. These activities are subject to specific conditions of license. Please read these rules available here ADGM Commercial Licensing Regulations (Controlled Activities) Rules 2022 and Commercial Licensing Regulations (Conditions of Licence and Branch Registration) Rules 2023 We note that, if any other permits or licences (in addition to ADDED licences) are required to be obtained or maintained by the relevant businesses under applicable law (including licences from federal or Abu Dhabi authorities which may be necessary to engage into certain types of activities under federal or Abu Dhabi laws), these permits or licences need to be obtained or amended/renewed by businesses, as appropriate, with the relevant authorities. ADGM commercial licence does not substitute any such licences and requirements continue to apply. Further guidance on these matters will be published and can be requested as appropriate.

    5. How does the expansion impact your commercial licence?

    Although the change to ADGM’s geographical jurisdiction took effect from 24 April 2023, businesses and real estate on Al Reem Island can continue for now to operate and carry on business as before. However, you will need to obtain an ADGM licence before the end of 31 December 2024 to be able to continue your business activities in Al Reem Island after that date.

    6. Are Al Reem Island office spaces eligible for the ADGM licence effective today? If not, when?

    Yes, Al Reem Island addresses, approved for commercial use, are eligible as part of a new licence application submitted to ADGM. If the business at an Al Reem address has an existing ADDED licence, the business may decide to convert to ADGM licence (instead of registering a new business and obtaining a new licence). This needs to be completed by 31 December 2024.

    7. What is the cost of obtaining an ADGM commercial licence and its renewal?

    The registration fee varies depending on the type of ADGM Commercial licence. All information related to setting up a business in ADGM is available at Starting a Business in Abu Dhabi.

    8. You have just renewed your residential tenancy in Al Reem Island with your landlord and registered Tawtheeq. What happens to you?

    Processing and registration of all residential tenancies including the processing of other services related to real estate will continue without change and with the relevant government authority until further notice.

    9. What measures will be in place to ensure a smooth transition and minimise any potential disruptions during the transition of Al Reem Island businesses into ADGM jurisdiction?

    ADGM is currently working with mainland authorities and regulators to facilitate a smooth and seamless transition of existing Al Reem Island businesses and residential settings to ADGM's jurisdiction. ADGM has set a transitional period ending 31 December 2024. Additionally, ADGM is setting up an ADGM information kiosk on Al Reem Island, an ADGM Business Centre on Al Reem Island, conducting awareness sessions for general public and business, launching a dedicated web portal and providing on-going support from ADGM.

    10. What are the differences between the labour law of ADGM and the rest of Abu Dhabi?

    ADGM regulates employment affairs through its own employment legal framework, which can be found at Employment Regulations 2019.

    11. Will the ADGM regulatory framework be offered as an optional alternative to the existing "mainland" regulatory framework, or rather applied on a mandatory basis on conclusion of the transition period?

    ADGM’s framework will not be ‘optional’. At the end of the transition period, ADGM’s regulatory framework will apply fully to businesses located on Al Reem Island. By the end of the transition period, an existing Al Reem business will need to decide either to replace its ADDED licence with an ADGM licence or to register a new business and obtain a new licence. Given that ADGM has other types of legal entities as compared with onshore, a business converting its ADDED licence to ADGM licence (without registering a new business) may also need to change its legal form. ADGM guidance on this will be issued in due course and can be requested as appropriate.

    12. How would being part of ADGM jurisdiction affect our tax payments and VAT processing for the federal authorities?

    ADGM can provide general guidance only in relation to relevant tax legislation and is not in a position to give any tax or legal advice on your circumstances. UAE tax legislation is administered by the UAE Federal Tax Authority, you may wish to consider consulting a tax professional.

    13. Are you looking to obtain building permits, infrastructure services, planning services, or any other municipality related services?

    Reach out to Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport for all such services until further notice.

    14. Are there any restrictions moving onto digitally enabled versions of the Agreements (Lease, Variation, Termination, Licence Agreements) as well as e-signatures? Will e-signatures be acceptable under ADGM legislation?

    ADGM's Regulations facilitate commerce by providing legal validity and certainty to electronic records, electronic contracts and electronic signatures. Full version of this document can be viewed here Electronic Transactions Regulations 2021

    15. What are the permitted activities for commercial licensing in ADGM?

    ADGM has its own list of permitted activities, and these may closely link to your existing DED activities. Please refer to Permitted Business Activities to view an indicative one-to-one mapping of ADGM activities against DED activities. Please note these are subject to applicable regulatory conditions.

    16. Will I be allowed to obtain a dual commercial licence as part of ADGM?

    Pursuant to ADGM Law (Law No. 4 of 2013, as amended) and subject to certain conditions, new and existing ADGM registered legal entities can benefit from the dual licensing arrangement by applying to the DED for an onshore licence without having to have a separate physical office outside ADGM. Some businesses may be required to obtain further licences or permits (apart from the DED licence) from other authorities, depending on the scope of activities.

    17. Am I able to retain the commercial licence number that I have on my current DED commercial licence?

    No. ADGM maintains a different commercial licensing regime to mainland and therefore you will be issued a new ADGM licence number.

    18. Am I permitted to have multiple licences under one office address?

    ADGM permits multiple commercial licences under one office address, subject to the following conditions:

    • An NoC is obtained from the landlord to allow sub-leasing; and
    • Sub-leases are signed between the entity holding the head-lease and the entity requesting the sub-lease.

    For financial entities, in addition to the above, you need to seek permission from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of ADGM.

    19. Am I permitted to have one licence for multiple office locations?

    No. ADGM does not permit multiple office locations under one commercial licence.

    20. What will happen to labour contracts?

    Individuals employed by businesses registered in ADGM, are required to have an employment contract aligned with ADGM Employment Regulations 2019. Please refer to Standard Employment Contract and Work Permit Guidance.

    21. Can an individual employed by a non-ADGM business be seconded or outsourced to an ADGM registered business?

    Yes, but for a duration of 30 days or more, an individual is required to obtain a temporary work permit from ADGM under The ADGM Employment Regulations Engaging Non-Employees Rules 2023. Temporary work permits can be issued for validity periods of 3, 6 or 12 months (renewable).

    22. What is the process and fees of sponsoring employees in ADGM?

    ADGM has a comprehensive set of information regarding sponsoring employees, available at Corporate Relations – Government Services page.

    23. Can an ADGM entity conduct business onshore outside the ADGM jurisdiction?

    An ADGM commercial licence allows you to conduct activities in or from ADGM. In order to conduct activities outside ADGM, you will need to comply with the laws and regulatory requirements of onshore jurisdiction.

    24. Can an entity with a DED licence conduct business activity in ADGM jurisdiction?

    You cannot conduct any business activity in ADGM without a valid ADGM commercial licence or an ADGM permit. Financial services activities need additional authorisation.

    25. What will be the tax implications on my business in ADGM? Will I pay corporate tax or am I exempted?

    ADGM can provide general guidance only in relation to relevant tax legislation and is not in a position to give any tax or legal advice on specific circumstances. UAE tax legislation is administered by the UAE Federal Tax Authority, you may wish to consider consulting a tax professional.

    Dispute Resolution FAQs

    1. What is the source of ADGM Courts jurisdiction?

    ADGM Courts jurisdiction is found in Articles 13(7) and (8) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020. Article 13(7) provides that ADGM Courts has exclusive jurisdiction to consider and decide on:

    • Civil or commercial claims and disputes involving ADGM, an ADGM authority or an ADGM licensed entity.
    • Civil or commercial claims and disputes arising out of:
      • a contract entered into, executed or performed in whole or in part in ADGM;
      • a transaction entered into or performed in whole or in part in ADGM; or
      • an incident that occurred in whole or in part in ADGM.

    Article 13(8) provides that parties with no connection to ADGM may agree in writing to refer their civil or commercial claims and disputes to ADGM Courts.

    2. What is Cabinet Resolution No. 41 of 2023 and what impact does it have on ADGM Courts jurisdiction?

    Cabinet Resolution No. 41 of 2023 expanded the geographical territory of ADGM to include Al Reem Island with immediate effect from 24 April 2023.

    This means ADGM Courts now has exclusive jurisdiction to consider and decide on the matters set out in Article 13(7) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020 (see question 1 above) in relation to both Al Maryah and Al Reem Islands.

    3. Can parties agree to refer their claim or dispute to arbitration or to another court for determination?

    Yes. In accordance with Article 13(9) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020, parties may agree to refer their claims or disputes to arbitration or may agree to refer their civil or commercial claims and disputes to the jurisdiction of any other court other than ADGM Courts.

    4. I am involved in a dispute and want to file a claim. Which Court do I file my claim with?

    If you have a dispute, you should refer to the jurisdiction clause in your contract in relation to the place for filing any claim. For example:

    • If you have a dispute with your employer, you should refer to your employment contract; or
    • If you have a dispute with your landlord, you should refer to your tenancy contract.

    If you have done this and are still unsure where to file your claim, you should consult with a lawyer.

    5. The jurisdiction clause in my contract refers to the “Courts of Abu Dhabi”. Does this include ADGM Courts?

    In NMC Healthcare Ltd and Associated Companies [2022] ADGMCFI 0003 (04 April 2022), it was held that “the expression “the Courts of Abu Dhabi” include the Courts of ADGM, which are Courts of the Emirate”.

    6. I do not have a jurisdiction clause in my contract, or I do not have a contract, but my claim has a connection to Al Reem Island. Should I file my claim with ADGM Courts?

    In this situation, you should refer to Article 13(7) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020 which provides that ADGM Courts has exclusive jurisdiction in relation to civil or commercial claims and disputes that relate to:

    • ADGM, an ADGM authority or an ADGM licensed entity;
    • a contract entered into, executed or performed in whole or in part in ADGM;
    • a transaction entered into or performed in whole or in part in ADGM; or
    • an incident that occurred in whole or in part in ADGM.

    7. The circumstances giving rise to my claim occurred before Cabinet Resolution No. 41 of 2023 came into effect. Should I still file my claim with ADGM Courts?

    Cabinet Resolution No. 41 of 2023 does not contain any transitional provisions. You should refer to Article 13(7) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020 which provides that ADGM Courts has exclusive jurisdiction in relation to civil or commercial claims and disputes that relate to:

    • ADGM, an ADGM authority or an ADGM licensed entity;
    • a contract entered into, executed or performed in whole or in part in ADGM;
    • a transaction entered into or performed in whole or in part in ADGM; or
    • an incident that occurred in whole or in part in ADGM.

    You may also wish to note that Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has declined to accept jurisdiction in certain cases involving Al Reem parties that have come before it since Cabinet Resolution No. 41 of 2023 came into effect, irrespective of when the cause of action arose.

    8. I am employed on Al Reem Island. If I want to file a claim against my employer, which Court do I file my claim with?

    You should refer to your employment contract to see if there is any jurisdiction clause that applies. If your employment contract is registered with the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MoHRE), the dispute resolution provisions contained in Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 will apply which requires any individual employment dispute to be submitted to MoHRE.

    If there is no jurisdiction clause in your employment contract, or if your employment contract is not registered with MoHRE, you should refer to Article 13(7) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020 which provides that ADGM Courts has exclusive jurisdiction in relation to civil or commercial claims and disputes that relate to:

    • ADGM, an ADGM authority or an ADGM licensed entity;
    • a contract entered into, executed or performed in whole or in part in ADGM;
    • a transaction entered into or performed in whole or in part in ADGM; or
    • an incident that occurred in whole or in part in ADGM.

    If you are still unsure where to bring your claim, you should consult with a lawyer

    9. I am a tenant on Al Reem Island. If I want to file a claim against my landlord, which Court do I file my claim with?

    You should refer to your tenancy contract to see if there is any jurisdiction clause that applies. If your tenancy contract is registered with the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT), any tenancy claim should be referred to the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee in Abu Dhabi.

    If there is no jurisdiction clause in your tenancy contract, or if your tenancy contract is not registered with DMT, you should refer to Article 13(7) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020 which provides that ADGM Courts has exclusive jurisdiction if the claim or dispute relates to:

    • ADGM, an ADGM authority or an ADGM licensed entity;
    • a contract entered into, executed or performed in whole or in part in ADGM;
    • a transaction entered into or performed in whole or in part in ADGM; or
    • an incident that occurred in whole or in part in ADGM.

    If you are still unsure where to bring your claim, you should consult with a lawyer.

    10. Does ADGM Courts have jurisdiction over cases related to the sale of mortgaged properties on Al Reem Island that are registered with the Abu Dhabi Municipality?

    You should refer to your mortgage contract to see if there is any jurisdiction clause that applies. If you have done so and you are still unsure where to bring your claim, you should consult with a lawyer.

    If there is no jurisdiction clause in your mortgage contract, you should refer to Article 13(7) of Abu Dhabi Law No. 12 of 2020 which provides that ADGM Courts has exclusive jurisdiction if the claim or dispute relates to:

    • ADGM, an ADGM authority or an ADGM licensed entity;
    • a contract entered into, executed or performed in whole or in part in ADGM;
    • a transaction entered into or performed in whole or in part in ADGM; or
    • an incident that occurred in whole or in part in ADGM.

    11. I need some legal advice in relation to my dispute but cannot afford to pay for this. What can I do?

    If you cannot afford legal advice, you may be eligible to receive pro bono legal assistance (i.e., at no cost) from the ADGM Courts Pro Bono Scheme.

    The Scheme provides legal assistance to individuals with limited financial means at no cost to help them understand their rights and obligations in regard to a dispute or any other legal issue that falls within the jurisdiction of ADGM Courts. Pro bono legal assistance is provided by legal volunteers who provide their time and expertise to assist such individuals.

    ADGM Courts Pro Bono Scheme Guidelines set out the criteria for eligibility to receive pro bono legal assistance and how to apply for such assistance. The Guidelines can be found here.

    If you wish to apply for pro bono legal assistance, you must complete and sign the Application for Pro Bono Legal Assistance here and submit it via the ADGM eCourts Platform. A guide for how to submit the application on the eCourts Platform is available here.

    If you encounter any difficulties with the application process, please contact probono@adgmcourts.com and a representative from the Scheme will assist you with the application process.

    12. I want to file a claim with ADGM Courts. How do I do this?

    ADGM Courts is fully digital. You must first register on the ADGM eCourts Platform. There is no fee to register. A guide for registration is available here. If you encounter any difficulties with the registration process, please contact registry@adgmcourts.com and a representative from the Court Registry will assist you.

    13. I have registered on the eCourts Platform. What do I do next to commence my case?

    You should start your case in the:

    • Small Claims Division if the value of your claim is USD 100,000 or less and it does not relate to an employment matter. To start your case, you must complete the claim form using Form CFI 2.
    • Employment Division if your claim is made under the ADGM Employment Regulations 2019 or if it relates to any other employment matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the Court. To start your case, you must complete the claim form using Form CFI 3.
    • Commercial and Civil Division if the value of your claim exceeds USD 100,000 and it does not relate to an employment matter. To start your case, you must complete the claim form using Form CFI 1 (or Form CFI 6 if your claim is unlikely to involve a substantial dispute of fact).

    14. Where do I find the Court forms and what guidance is available for completing a claim form?

    The Court’s forms can be found here. Before commencing your case, you should refer to:

    The Court Registry cannot provide legal advice or assist a party with completing a form. If you require any assistance with completing the claim form you should consult with a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, please see question 11 above.

    15. Where do I file my claim and do I need to pay any fee?

    All claims must be submitted for filing on the ADGM eCourts Platform. A guide for filing a claim on the eCourts Platform is available here. If you encounter any difficulties, please contact registry@adgmcourts.com and a representative from the Court Registry will assist you.

    When you submit your claim, you will be required to pay a filing fee. The ADGM Courts Schedule of Fees can be found here. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you can apply for a waiver or deferral of payment. The Court Registry will decide whether to waive or defer payment of the filing fee.

    The ‘Guidelines on Remission and Deferral of Court Fees’ and the application form can be found here. Completed application forms should be sent to the Court Registry at registry@adgmcourts.com.

    16. Is there any way to resolve my dispute without filing a claim with the Court?

    ADGM Courts provides a free court-annexed mediation service. Under this scheme, an internationally accredited mediator is provided to the parties at no cost to assist them with resolving their dispute. If you wish to refer a dispute to mediation, the process is as follows:

    • Parties must complete and sign a ‘Request for Mediation’ which can be found here;
    • The ‘Request for Mediation’ must be sent by email to the Court Registry at registry@adgmcourts.com; and
    • If the request is approved, the Registrar of the Court will appoint a mediator as soon as practicable.

    Information on the court-annexed mediation scheme is set out in Part 36 of the ADGM Court Procedure Rules 2016 and Practice Direction 13.

    17. Where do I find further information about ADGM Courts?

    All information concerning ADGM Courts is available on the Court’s website. Any queries should be sent in writing to registry@adgmcourts.com.

    Contact Us

    Should you require further information beyond what is provided in our FAQ section, please do not hesitate to contact us via the form below.


    News About Al Reem Expansion

    ADGM Announces Incentive Initiative for Existing Al Reem Island Businesses Transitioning to ADGM ADGM Marks Its Presence on Al Reem by Hosting its First Community Event on the Island ADGM Reinforces Presence in Al Reem Island with the launch of its Information Centre in Shams Boutik Mall