Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added) has announced the launch of the first phase of its Dual Licenses Initiative, which enables companies to both operate in the emirate’s free zones and carry out their commercial activities onshore in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.

The new scheme aims to encourage investment and drive economic development across the emirate.

The first phase of the initiative is open to companies headquartered in Abu Dhabi and based in one of its free zones.

Added is currently developing a comprehensive scheme for the second phase of the initiative, which will allow more companies to qualify for a dual licence.

The move is aligned with the recent economic initiatives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, that include multiple initiatives to improve the ease of doing business in the emirate and support entrepreneurs, SMEs and the private sector.

Commenting on the initiative, Saif Al Hajeri, Added’s Chairman, affirmed the department’s continuous efforts to improve the ease of doing business in Abu Dhabi. He also noted that this initiative allows companies to expand their work outside the free zones in which they are based, increasing their contribution to the economy.

“Dual licensing is the latest in a series of initiatives we have launched to support entrepreneurs, SMEs and the private sector, which are all key engines of the economy,” he said. “In its first phase, the initiative will offer companies more opportunities to do business and grow, such as allowing them to work and partner with other government entities. Companies can apply for a dual license through the Abu Dhabi Business Centre and request the service from the counter.”

Eligible companies will need to present a non-objection certificate from their free zone, an undertaking that states no ownership of branches located outside the free zone, and a photocopy of the parent company’s free-zone licence. After the application is submitted, it will be transferred for primary approval. Once approved, the licence will be printed upon the payment of the required fees.

The licence time frame depends on the activity. Over 90 per cent are immediate activities and those are completed within 20 minutes. Other activities with a technical nature require approvals from certain entities, and those are completed within 2 to 3 days, in accordance with the service agreement.

Standard licence fees apply to dual licences. The fees depend on several factors, such as the legal form and activities to be pursued. Providing a physical location and a nameplate are excluded from dual licences. Therefore, the cost of a dual licence is 80 per cent less than that of a standard license.