The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has launched the “Virtual Licence” allowing the non-resident foreign investors to obtain an economic licence for doing business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi without any prior residence procedures and from any location outside the United Arab Emirates.

This announcement was made on the sidelines of the Department’s participation in the Abu Dhabi government pavilion in the 41st session of the GITEX Global (Dubai 2021), held under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, under the slogan “Nothing Stops People and Tech.”

His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, stated that virtual licence is an unprecedented proactive initiative targeting attraction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) through facilitating the economic activity licensing procedures and requirements, regardless of the location of the investor and no residency requirements shall be met before the issuance of this licence.

His Excellency added that this initiative goes in line with the directions of the UAE government to enable cross-border digital trade.

Al Shorafa underlined the keenness of the Abu Dhabi government to increase the attractiveness of business in the emirate and boost its competitiveness in the commercial and service sectors. As well as to present the emirate as an international business destination by enhancing the ease of doing business and attracting FDIs and cash flows in line with the 10 principles of the next 50 years plan for the UAE, especially the second principle which focuses on building the most active and vibrant economy worldwide.

Furthermore, his excellency outlined that the virtual licence covers 13 economic sectors on top of the strategic sectors targeted by the Abu Dhabi government to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The foreign investor can apply for a licence in any of these economic sectors and thoroughly (100%) own it choosing any of the two approved legal forms: Limited Liability Company and Sole Proprietorship L.L.C.

Rabee Al Hajeri, Acting Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Business Centre, stated that the virtual licence does not require prior approvals from the concerned entities; rather, this initiative focuses on granting an economic licence to natural or legal persons residing outside the UAE to encourage them to do business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

He pointed out that the virtual licence covers many economic activities under 13 sectors, including: agriculture, manufacturing, repair, contracting, maintenance, and installations, retail trade, transport, services, leasing services, health and entertainment event organisation and management and provision of the supporting services, wholesale trade, and import and export. These activities are subject to local fees AED 1,000 as max., provided that all federal fees be paid upon completion of the remaining requirements according to the activity selected and the legal form preferred.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has identified the steps to be taken for issuing a virtual licence. The investor shall log into the Abu Dhabi Business Centre’s website (, select “Virtual Licence”, then, enter through UAE Pass Sop1. After that, the investor shall choose an economic name (in English only), enter his contact details, identify the economic activity to be practised, attach a copy of his passport and pay the due fees by credit card. The virtual licence will be then issued.

The Department specified the mechanism for the residents located outside the UAE via the UAE PASS. The investor shall log into the UAE PASS via (, create a new account, scan the QR code and click "subscription" on the main page. New accounts will be verified by the customer’s mobile phone number and e-mail address, then a password must be made.