Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the leading international financial centre in the UAE’s capital, marked its fifth anniversary with a reaffirmed commitment to market-responsive agility and innovation to cement its position as an agile and innovative hub for dynamic and enterprising businesses, building on the strong foundations that are in place.

Since its launch on October 21, 2015, ADGM has continually delivered ground-breaking policies and initiatives. The international financial centre pioneered many global and regional firsts that have propelled it to the top tier of international financial centres in a remarkably short time. Notably, ADGM is the first MENA jurisdiction to apply English common law in its entirety; it hosts the world’s first fully digital courtroom;  it is home to the Middle East’s first digital banking licensing regime; and the region’s first comprehensive virtual asset regulatory framework and first calibrated Venture Capital Manager framework, among many other achievements.

Commenting on the occasion, His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State (UAE) and Chairman of ADGM, said: “Our remarkable journey, from drawing board to world stage in the short span of five years, could not have been made possible without the unwavering support of the UAE and Abu Dhabi leadership, as well as the continued trust of our expansive network of partners, associates and community members. As such, we extend our sincerest thanks to all those who took part in and contributed to this unique success story.”

we are committed to continuing to provide the policies, incentives and support structures needed to ensure customers from around the world choose ADGM as the best place to set up and grow their business

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State (UAE) and Chairman of ADGM

His Excellency added: “As we mark this major milestone, it is essential to look to the future as well as the past. The year 2020 has taught us that market requirements can shift more rapidly than we could ever have imagined, and we are committed to continuing to provide the policies, incentives and support structures needed to ensure customers from around the world choose ADGM as the best place to set up and grow their business.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ADGM proved its dedication to nimbly cater to the requirements of its community by introducing several targeted business support measures in accordance with the UAE’s robust initiatives that aimed to sustain the growth of its business ecosystem and preserve the stability of its community of registered entities. These measures encompassed an array of fee reductions, waivers and refunds, including a 100% waiver on continuation fees, annual fund fees and commercial license renewal fees, and a 50% waiver on any new supervision fees, a 50% refund of supervision fees, and a 50% reduction on the incorporation fee for new ADGM companies.

As a testament to the resilience and strength of its digital infrastructure, ADGM also continued to provide stakeholders with uninterrupted services through progressive technologies and entirely digital mediums, such as the AccessADGM platform and digital courtroom, enabling entities to seamlessly carry out necessary business functions.

In line with its vision, ADGM has established itself as a key pillar of Abu Dhabi’s diversification strategy, underpinning the Emirate’s commitment to building a thriving financial services sector. Today, ADGM has 2,932 licences in issue and at the end of the third quarter 2020, more than 16,600 people worked at the companies licenced by the financial centre.

ADGM has also served as a steadfast contributor to the Emirate’s diversification and sustainability efforts, having established the region’s first sustainable finance-focused event, the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, and spearheaded numerous milestone initiatives, such as the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Declaration. ADGM continues to showcase its commitment to progressing the nation’s sustainability footprint through the publication of relevant literature, including the recently published State of Sustainable Finance report, and facilitation of the availability of sustainable financial products and services, including the establishment of the UAE’s first green REIT.

In line with its efforts to further reinforce the financial sector, ADGM established the ADGM Academy in 2018 to become a leading provider of financial research, training, education and literacy for Abu Dhabi and the MENA region. Since its establishment, the ADGM Academy has introduced many regional firsts, including the first AI Accredited Certificate and the first Certificate in Sustainable Finance, launched alongside the London Institute of Banking & Finance. The ADGM Academy has also contributed significantly to the nation’s employability agenda, having placed over 500 individuals in the workforce and aided in the training and education of countless professionals.

Commemorating the five-year anniversary, ADGM published a special anniversary report showcasing ADGM’s growth and milestones as well as the innovations it has adopted since it was established. Going forward, a report will be published on an annual basis to capture the progress made.

His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh said: “The comprehensive report tells the compelling story of building a leading international financial centre from the ground up in record time, with each chapter revealing how innovation has been the driving force behind our success. I look forward to the next chapters as we continue to build our reputation as a pioneering business hub not just for the UAE or the region, but for the world. Our remarkable growth trajectory, paired with a firm commitment to never lose sight of market requirements and constantly evolve to accommodate them, will define our journey.”