United Arab Emirates establishes new financial free zone in Abu Dhabi


The United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) has established the framework for a new financial free zone in Abu Dhabi. The new free zone, to be known as “Global Marketplace Abu Dhabi” (“Global Marketplace”) and located at Al Maryaah Island, is intended to be a financial hub to bridge the time gap between the European and Asian financial markets and to attract financial investment into the UAE, thereby improving liquidity in local markets.

The Federal Government passed Federal Decree No. 15 of 2013 providing for the establishment of the free zone in February 2013, which was recently published in the latest issue of the Federal Official Gazette. The accompanying Cabinet Resolution No. 4 of 2013 specified the size and geographical area of the new free zone. A press release issued on 1 May 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, publicised that some of the infrastructure has been established that will be necessary for the free zone’s day to day operations, including authorities to be known as The Global Marketplace Registration Bureau and the Financial Services Regulation Bureau, and a two-tier court system to deal with claims and disputes within the free zone. It also specified the activities that free zone licensed entities may practice.

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