Abu Dhabi free zone to offer key financial services
Abu Dhabi, May 2, 2013
Abu Dhabi said its planned financial free zone would offer a wide range of services, from banking to fund management and commodities trading, and would aim to fill a gap in financial markets' coverage of the global day.
In February, UAE President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan passed a federal decree to create the zone on Al Maryah island, close to Abu Dhabi's downtown area.
Announcing details of the plan yesterday, the emirate left little doubt that its zone, to be called the Global Marketplace Abu Dhabi, could become a competitor to Dubai, currently the Gulf's premier financial centre.
Abu Dhabi's zone will have an independent regulator with its own board, the Financial Services Regulations Bureau, as well as two courts with a chief justice, the emirate's Office of Government Communications said in its first public statement on the subject.
The zone, to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2013, will offer benefits similar to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), such as zero tax, easy repatriation of profits and exemption from customs duties on imports.
Institutions operating in the zone will include various types of bank, trading companies, foreign exchange and commodity trading companies, prime brokerages, pension and investment funds, Islamic financial firms, companies handling stock trading, financial consultancies and others.
"The free zone will bridge the gap in the global markets between 7am and 11am, between Asia and Europe, due to the strategic location of the UAE," the statement said.
Dubai launched the DIFC in 2004 with its own independent civil and commercial laws, its own courts and a financial exchange, Nasdaq Dubai.
Although Abu Dhabi is starting well behind Dubai as a financial centre, it has advantages such as its oil wealth - which Dubai lacks - and one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds.-Reuters