Abu Dhabi issued more than 2,000 new commercial licences in the first quarter of the year. But the number of licences issued each month decreased between January and March.
Overall, the total number of commercial businesses currently licensed in the emirate is near 106,000 with the new issues, according to the emirate's Department of Economic Development (DED).
The number of new licences, however, receded from 768 issued in January to 685 in March.
The DED said the total number of licences was up compared with the same period last year. However, the emirate issued 3,253 new licences in the first quarter in 2010.
The emirate's economic outlook is strong due to government support in non-oil sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, education and health, according to a report by the research consultants CBRE.
Among the ongoing projects cited that are driving the industrial sector is the development of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, or Kizad.
Abu Dhabi's economic growth rate, pegged at 4.5 per cent last year, is expected to grow by 5 per cent this year, said the CBRE report.
Many businesses already operating renewed their licences. The number of renewals in the first quarter this year totalled 17,866, which reflects the business community is confident, according to the DED.
Much like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is benefiting from an increase in tourism, with more than 2.1 million hotel guests recorded last year compared with 1.81 million in 2010, CBRE reported.
But experts warn the UAE is lagging behind in credit growth when compared with countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman. This is particularly true among the small to medium enterprise (SME) sector.
"But 2012 is as much a good time for SMEs as could be in the last four years," said Liz Martins, senior economist at HSBC.
Small and medium players are now increasingly launching franchises.
Previously, a few big companies tended to monopolise the franchise industry, according to a WAM report on the latest Franchise UAE trade exhibition held this month in Dubai.
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