x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

30,000 to live in new Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone

The capital’s new financial free zone is expected to house 30,000 residents as it aims to have 'critical mass' in the second half of next year.

Abu Dhabi's new financial free zone will take shape on Al Maryah Island. Reuters / Ben Job
Abu Dhabi's new financial free zone will take shape on Al Maryah Island. Reuters / Ben Job

ABU DHABI // The capital’s new financial free zone is expected to house 30,000 residents as it aims to have “critical mass” in the second half of next year.

Abu Dhabi Global Market will be a “vibrant 24-hour district that contains the ideal mix of businesses, services and entertainment to fuel Al Maryah as a destination outside of a place to work”, according to an official briefing document.

“The Government’s and Abu Dhabi Global Market’s actions will be deliberate, pragmatic and governed by taking the time to put the right foundations in place to ensure a successful outcome,” the document says.

ADGM is also looking for partners and participants from the international financial community to back its ambitions to become a global financial centre.

One of its aims is to “attract world-class skills and expertise to the emirate through mutually beneficial partnerships with leading foreign investors in a strategically targeted industry,” the briefing document says.

It also wants to “optimise international participation in the ADGM free zone”. There has been speculation that the new market will look for an anchor tenant and business partner from the ranks of the global financial institutions.

The document adds significant detail to plans already announced. On timing, it says the rest of this year “will be spent preparing the operating model for implementation along with the associated regulation and regulatory frameworks.

“During that time ADGM will deal with applications for participation and partnership in the market and free zone so that by the third and fourth quarter of 2014 the ADGM will have critical mass.”

The broad outline of the market has already been drawn by Abu Dhabi Executive Council after a federal decree in February. It will consist of three bodies – a registrar, a regulator and a courts system – under a five-man board chaired by Ahmed Ali Mohammed Al Sayegh, who is also deputy chairman of Abu Dhabi Media, which publishes The National.

The ADGM document makes it clear that the new free zone on a 114-hectare site on Al Maryah island will be a fully fledged financial hub. It will include offices and commercial premises as well as residential, hotel and leisure facilities.

The island already houses the prestigous Galleria retail and leisure precinct and the five-star Rosewood Hotel. Coming soon are a Four Seasons Hotel and the Cleveland Clinic.

The ADGM organisation is housed in the building in Sowwah Square intended to be occupied by Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. Sowwah Square is to be regarded as a “sub brand” in the ADGM initiative.

Two specialist firms advised the Abu Dhabi authorities in the preparation of the ADGM plan. The broking house ADS Securities provided help on financial and trading matters, and the law firm Allen & Overy gave advice on the legal framework of the centre. Both declined to comment yesterday.

ADGM is seen as part of the Abu Dhabi government’s established economic strategy. It will “contribute to the emirate’s ongoing economic development and diversification process by accelerating the growth of a key industry and the further establishment of the financial sector”, the briefing document says.

It aims to form a strategic link between financial markets in the Far East and Europe, and specifically “bridge the time gap that occurs during the slowdown of international financial markets between 7am and 11am UAE time”.

It will offer a full range of financial and investment services, from investment, commercial and private banking through to Islamic finance and physical commodities trading.

fkane@thenational.ae