Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Masdar City, one of the world’s most sustainable urban developments, is introducing new licences to encourage entrepreneurs to set up within the City’s business free zone. The announcement coincides with the 36th Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) taking place in Dubai from October 16-20.

Masdar City’s full suite of free zone and investment services targeting the Middle East & North Africa’s clean-tech industry will be promoted throughout GITEX Technology Week at a dedicated exhibition stand.

“Masdar City is nurturing the region’s first dedicated clean-tech cluster anchored by a research institute specialising in advanced energy and sustainable technologies,” said Mohammed Al Fardan, Director of the Masdar City Free Zone. “These additional business benefits will further incentivise local start-ups and encourage more UAE national entrepreneurs to enter the private sector, while at the same supporting the City’s overall mandate to connect education with R&D and business with investment.”

The distinct business benefits of the new free zone licences for individuals that qualify include:

Permission for individuals to register as businesses at the Masdar City free zone besides companies and subsidiary branches
Minimum share capital requirements waived
Lower free zone registration charges
Lower charges to lease single-desk office space known as ‘hot desks’
Standard requirement to provide a bank or employee guarantee when issuing a UAE residence visa waived
Direct access to tenant and client networking events at Masdar City, as well as access to a dedicated business community portal

Existing free zone benefits include 100% foreign ownership, exemption from corporate and personal income taxes, and 0% import tariffs, as well as access to R&D partnerships through the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

The free zone also offers a ‘One-Stop Shop’ service handling paperwork such as government registrations, and Emirates I.D and visa processing on site.

Masdar City aims to grow its tenant base nearly four-fold by 2020, and to increase the net leasable area within its free zone by around a third every year by that time. Today, more than 400 companies from six continents operate from the City, from start-ups to multinationals including Siemens, Lockheed Martin, GE, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Schneider Electric.

Today around 5,000 people work at Masdar City, a figure expected to exceed 15,000 within the next three years. Earlier this year, the head office of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) relocated to the development with more than 700 full-time, and 550 staff of Etihad Airways also moved there. Masdar City also hosts the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the first international government organisation to have its headquarters in the Middle East.

New office space at Masdar City includes the Accelerator 1 building offering 5,000 square metres of Gross Floor Area that will be handed over early next year.

The Accelerator 1 is part of the R&D cluster making up the second phase of Masdar City’s expansion comprising residential apartments and a premium school within walking distance of the Masdar Institute and around a dozen on-site pilot research projects.

“As both a free zone and an investment zone, Masdar City offers flexibility and scalability to prospective tenants and investors, catering to micro businesses and large-scale corporations alike,” added Mohammed Al Fardan. “Our latest initiative further strengthens Masdar City’s appeal to future clean energy entrepreneurs, and to the growing cadré of business-minded UAE nationals graduating from the Masdar Institute. GITEX Technology Week is an ideal platform to promote Masdar City’s highly competitive services to the region’s emerging clean-tech business community.”