Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development goes online

The days of having to take along scores of paper copies of official documents to register your business in Abu Dhabi will soon be a thing of the past.

Until now, business people have had to visit the offices of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) clutching original copies of utility registration certificates, letters of no objection from police and other authorities, and various other documents.

But an electronic system being launched by the DED will mean companies can provide all the necessary documents in electronic format. Either a flash drive or CD will be accepted.

The system will be more efficient, officials say. “This will be very quick and more convenient for both the company to register and the DED to process the registration,” said Fahim Al Shehhi, the director of commercial licensing at the authority.

“It can be a headache for customers to have to remember to bring paper copies of their passport, visa, registry book, partner document and everything else to register their business,” he said. “This will make it easier and forms part of our strategy to transfer from paper to paperless.”

The move is part of a trend by government authorities to streamline company registrations in the Emirates. The Dubai Department of Economic Development plans to launch an e-services initiative next month, allowing companies to register for more services online.

Mr Al Shehhi said Abu Dhabi’s e-archiving system would be launched in the next few weeks. But the Abu Dhabi DED was not yet at the stage of enabling business people to register their firms online from their own computers, he said.

“Online services are at a different stage, but as a step towards that, we have a strategy to reduce paperwork,” he said.

For the Government of Abu Dhabi, the plans are a first step towards the emirate’s goal of establishing a one-stop shop for commercial licensing. Officials hope in the future to spare people the hassle of visiting different governmental entities. Instead, the DED aims to have theservices offered by various government departments under one roof.

“In the future, the DED will have a one-stop shop for all services,” Mr Al Shehhi said. “Customers will be able to come to the DED and won’t have to go elsewhere.”

Officials hope that by streamlining licensing services, more firms will be enticed to register. A concerted effort by entities across the country may help to lift the UAE’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business report, which compares economies on business regulation and cost.

The UAE rose two places to 33rd in the latest report, which was released last year. The 13-day business set-up period in the UAE was better than the regional average of 20 days but worse than the average of 12 days for the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.