Abu Dhabi Global Market, the emirate’s financial free zone being set up on Al-Maryah Island, has established a panel of experts to oversee the development of a draft regulatory framework.

A total of 16 international financial institutions are represented and they will consult on regulations that will govern the operations of institutions licensed to operate in the free zone.

The pre-open market consultation process is seen as a major step towards ensuring the free zone is ready to receive its first licence applications from financial institutions in 2015.

The panel includes senior representatives from National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, First Gulf Bank, Mubadala Development Company, ADS Securities, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Pacific Investment Management Company Pimco, Lazard, Credit Suisse, International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and Man Group.

Abu Dhabi Global Market intends to offer a broad range of financial services, but will initially focus on asset management, private banking and wealth management during the first phase of its establishment.

The formation of the free zone could change the dynamics of the GCC’s financial industry.

While with more than 900 financial institutions the DIFC has been the region’s incumbent financial centre for years, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are emerging as challengers to Dubai.

The free zone was established by federal decree in 2013.