UAE to allow full foreign ownership of companies, in bid to boost business

“The amended Commercial Companies Law aims at boosting the country’s competitive edge and is a part of UAE government efforts to facilitate doing business,” said Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq al-Marri.
Thursday 20/05/2021
A general view shows Dubai Marina. (AFP)
A general view shows Dubai Marina. (AFP)

ABU DHABI--The United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday it will lift a cap on non-local ownership and allow full foreign control of business ventures from the start of June.

The reform, originally flagged in 2019, will make it easier to do business in the Gulf state and encourage investment, the economy ministry said.

“The amended Commercial Companies Law aims at boosting the country’s competitive edge and is a part of UAE government efforts to facilitate doing business,” said Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq al-Marri.

He added the amendments introduced by the new Commercial Companies Law will boost the UAE’s appeal as an attractive destination for foreign investors, entrepreneurs and talents.

The decision abolishes a long-standing law that limits foreign ownership to just 49 percent.

To dodge the limit, some of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, including Dubai, have for years established free trade zones where foreigners can own up to 100 percent of their business.

The UAE’s economy is the second-largest in the Arab world, behind Saudi Arabia.

It ranks as the most diversified, particularly thanks to Dubai which gains 95 percent of its income from outside the oil industry.

The capital Abu Dhabi sits on the majority of the UAE’s vast oil reserves.

The country ranks 16th in the World Bank’s index on the ease of doing business.

The decision opens up 13 major economic sectors to unrestricted foreign investment, including renewable energy, agriculture, transport and e-commerce.

In 2019, the UAE was the top destination for foreign direct investment in the Arab world, attracting nearly $13.8 billion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).