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UAE to Allow 100% Foreign Ownership from June: Abu Dhabi Releases List of Sectors

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:40:59


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UAE has been creating paradigm shifts in their legal and regulatory landscape to promote business, investments and tourism in this middle-eastern country. This spans across personal laws and business regulatory regimes in the UAE. These amendments are set to remove longstanding restrictions on foreign ownership and remove significant barriers to doing business in the UAE.

The UAE Government recently amended the Commercial Companies Law to let companies be owned entirely by foreign owners. Article 10 of the Commercial Companies Law (No 2 of 2015) previously required that companies incorporated in UAE, had to be partially if not wholly owned by UAE nationals. However, the UAE Council of Ministers had decided to create changes to this requirement via the amendment from last year, abolishing the requirement that 51% of local businesses must be owned by UAE citizens. Instead, the government is moving toward a policy of non-national ownership companies, without creating specific restrictions.

The Commercial Companies Law amendment also states that the commercial activities that are considered to have a ‘strategic impact’, will be governed by a committee, that will lay down the necessary controls for the companies involved in said activities. The amendment is set to come into effect from June 1, 2021. This is seen as a move which might create a surge in the arrival of international investment, entrepreneurs and talent. Furthermore, towards the latter part of last month, the Undersecretary of the UAE’s Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry, had disclosed details of 10 new sectors to be incorporated within the Commercial Companies Law, to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership in these sectors as well, which might be instrumental to the prospects of the Industrial Strategy ‘Operation 300bn’.

Abu Dhabi Releases List of Sectors

The Abu Dhabi Economic Department has published the list of commercial and industrial activities which would be allowed foreign ownership, as the amendments come into effect. The list, points at the "Abu Dhabi government’s keenness to attract more foreign direct investments, promote an open and flexible business environment", said the Department on their website. The list of activities defines the activities with strategic impact. However, it may be noted that more activities may get added to this list.

Please click on this link to access the exhaustive list of sectors approved by Abu Dhabi for complete foreign ownership.