The UAE Government amended the federal Commercial Companies Law, granting foreign investors full ownership of specific businesses. This means that foreign investors’ shares will not be limited to a maximum of 49 per cent like before, but can be up to 100 per cent instead.
The law annuls the requirement for commercial companies to have a major Emirati shareholder or agent, thus, providing full foreign ownership to non-Emiratis of all nationalities of onshore companies established by them.
In addition, firms wishing to become joint stock companies can, after the approval of relevant authorities, sell through IPOs, no more than 70 per cent of the company, instead of the earlier 30 per cent limit.
The decree authorises the UAE Cabinet to set up a committee that includes representatives of the relevant authorities with a view to proposing activities of strategic impact and the measures required to licence companies that operate in such areas. Upon the recommendation of the committee, the Cabinet will stipulate the activities that shall be considered of strategic impact and the required measures for licensing such companies.
Department of Economic Development - Abu Dhabi identifies 1,105 registered commercial and industrial activities, for which non-citizens, whether natural or legal persons, have the right to own economic licence, establish commercial companies with 100 per cent or less ownership and practise these activities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The announcement of full foreign ownershipaffirms the Abu Dhabi Government’s keenness to attract more foreign direct investments by promoting an open and flexible business environment, and stimulate the private sector and enhance the position of the emirate of Abu Dhabi on the global investment map.
As per the guidelines published by Dubai Economy on its website, 100 per cent foreign ownership is available for more than 1,000 commercial and industrial activities (PDF, 500 KB), excluding economic activities with a strategic impact, which relate to seven sectors.