Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the UAE
According to the World Investment Report 2023 issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the value of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the UAE in 2022 amounted to USD 22.737 billion (AED 83.5 billion), up by 10 per cent or USD 2.07 billion (AED 7.6 billion), to rank 16th globally in FDI inflows in 2022.
The UAE was ranked 1st in the West Asia region since it received 47.1 per cent of the total FDI inflows to the region, amounting to USD 48.3 billion. The UAE also was ranked 1st in the MENA region as it accounted for 32.4 per cent of the total FDI inflows to the region, amounting to USD 70.2 billion.
The UAE provides numerous incentives to investors, and promotes entrepreneurship. It implements incentives to attract FDI. Incentives include the opportunity for investors of different nationalities to establish and own companies fully. One of the initiatives in NextGenFDI, a collaborative effort between government and private entities. The initiative facilitates expedited licensing and incorporation procedures for cutting-edge technology companies looking to establish their presence in the UAE.
The establishments would be in accordance with the lists published by local authorities, except for specific sectors deemed as Activities with Strategic Impact. In these cases, full ownership is subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities overseeing these sectors.
Promising foreign investment sectors in the UAE
The UAE is actively engaged in incentivising new economic sectors in the knowledge and digital economy. Ministry of Economy identifies the below mentioned sectors as highly promising:
- health care
- logistics services
- information and communications technology
- medical tourism
- renewable energy
- media and entertainment
- creative industries
- smart cities.
Read more about FDI on the ‘Grow in UAE’ portal.
Legal form of FDIs
FDI projects may take any of the following legal forms:
- public joint stock company
- private joint stock company
- limited liability company
- limited partnership company
- partnership company.
The licensing authority and the competent authority in any of the emirates of the UAE, concerned with the affairs of foreign direct investment, each within its jurisdiction will specify the conditions and procedures required to establish and license foreign direct investment projects listed in the Positive list and the documents required in accordance with the provisions of the FDI law and other the federal or local laws in force. The following image shows steps for licensing FDI projects in the Positive list.
Learn about the business regulations applicable in the UAE and laws that are specific to the industry.
Check the UAE Foreign Direct Investments Dashboard from Ministry of Economy.
Supporting foreign direct Investment in the various emirates
- Foreign Direct Investment in Dubai
Dubai FDI offers essential information and invaluable support to foreign companies who intend to invest in Dubai. Dubai FDI guides, advises and provides practical assistance with all aspects of business decisions and management, starting from determining the best legal structures to identifying the appropriate business activities.
- Foreign Direct Investment in Sharjah
Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) launched Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) to promote a diverse set of investment opportunities in the emirate. Sharjah FDI Office helps investors to fully understand processes, investment advantages and insights on key sectors that fit their business profiles.