UAE approves full foreign ownership of firms

Updated July 03, 2019

Email

The move covers fields including agriculture, manufacturing, renewable energy e.t.c. — AFP/File
The move covers fields including agriculture, manufacturing, renewable energy e.t.c. — AFP/File

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday it had decided to lift a decades-old cap on foreign ownership and allow full foreign control of business ventures.

“In a cabinet meeting I chaired in Abu Dhabi, we approved 100 percent foreign ownership in 122 economic activities,” UAE vice president and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum said on Twitter.

The decision abolishes a decades-old law that limits foreign ownership to just 49 per cent.

The move covers “fields including agriculture, manufacturing, renewable energy, e-commerce, transportation, arts, construction and entertainment,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

The seven Sheikhdoms that comprise the UAE will have the discretion to specify their own ceilings for foreign ownership of key business sectors, a government statement said. To dodge the 49pc limit, some emirates led by Dubai have long established free trade zones where foreigners can own up to 100 percent of their business.

Sheikh Mohammed said Tuesday’s decision opens the UAE economy to all nationalities so as “to make it one of the best destinations for global investments.”

The cabinet decision essentially opens up 13 major economic sectors in the Arab world’s second largest and most diversified economy.

The capital Abu Dhabi sits on the majority of the UAE’s vast oil reserves and pumps close to three million barrels per day.

The UAE is already the Arab world’s top recipient of foreign direct investment, attracting more than $11bn last year.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd , 2019