UAE to allow 100% foreign ownership of local companies

On 23 November 2020 the government of the United Arab Emirates officially announced that foreign investors can fully own local companies (LLC and joint stock companies) without the need for an UAE citizen sponsor currently required to hold the 51% majority.

The landmark new rule takes effect on 1 December 2020, however several sectors deemed strategic, such as oil and gas exploration, utilities and transport, are to be exempt from the new rules. 

The news is largely welcomed by the foreign investors community who considered previous rule that onshore companies had to have a major UAE shareholder as one of the major obstacles for foreign companies doing business in UAE. Removing existing barriers and opening up the economy further will boost the UAE’s competitive edge and make the country more business-friendly expecting to attract unprecedented volume of foreign direct investment. Without the doubt it will further increase the appeal of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as two well-established international financial centres and global business hubs.

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