There has been a landmark change to the UAE Commercial Companies Law which allows 100% foreign ownership for mainland companies. This is expected to provide a further boost to the UAE economy.
Federal Law No (2) of 2015 on Commercial Companies (“Companies Law”) was amended by virtue of Federal Decree Law no. 26 of 2020 which made changes to some provisions of the Companies Law (“Decree Law”) around September 2020.
The Decree Law introduced reforms which were eagerly awaited by the expatriate business community. Those amendments, particularly, included the removal of the requirement:
- for a company to be owned 51% by UAE national(s) as per Article 10 of the Commercial Companies Law. This was effective from 01 June 2021; and
- to appoint a UAE national local agent for branches of foreign companies as per Article 329 of Companies Law. This was effective from 01 April 2021.
Abu Dhabi mainland licensing authority has circulated an updated list of commercial and industrial activities (Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, that permit 100 per cent ownership to non-UAE nationals. The new list has expanded the available activities (and includes trading, logistics and contracting activities) for 100% foreign ownership that can be conducted by limited liability companies.
The list provided by Dubai mainland (Dubai Department of Economic Development) licensing authorities allows majority of the commercial and industrial activities to have 100 per cent foreign ownership. Meanwhile, the authority is also considering extending 100% foreign ownership to mainland limited liability companies, which include commercial, and services related activities on a case-to-case basis.
Similarly, Sharjah Economic Development Department (“SEDD”), the Department of Economic Development in Ajman (“Ajman DED”) have confirmed that they will also allow around 1000+ activities under 100% foreign ownership. The list is expected to be shared shortly. Meanwhile, the Department of Economic Development in Ras Al Khaimah (“RAK DED”) have also issued their own list of activities available for 100% foreign ownership. (Department of Economic Development in Ras Al Khaimah)
Existing mainland companies covered under this provision should be able to adjust their position in line with the new regulations and new companies can incorporate as per the new provisions in place, subject to the approval from the licensing authorities and other relevant body with 100% foreign ownership.
Meanwhile, existing branches of foreign companies can terminate their local agent agreement and obtain the necessary clearance from the UAE national to change their license as per the provision of the Decree Law. New branch of foreign company can incorporate the entity in alignment with the Decree Law without the requirement for UAE national local agent.
HOW WE CAN HELP
- PKF can review your existing license and corporate documents and advise on the eligibility for 100% foreign ownership.
- PKF can assist with making a submission to the licensing authorities for obtaining approvals for 100% foreign ownership: and
- Setting up new 100% foreign owned entities in mainland.
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