UAE Plans to Allow 100 % Business Ownership to Foreign Investors


In what seems to be a part of its efforts to attract more foreign investments, the United Arab Emirates has approved full foreign ownership to some investors together with granting 10-year long term visas to exceptional professionals.

All the changes to the rules of ownership have been approved by the cabinet and will come into effect by the end of this year, according to a news agency report. The move is to attract more investments and talent to the second-largest economy in the Gulf.

Earlier, the ownership policies restricted foreign investments outside the free zones and the new decision looks surely like a departure from the old rules. Expatriates who are looking to establish any businesses outside the ‘free’ zones will, however, have to seek partnerships with the UAE citizens who will typically own a 51 per cent share in the businesses.

Similar to many Persian Gulf states, most of the UAE’s population of 9 million people consists mostly of emigrant workers who are generally expected to leave the region once their employment in the region comes to an end. As these emigration rules are not allowing the UAE expatriates to set firm roots in the country, most of them send their earnings here abroad. A recent report suggests that in the year 2017 alone, as much as 164 billion dirhams ($ 45 billion) was remitted by the expatriates.

UAE’s decision to relax the residency rules for business in UAE comes after the neighbouring Qatar has passed a legislation last year to allow some foreigners to stay in the land indefinitely. The decision was taken even while there was a dispute in relations between Qatar and some Arab states which were led by Saudi Arabia.

The new UAE business rules will offer specialists in technical, medical, scientific and research fields to avail residency benefits for up to ten years in the region. They will also allow five-year UAE visa to students and 10-year visas to exceptional students.

UAE Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, “Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents.”

He further added that the decision will allow UAE to become a primary destination for global investors and will also attract global talents. The UAE’s Ministry of Economy has been directed to coordinate with concerned parties in implementing a resolution and follow up on the developments made to this effort. The Ministry will also submit a detailed study pertaining to the matter in the third quarter of the year.