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100% foreign ownership in the UAE

100% иностранная собственность в ОАЭ

The introduction of amendments to the Law on Commercial Companies (CCL) from June 1, 2021, now allows expats to have 100% ownership of a business in the UAE.

Here we will take a detailed look at the new changes and what they mean for entrepreneurs, as well as for the UAE economy. The latest laws allow foreign investors to fully own property, and this is a revolutionary step towards turning this region into a major business center around the world.

What’s new?

The revised laws focus on regulating the provisions on the establishment of commercial firms with limited liability structures. A limited liability company (LLC) may have one owner or several shareholders.

What has changed?

Real estate in the UAE

Previously, expat business owners were limited to owning a maximum of 49% of their companies. The remaining 51% will necessarily belong to a citizen of the UAE, also known as an Emirati sponsor or partner.

Only a few professional services activities and some free zones allowed foreigners to have 100% ownership.

However, now the amendments exempt foreign depositors from the minimum percentage of ownership by UAE citizens. Thus, allowing individuals and legal entities to set up companies on the mainland of the UAE without having to look for a local partner.

This means that expatriates can now enjoy the right to full ownership simply by cooperating with a local service agent (ISA). The ISA will help you with all the documents and licensing procedures without having any stake in your company. Thus, the right to make decisions is in your hands.

Who is entitled to full ownership of real estate? 

Dubai

In Dubai, the revised laws will apply to 1,061 of the 2,300 economic activities included in the list published by the Department of Economic Development. Thus, about half of the activities of entrepreneurs in various sectors, including trade and production, are entitled to own a business by 100%. In the field of professional services, this law continues to benefit entrepreneurs. They, however, require an ISA and strictly follow the legal structure of a local company with 100% foreign ownership instead of an LLC.

Abu Dhabi

Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, most trading operations still require investors to cooperate with an Emirati sponsor. Therefore, they must follow the regulation on the ownership of shares 51-49.

Other Emirates

The realization of one hundred percent ownership varies from one emirate to another. While Dubai and Abu Dhabi have already introduced updated rules, it is expected that other emirates will also develop their own. As soon as the relevant jurisdictions introduce the appropriate rules, foreign investors will be able to fully own their business.

Reasons for revising the law to allow full ownership of property

Ownership of property in Dubai
  1. Creating a favorable legislative environment for the company’s activities.
  2. Simplification of one hundred percent ownership will increase the readiness of the country’s economy.
  3. Improving the convenience of doing your own business.
  4. Assistance in preparing for the future, expansion of investment and commercial opportunities.
  5. Improving the competitiveness of the business environment in accordance with rapid economic changes, as well as events, taking place in the global economy.
  6. A response to the changing needs of the Emirates business community.
  7. A push to attract foreign investors, businesses and even startups.
  8. Providing foreign financial partners with the opportunity to have full operational and legal control over their business without any unwanted interference.
  9. Attracting businessmen from all over the world.
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