An Important amendment to the UAE foreign ownership regime (Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 on Commercial Companies (CCL)) has been effective since the 1st of June 2021. 

This amendment brought about by Federal Decree Law N°26 of 2020 (see our previous ALERT of 19.02.2021) removes from Article 10 CCL the requirement that at least 51 percent of the shares in companies incorporated in the UAE under the CCL (Mainland Companies) be held by one or more UAE nationals (being natural or legal persons). 

Foreign investors may now effectively own and control UAE Mainland Companies operating in commercial and industrial sectors without the need to appoint nominee(s) or cater for similar structures, hereby avoiding costly and sometimes burdensome arrangements, as well as legal uncertainty. 

It is left to Departments of Economic Development (DED) of each respective Emirate to establish and adjust over time, a list of business activities open to 100 percent foreign ownership. Abu Dhabi DED’s list covers 1,100 activities within a wide range of sectors. Dubai’s list includes more than 1,000 commercial and industrial licenses. 

As anticipated under CCL amendment, foreign ownership restrictions continue to apply to companies conducting activities of strategic impact. The UAE Council of Ministers delineates the scope of those strategic impact activities, which remain subject to local ownership and board participation requirements. To date, these encompass notably national security, defense and military activities, certain services in the field of fisheries, exchange houses, finance companies, currency printing, communication, Hajj and Umrah services, Holy Quran memorization centers. 

Entry in force of the CCL amendment is no doubt improving the already attractive status of the UAE as a foreign investment destination. 

We are available at all times to discuss this new regime and explore any option you may wish to consider. Do not hesitate to reach out and contact Mrs Marie Didierlaurent:

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