A landmark law that will allow foreign investors to own 100 percent of companies in the UAE will be limited to specific industries deemed essential to the second-biggest Arab economy, a government official said on Wednesday.
Authorities are still weighing what industries are to be included in the law, and the decision will be based on factors such as the ability to create jobs and transfer technology, according to Abdulla Al Saleh, undersecretary for foreign trade & industry at the Economy Ministry.
He said a committee will be formed to decide on the industries to be fully opened to foreigners and the committee will be headed by the economy minister.
It will include representatives from the UAE’s seven emirates and refer its recommendations to the Cabinet. The group will also recommend industries and companies that could be added to the list.
Presently, foreigners can fully own a company if it’s located in a free zone. The changes, which also include offering some foreigners long-term residency permits, will take effect by the end of this year, the government said on Sunday.
The announcement is an attempt by the UAE to bolster a slowing economy and stay ahead of other Gulf neighbours racing to emulate Dubai’s success in finding sources of revenue beyond oil.
Stocks in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the UAE’s richest emirates, gained the day after the announcement, helped by bets the changes would end a model that forced foreign investors to seek local partners to set up businesses outside free zones.
The law aims to “give investment in the UAE a strong push,” Al Saleh said in a phone interview. “Its goal is to attract quality investments and expertise and isn’t necessarily about the size or number of investments.”For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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