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Tue 9 Mar 2010 10:42 AM

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UAE eyes foreign ownership law by year-end - econ min

'The law should be submitted to the cabinet within a month' - Al Mansouri.

UAE eyes foreign ownership law by year-end - econ min
ECONOMY WATCH: The ministry recently said it expected GDP growth of 2.5-3.0 percent in 2010. (Getty Images)

The UAE will review rules governing foreign ownership of companies in the next month and implement a new law by the end of this year, economy minister Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri said on Tuesday.

"The law should be submitted to the cabinet within a month," he said on the sidelines of a conference. "Our expectation is that the law would come out by 2010."

Under current regulations, business owners from all nationalities except from within the six GCC states must have a local majority partner. Exceptions apply in free zones such as Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Internet city, where 100 percent foreign ownership is allowed.

The new regulations have been in the pipeline for several years and are aimed at increasing foreign investment as restrictions on full ownership were considered a key reason for holding back investment and stifling competition.

The UAE, the world's third-largest oil exporter, has been striving to diversify its economy away from a dependence on energy exports by pouring windfall oil revenues into real estate, financial services and infrastructure.

Mansouri said in September the law was in its final stages and would include a rule stipulating a minimum capital of 200-300 million dirham ($54-$82 million). The new law is in line with recommendations made by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Dubai, the commercial hub of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates, has long sought to position itself as an international tourism and financial centre, luring businesses to its free zones with promises of tax-free earnings.

The global financial crisis put the brakes on a six-year oil-fuelled economic boom in the Gulf Arab region with Dubai hit the hardest after its real estate sector crashed in 2009.

Meanwhile, Al Mansouri said that growth in the UAE economy will rebound in 2010 to 3.2 percent from 1.3 percent in 2009. Mansouri was speaking in Dubai at a tea industry event.

The ministry recently said it expected GDP growth of 2.5-3.0 percent in 2010. (Reuters)

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Bindiboy 10 years ago

are they having a laugh....why oh why does this place continue to struggle with implementing a free market methodology for new business, this is obviously only trying to entice larger companies - but frankly if I owned a business that had that share capital would I start up in Dubai or other emergin markets like eastern europe - business costs, laws, employement costs are all far too high and uncompetitive here, there are more and more people leaving this place yet again - wake up and smell the coffee, this new law wont fill the empty office buildings in Business Bay or JLT - get real and get a grip on reality......the longer you wait the less chance of recovery here..it may never happen if these draconian laws are not changed sooner rather than later

gordon 10 years ago

step in the right direction. I was getting all excited till I read about the 200 mio min capital... ah well I will have to work that little bit harder

barry 10 years ago

Why does even UAE bother to bring such un-lucrative offer. There are many other countires in the region that could be used for business hub. I think Mr. Mansouri should re-look at the offer before presenting it to cabinet keeping in mind many factors & re-think of this whole startegy of 100% ownership.