It could be the UAE's most transformative new law since the freehold law was passed in 2002. After decades of having a transient population of highly-skilled expats and overseas investors who lacked long-term visas and tenure, the United Arab Emirates is introducing 10-year residencies and 100 percent foreign business ownership in an ambitious bid to add fresh impetus to the economy.
Such a move has facilitated comparisons to Singapore’s rise into a global economic force, and the majority of business owners, real estate experts, economists and employment professionals believe its implications will be nothing short of profound.
But one man with a knack for predicting the future had long suggested the change. Dr Habib Al Mulla, founder and chairman of local law giant Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, proposed the same laws in what he calls both a “famous” and “infamous” article in 1997.
He received harsh criticism at the time, but says two factors have since changed: time and people.
Of course, precise details of the laws are yet to be revealed, as the department of immigration told Arabian Business it still hasn’t received a full set of instructions on what they entail. But not all entities are expected to thrive under the new legislation. What will suffer ultimately, Al Mulla predicts, are free zones.
In this edition of Inside AB, Jeremy Lawrence and Lubna Hamdan discuss the views of Dr Al Mulla on the future of free zones, long-term planning and “hidden” laws in the UAE’s legislation that could do with some changes.
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(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)