In its most recent efforts for attracting foreign investment, the UAE is preparing a draft law which would allow the foreigners to own up to 100% of businesses in the maritime industry following certain criteria.
The Chairman, as well as, the Infrastructure Development Minister of the United Arab Emirates’ Federal Transport Authority, Abdullah Al Nuaimi stated last week that the legislation, which is likely to pass in the first six months of 2020, will be addressing areas ranging from vessel ownership to conflict resolution.
The United Arab Emirates has long paused the foreign ownership in domestic firms at 49 percent, with the exception of economic free zones, which were created all across the country in a bid to satisfy foreign investors.
However, the recent step comes following a decision of cabinet on 2nd July which gives permission to the seven emirates of the country to set foreign ownership limits across a variety of sectors, with up to 122 economic activities across 13 sectors eligible for 100% foreign ownership, inclusive of the agriculture, space, renewable energy, and manufacturing industry. Technical, information & communications, hospitality, entertainment, arts, healthcare, construction, educational, as well as, scientific activities are also included in the decision.
Abu Dhabi’s government also made an announcement that all foreigners will now be able to own the freehold of properties and land which they purchase in the investment zones.
In the past, this was only allowed for the United Arab Emirates and GCC nationals. The move has been labeled as the “game-changer”. Amongst the changes, residential units in the zones will be registered under freehold law of Abu Dhabi, with property ownership deeds issued to investors.
Abu Dhabi’s foreign investor’s property was previously generally limited to leasehold arrangements with 99-year leases.