Own 100% of Your Company in UAE – Here’s How.

Icon 10 months ago Icon 12 July 2021

100% Foreign Ownership in UAE

The changes made in the Commercial Company Laws in the UAE allows you to own 100% equity in your company. Prior to the changes, UAE nationals required to be majority owners of 51% of the shares of a company.   

Say goodbye to the uncertainty regarding the ownership.  Now on, you need not worry about the cumbersome nominee shareholding agreements with National partners.  

Here is what you need to know about the changes that are expected. 

Can you own 100% ownership in any Company? 

No, not all companies are eligible for the new ownership structure. The activities that you carry out from the companies determine the eligibility.  The authorities have identified certain sectors or industries for full ownership.  If your company is operating in one or more of the identified sectors or industries, you can fully own the Company. The activities lists will be published by the Economic Department of the respective Emirates in the UAE.   

Companies carrying out activities in strategic industries or sectors are not eligible for the new ownership rules. Some of the ineligible industry / sectors are:

  • commercial agencies;  
  • strategic activities, including the military and defense;  
  • banking, insurance and re-insurance; 
  • telecommunication sectors;  
  • professional activities such as accountancy practice.

In addition, branches of UAE free zone companies are still required to appoint a UAE national agent. 

Dubai Economy has identified about 1060 commercial and industrial activities in seven sectors which allows full foreign ownership. The commercial activities that are covered under full foreign ownership allowed include: 

  • general trade, 
  • contracting, 
  • jewelry, 
  • gold, 
  • pearls, 
  • luxury watches, 
  • food, 
  • cars and trucks trading. 

In the industrial category, manufacturing and processing activities such as metals and construction, building materials, foods, water production and paints sectors can have full foreign ownership. 

The Abu Dhabi DED has issued a list of 1,105 activities. 

Ajman DED has also issued a list of over 1000 economic activities in industrial and commercial sector with strategic impact for full foreign ownership. The list is yet to be made available on the Ajman DED website.

Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain are yet to notify the list of activities for full foreign ownership.

In terms of a company’s incorporation, wholly foreign-owned companies will not be subject to higher fees or have greater guarantee or share capital requirements than would be the case for a UAE-owned or part-owned company. The law also grants flexible discretion to the relevant DED in each Emirate, and each DED will be able to grant exceptions in relation to the formation of companies carrying out projects that the local authority considers significant and which would support investment and value to the UAE market.

Will You end up paying more fees to own 100% ownership in UAE Companies? 

Not really. Wholly foreign-owned companies will not be subject to higher fees. There is no change or increase in the share capital requirements, or a higher guarantee limit. The Economic departments of respective Emirate will be able to grant special exceptions or incentives for companies operating in specific industries or sectors.  

More updates to follow.

If you have any questions related to the above, pls feel free to get in touch with our experts:

Rajgopal Pai KPI UAE

Rajgopal Pai
Partner – Advisory
[email protected]