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UAE law to allow expat majority-owned companies faces two-day debate

FNC to debate a new law to specify types of company that can be majority-owned by foreigners. At present, firms outside the free zones have to be at least 51 per cent Emirati-owned.

ABU DHABI // Federal National Council members will hold a rare two-day session this week to discuss the long-awaited Companies Law.

The Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri, is expected to be present as members debate the 383-article legislation, which has been in the works for more than three years and replaces 30-year-old regulations.

It sets out a framework for UAE businesses, ranging from how shares can be allocated to accounting standards.

A new provision allows the Cabinet to specify types of company that can be majority-owned by foreigners. At present, firms outside the free zones have to be at least 51 per cent Emirati-owned.

A two-day session is not without precedent but this is the first since the current FNC members took their seats in 2011. It follows complaints from some members about the lack of time for debates.

Mr Al Mansouri will also be quizzed by Hamad Al Rahoumi (Dubai) about price stability.

"Although the Consumer Protection Department in the ministry is tasked with monitoring the movement of prices and working to reduce [them], and the ministry has pledged ... to prevent increases unjustified in prices, the country markets have still seen a clear increase in prices in the recent period," Mr Al Rahoumi will say. "What is the role played by the ministry to correct this situation?"

The acting Minister of Health, Dr Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, is also due to attend.

Ahmed Al Shamsi (Ajman) will ask him about the lack of supervision over medication, and whether there should be a federal authority to monitor this.

"A similar federal body is established in many countries," he said. "Medications need to be well monitored."

Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman) will ask Mr Al Owais, also Chairman of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, about the possibility of providing cheaper air fares and hotel rates for Emiratis.

The council will also ask the Cabinet to be allowed to study international reports ranking the country's development in various areas. The UAE has recorded noticeable development in the past five years, including being ranked 5th in the world last year for order and security, and first in the Middle East.

The session will begin at 9am on Tuesday at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi.



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