x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai may allow Gulf nationals to set up wholly-owned companies

Government officials in Dubai are considering allowing GCC nationals to set up companies in the emirate without a local partner.

Government officials in Dubai are considering allowing GCC nationals to set up companies in the emirate without a local partner.

A committee has been formed by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) to study requests from GCC nationals to launch firms in partnership with foreigners, the DED said yesterday.

The move signals a willingness by the emirate's Government to consider easing tight business ownership controls in an effort to lure foreign investment.

Currently, non-Emiratis wanting to establish a business in the emirate and across the UAE are limited to a 49 per cent ownership share. The remaining 51 per cent has to be held by an Emirati business partner. The exceptions are free zones, where foreigners can have complete ownership.

"[The] DED continues to streamline the business sector, propose policies, and prepare development programmes in line with the vision of the leadership to develop key economic sectors and create a competitive and attractive business environment for regional and international investments," said Ahmed Ibrahim, the director of business registration in the DED's business registration and licensing department.

The step was part of Dubai's attempts to strengthen partnerships in the business community, attract new capital and raise its competitiveness, said the DED.

In determining whether to grant requests from GCC nationals to establish companies without local partners, the committee will consider whether the project includes transfer of knowledge and technology to the UAE or the transfer of operations of a company to the country. It will also weigh whether the project is a priority for the emirate's economy.

Business proposals must fall under sectors considered critical to adding value to the economy including industry, tourism and services. They must also hold a minimum capital of Dh10 million (US$2.7m) transferred to a UAE bank from outside, as well as an economic feasibility study.

The establishment of the committee comes as anticipation builds about major changes to commercial law that could allow foreign companies to own a greater share of their business.

Sultan Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, was quoted by Reuters as saying this month that the new companies law still had to be debated by the Federal National Council and the Cabinet.

 

tarnold@thenational.ae