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UAE: Locally-Registered Companies Set to be Opened Up to 100% Overseas Ownership

As of early 2018, overseas investors are to be permitted to wholly own UAE-registered companies operating in certain sectors. At present, at least 51% of every UAE-registered business has to be owned by a UAE national, except within certain designated Free Trade Zones and in specified instances in the oil, gas, electricity and water utility sectors. Additionally, in the case of public joint stock companies, majority stakes may be held by nationals of any of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain or Oman).

The move to relax the 49% cap comes as part of the revamp of the country’s FDI regime and precedes the introduction of a new Investment Bill, scheduled to come into effect in the first quarter of 2018. The changes are in line with the country’s commitment to diversifying its economy and reducing its traditional reliance on the oil and gas sectors.

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