100% Foreign Ownership in the UAE - what you need to know
10 June 2021
The UAE continues to enhance its position as one of the easiest places to do business by introducing 100% foreign ownership of mainland companies. Whilst this change was implemented on 1 June 2021, information is flowing from the respective Department of Economic Development (DED) of each Emirate on precisely which business activities are open to 100% foreign ownership. Abu Dhabi's DED has already issued a list of more than 1,100 activities which may be conducted through a 100% foreign-owned company in the UAE, and we already know that Dubai's DED will have a similar number. Like many other countries, there are certain activities which, due to their strategic importance, may not be 100% foreign-owned. These strategic activities are security, fisheries, communications and banking (including currency exchange houses and finance companies).
Our Doing Business in the United Arab Emirates guide covers the full range of entity types that you can consider for your business in the UAE, and it includes the changes brought about by the implementation of 100% foreign ownership in the UAE. It includes the application process with the DED for a new Limited Liability Company under 100% foreign ownership and for a branch of a foreign company, the fact that you may now apply to the DED without the need for a local service agent. The option for an existing business in mainland UAE to become 100% foreign-owned is also available. A full copy of our Doing Business in the United Arab Emirates guide is available to download from our website.
The UAE remains a key hub in the Middle East region, with world-class logistics linking growth markets in Europe, Africa and Asia. The Middle East region has shown economic resilience during the pandemic, and any international strategy would include leveraging the opportunities a hub such as the UAE can offer in a post-pandemic world. BDO has been in the Middle East for more than 50 years, with offices in all major cities in the region giving you cohesive advice around structuring, local compliance and tax planning.
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