100% Foreign Ownership in Dubai – 2024

As of June 1, 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has implemented amendments to the Commercial Companies Law (CCL), allowing for 100% foreign ownership in Dubai. This is a significant change that opens up new opportunities for businesses and investors from around the world. 

While this recent amendment has marked a significant milestone in the country’s ambitious vision to establish itself as the world’s leading business hub, it is essential to understand the implications of this decision and analyze the potential impact it may have on Dubai’s economy and global business landscape. 

Previous Ownership Restrictions in Dubai 

To fully appreciate the significance of the recent policy change, it’s crucial to understand the historical context of foreign ownership regulations in the UAE. 

Until June 1, 2021, the country had enforced strict ownership restrictions, often requiring foreign investors to have a local Emirati partner or sponsor to hold a majority stake in businesses operating in Dubai.  

These are some of the challenges faced by foreign investors – 

  • Prior to the 2020 amendments, foreign investors were required to have a UAE national as a majority shareholder (51%) in their companies. 
  • Foreign investors had limited control over their businesses and were subject to certain restrictions, such as the need to obtain government approval for certain activities. 

These regulations aimed to protect the interests of Emirati nationals and foster local economic growth. 

While some sectors allowed limited foreign ownership, many vital industries, such as banking, telecommunications, and energy, required majority Emirati ownership. This created barriers for international companies and investors, as they were often compelled to enter joint ventures or partnerships. 

The UAE Now Allows 100% Foreign Ownership in Dubai 

  • The UAE government amended the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) in 2020, allowing foreign investors to own 100% of their companies in Dubai. 
  • This applies to a wide range of business sectors, including trading, manufacturing, information and communication technology, professional services, and tourism and hospitality. 
  • The new rules give foreign investors more control over their businesses and allow them to access a wider market. 

The Reason Behind the Policy Change 

The UAE government has made a number of changes to its foreign ownership laws in recent years, with the aim of making the country more attractive to foreign investors. 

There are a number of reasons why the UAE government made these policy changes.  

  • To attract more foreign investment into the country. The UAE is already a major business hub in the Middle East, but the government believes that 100% foreign ownership will make it even more attractive to foreign investors. 
  • To help boost UAE’s economy in several ways using FDI. For example, it can create jobs, boost economic growth, and attract new technologies to the country. 
  • By allowing foreign investors to own 100% of their companies, the UAE is leveling the playing field and making it easier for foreign companies to compete with local businesses. 
  • To attract top talent from around the world to help boost the country’s economy and its reputation as a global business hub. 

Sectors that Allow for 100% Foreign Ownership in Dubai 

  1. Trading – This includes the import and export of goods and services. 
  2. Manufacturing – This includes the production of goods and products. 
  3. Information and communication technology – This includes the provision of IT services, software development, and e-commerce. 
  4. Professional services – This includes accounting, legal, and consulting services. 
  5. Tourism and hospitality – This includes hotels, restaurants, and tour operators. 
  6. Sectors that Do Not Allow for 100% Foreign Ownership in Dubai 
  7. Banking and finance – This includes the provision of banking, insurance, and investment services. 
  8. Defense – This includes the provision of defense-related products and services. 
  9. Civil aviation – This includes the provision of air transport services. 

Key Benefits for Foreign Investors 

  • Foreign investors now have complete ownership of their businesses, allowing them to make critical decisions independently without requiring local partners or sponsors. 
  • Access to Dubai’s diversified market opens up numerous opportunities for foreign investors to tap into a growing consumer base and expand their businesses. 
  • Dubai’s ecosystem attracts foreign investors with cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models. 
  • The UAE’s world-class infrastructure and strategic location serve as a gateway to emerging markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. 
  • Foreign investors can now own real estate properties in designated areas, enabling them to establish a strong physical presence in the region. 

Steps for Establishing 100% Foreign-Owned Businesses 

1. Choose a business activity

The first step is to choose a business activity that is eligible for 100% foreign ownership. The UAE government has a list of approved business activities, and you can find it on the website of the Department of Economic Development (DED). 

2. Choose a legal structure

There are two main legal structures for businesses in Dubai  

LLCs are the most common type of business structure, and they offer a number of benefits, such as limited liability and tax breaks. Free zone companies are located in special economic zones, and they offer a number of benefits, such as 100% foreign ownership. 

3. Obtain a trade license

Once you have chosen a legal structure, you will need to obtain a trade license from the DED. The DED will require you to submit a number of documents. 

4. Open a bank account

You will need to open a bank account in Dubai in order to conduct business. There are a number of banks in Dubai that offer accounts for foreign-owned businesses. 

5. Obtain a visa

If you are not a UAE national, you will need to obtain a visa in order to live and work in Dubai. There are a number of different types of visas available, and you will need to apply for the one that is most appropriate for your situation. 

6. Set up your business

Once you have obtained all of the necessary licenses and visas, you can set up your business. This includes finding a location, hiring employees, and launching your business. 

Start Your Business in Dubai with Shuraa.

The UAE’s progressive decision to allow 100% foreign ownership in Dubai has opened up many opportunities for international investors looking to establish their businesses in this vibrant and globally connected city. 

If you’re eager to seize this chance to establish your business in Dubai, look no further than Shuraa Business Setup. With over two decades of experience and a track record of registering over 35,000 companies in the UAE, Shuraa is the trusted partner you need for a seamless and successful business setup journey. 

As an authorized agent for company formation in Dubai, Shuraa offers expertise, comprehensive support, and personalized guidance throughout the entire process. 

Your future success awaits in this thriving metropolis of endless possibilities.


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