Complex Made Simple

UAE approves 122 economic activities across 13 sectors for 100% foreign ownership

The law to permit over 49% foreign ownership was announced last year, and permanent residencies for expats were announced in May.

Each Emirate's government will have the final say on the % of foreign ownership permitted per economic activity By late June, 400 high-profile investors have already been granted permanent residency in the UAE The UAE plans to issue a further 6,400 gold card visas by the end of the year

After announcing its “Gold Card-style” permanent residency for foreign investors and individuals of high value to the UAE this May, the UAE has now revealed the 13 sectors and 122 economic activities 100% ownership will be permitted in.

Approved by the UAE Cabinet, the sectors include renewable energy, space, agriculture, and manufacturing Industry. As per the Emirates News Agency (WAM), the decision provides investors with an opportunity to acquire various shares in a number of economic activities including the production of solar panels, power transformers, green technology, and hybrid power plants.

A full list of the sectors and economic activities approved was not provided by the WAM report. 

According to Sameer Barakat, Executive Director at Property Management Company Provis, the UAE Cabinet’s announcement will further stimulate the UAE property landscape. 

Barakat explained: “The announcement by the UAE Cabinet to allow 100% foreign ownership in more than 120 economic activities will revitalize the economy and positively impact the overall UAE investment landscape. We also expect this to directly benefit the real estate market as more foreign investment would stimulate the market further, increase purchasing power of residents driven by employment and most importantly, solidify investor confidence in the UAE.”

The law to permit more than 49% foreign ownership in UAE businesses was authorized last year. 

When the Golden Card-style permanent residency system was announced in May, 6,800 individuals were selected to be eligible, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, had announced at the time

“It is a permanent residency for investors and for exceptional workers in the fields of health, engineering, science and art,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. “Throughout history, the UAE opened its door to millions of people looking to pursue their dreams and better their lives. The Golden Card is our way to welcome all those seeking to be a part of the UAE’s success story and making it a second home.”

However, individual Emirates reserve the right to decide on a sector-by-sector basis on the extent of ownership permitted. 

“Local governments [across the seven emirates of the UAE] will determine the percentage of ownership in each activity according to their circumstances,” Sheikh Mohammed explained. In certain emirates, some activities could still require an Emirati shareholder, even if the foreign ownership threshold increases, The National notes.

By late June, 400 had been granted the residency, according to the Major General Mohamed Ahmed Al Marri, director general of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDFRA) in Dubai. The GDFRA plans to issue a further 6,400 gold card visas by the end of the year, Al Marri noted, and the total cumulative investments of these 6,800 or so individuals would total AED100 billion ($27 billion).

This permanent residency follows another attempt by the UAE government to entice expats to stay and invest in the country. The UAE has already begun giving out long-term residency visas to certain high profile individuals and investors, for either 5 or 10-year periods. 

This all part of the UAE’s attempt to diversify its economy away from oil revenue, in a bid to boost the private sector.