UAE to allow 100% foreign ownership of maritime businesses

The UAE legislation, which is expected to pass in the first half of 2020, will address areas ranging from vessel ownership to dispute resolution
Infrastructure and Development Minister Abdullah Al Nuaimi
Infrastructure and Development Minister Abdullah Al Nuaimi

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The United Arab Emirates is preparing a draft law that would allow foreigners to own up to 100% of businesses in the maritime industry in accordance with specific criteria, Infrastructure and Development Minister Abdullah Al Nuaimi said Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

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The legislation, which is expected to pass in the first half of 2020, will address areas ranging from vessel ownership to dispute resolution, according to Al Nuaimi, who’s also chairman of the UAE Federal Transport Authority.

The minister referred to a cabinet decision on July 2 that allows each of the country’s seven emirates to set foreign ownership limits in various sectors.

A total of 122 economic activities across 13 sectors were specified to be eligible for up to 100 percent foreign ownership including renewable energy, space, agriculture, and manufacturing industry.

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The new rules essentially lifted a federal requirement that has long capped foreign ownership in local companies at 49%. The change frees the country’s seven emirates to open up their industries to foreign investors, many of whom demand full control over their operations.

Economic free zones sprang up across Dubai and much of the UAE as a way to satisfy foreign companies that couldn’t fully own businesses onshore.

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