UAE allows 100% ownership of businesses for foreign nationals from December 1, 2020

President signed official decree

The UAE has scrapped the need to have UAE nationals as sponsors, thus allowing expatriate investors 100 per cent ownership with effect from December 1, 2020. The move is in line with a federal law issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and which amends Law No. 2 of 2015 on companies in the UAE.

The long-awaited 100 per cent ownership by foreign nationals of companies licensed and registered in the UAE is allowed as per Cabinet Resolution No. 16 of 2020.

The new law amended 51 articles and added new ones, mostly focusing on the regulation of provisions of establishing companies with limited liability shareholding. The amendments exempt expatriate investors from the minimum percentage ownership of UAE nationals.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the amendments to the law, noting that the UAE now enjoys a fertile legislative environment for the establishment of businesses in order to enhance the UAE’s competitiveness.

A key update

As per the Commercial Companies Law, Law No. 2 of 2015, foreign shareholders were limited to owning a maximum 49 per cent in a ‘limited liability company’ (LLC) operating as an onshore UAE business. This, it required an Emirati individual or 100 per cent Emirati-owned company to hold the balance 51 per cent share as a local sponsor.

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