Alsuwaidi & Company

Litigation Under UAE Law

Abu Dhabi to allow 100% foreign ownership of professional companies

Further to our published article “UAE Companies Law to Allow 100% Foreign Ownership in the UAE“, The Ministry of Economy announced the newest modification to the Commercial Companies Law, which came into effect on 01 June 2021. This abolished the condition obligating investors and international companies wishing to establish a UAE presence to have a local agent, or a GCC national. 

Following the Country’s goals for the upcoming fifty years, the change was prompted by the UAE’s desire to enhance and raise the attractiveness of the UAE for foreign investment, aligning with best trends and modern practices. 

The Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi (ADDED) issued a resolution, directed at foreign investors, that defined 1105 commercial and industrial activities in which foreigners (natural or legal persons) can own economic licenses and establish commercial companies with complete ownership to practice these activities in Abu Dhabi in effort to stimulate the private sector and reinforce the position of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on the global investment map. To view the complete list of activities, please click here. 

More recently, ADDED announced the release of the professional licenses, which include any activity practiced by a professional within his area of experience and professional or academic qualification. Such professional license will allow foreign professionals to establish and fully own a professional business company within 604 professional activities include many fields such as accounting, training, consultancy, beauty centers, computer and internet network companies, and others, as foreign professional partners wholly own them. 

Existing establishments can benefit from this by adjusting their status from a commercial to a professional facility whilst maintaining their registered number in the commercial license and incorporation date. ADDED indicated that a local services agent is required for most companies in case if there is no Emirati partner, who will be responsible for managing the licensing procedure without bearing any liability or any financial obligations towards activities of the company in Abu Dhabi or any other place.

The professional license will boost the confidence amongst professionals and their clients as this type of license would be preferable to new investors due to its ease of issuance and low cost. The legal form of the professional license is either an individual establishment or group of professional’s companies, in case there is more than one investor. This type of license is easy to set up, which will streamline business practice across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Alsuwaidi & Company’s Corporate & Commercial practice is continuing to monitor further legal developments, and we shall advise our clients as and when further information and details are released regarding foreign ownership and foreign direct investment into the UAE.