UAE launches unified registry to boost family businesses

The registry will contain all information related to family companies in the Emirates

Family-owned businesses are a critical part of the UAE’s private sector, accounting for a substantial number of jobs. Reem Mohammed / The National
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The UAE has launched a unified registry for family businesses, which are key drivers of the Emirates’ economy, to boost the sector and strengthen its governance.

Under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy, the registry will serve as a “comprehensive and unified database” containing all information related to family companies in the country, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Four new cabinet resolutions will also support the competitiveness of the legislation governing the sector in the Emirates.

The registry will bolster family businesses’ “sustainability and leadership” and solidify the UAE's position as a leading destination for local, regional and global family companies, the ministry said.

“The launch of the unified registry for the sector is an important step forward in strengthening its governance and regulating their registration procedures,” Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, said.

“This is necessary to build an integrated work system for family enterprises in the UAE in addition to the advanced legislation and technology infrastructure they currently benefit from.”

Family-owned businesses are a critical part of the UAE’s private sector, accounting for a substantial number of jobs. They also boost economic activity through their supply chain ecosystems.

They account for 70 per cent of private sector companies globally, 60 per cent of the total workforce and 70 per cent of the global economy, according to official estimates.

In the UAE, the sector contributes 40 per cent to the national economy, making up 90 per cent of the total number of private companies in the country.

Last year, the UAE launched the Thabat Venture Builder programme that aims to double family-owned businesses' contribution to the nation's gross domestic product to $320 billion by 2032 by preparing them for the future economy.

The programme aims to transform 200 family business projects into major companies by 2030 with a market value exceeding Dh150 billion ($40.84 billion) and annual revenue of Dh18 billion.

The launch of the registry falls in line with Cabinet Resolution No 109 of 2023 on the registration of family businesses, Abdullah Al Saleh, undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, said.

It includes the registration of family businesses, the issuance and revocation of their leadership certificates and continuous updates on their status.

This resolution specifies a set of controls and requirements related to the registration of family businesses in the registry. For example, a family business should be one of the types of companies that are not exempted from the scope of the Family Business Law Decree, and the majority of its shares should be owned by individuals from a single family.

The partners who own the majority of the shares of the family business are the ones who decide to register it.

Family businesses operate in a range of vital sectors including property, construction, retail and wholesale trade, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, financial services, health care, education and technology.

In October, Dubai announced a committee would be set up to boost family businesses and prevent harm to their reputations or financial positions while a dispute is being considered.

In May, Dubai Chambers set up a dedicated centre for family-owned businesses to help them to navigate challenges such as succession planning and achieving sustainable growth.

How to register a family business in the unified registry

  • The majority shareholders of the family-owned company apply for the registration.
  • The relevant authority, which also covers free zones, verifies that the family company meets all requirements.
  • The relevant authority is in charge of connecting and sharing the data with the family-owned company, and any changes or updates made to it are communicated to the Ministry of Economy.
  • The Department of the Unified Registry at the ministry is responsible for managing the registration of the family company and a certificate is issued.
Updated: December 27, 2023, 4:39 PM