Abu Dhabi to issue FDI licence allowing 100% ownership of companies worth Dh2m and above

The new foreign investor licence covers 122 economic activities across sectors including agriculture, industry and services

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October  21, 2020.   Al Reem Island for area guide.  Reem Central Park Mangrove area.
Victor Besa/The National.
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Reporter:  Gillian Duncan
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Abu Dhabi will issue foreign direct investment licences to investors, allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses with capital of Dh2 million ($544,588) and above as part of its efforts to boost sustainable economic development.

The FDI licence, issued by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added), will cover 122 economic activities in sectors including agriculture, industry and services, the department said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The implementation of the FDI law in Abu Dhabi through the 'Foreign Direct Investment' licence contributes to achieving various objectives such as expanding the base of foreign investments; increasing the size of capital flows; enhancing and diversifying local production; and increasing the emirate's exports of goods and services," Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of Added, said.

In 2018, the UAE approved a new foreign investment law that would allow foreigners to own more than 49 per cent and up to 100 per cent stake in some UAE businesses. Abu Dhabi's new FDI licence is part of the government's efforts to attract foreign investment to the emirate, particularly in the non-oil sector.

Within the agriculture sector, the licence applies to companies planting grains, vegetables and fruits; activities related to crop and livestock production; and seed processing for reproduction, according to a tweet by the Abu Dhabi Media Office.

Within the industries sector, companies involved in food and beverage products, clothing and leather production, wood and cork products, production of plastics and synthetic rubber, and agricultural chemical products are eligible for the licence.

Within the service sector, businesses in marine transport, accounting and consulting services, hotel and restaurant management, computer programming services and research and development in science and technology, among others, can also apply for the FDI licence.

Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi identified a list of investment opportunities across a variety of sectors including healthcare, food production and energy that are open to foreign investors.

Mr Al Shorafa said the move will encourage investors, spur business development for foreign companies and attract businesses in technology and advanced industries, which contributes to Abu Dhabi's push for economic diversification.

Investors can secure the new FDI licence through Added's Abu Dhabi Business Centre by obtaining approval after completing required documentation and paying fees, according to Rashed Al Balooshi, Undersecretary of the department.

Some activities that do not conform to conditions for an FDI license are subject to approval through the UAE Cabinet, the department said.

A total of 13 activities – petroleum exploration and production; ground and air transportation services; activities related to investigations, security and military sectors; weapons manufacturing; banking and finance activities; and medical retailing such as private pharmacies –  are not covered by the new licence.