Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, comments on the law at the Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai. Lee Hoagland / The National.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, comments on the law at the Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai. Lee Hoagland / The National.

UAE moving towards allowing 100% foreign ownership of businesses outside free zones

Plans for a law to allow full foreign ownership of companies outside free zones in strategic sectors are at an advanced stage, the Minister of Economy said.

At a the Annual Investment Meeting in Dubai on Monday, Sultan Al Mansouri promised a new “law of Foreign Direct Investment that allows 100 per cent ownership in some sectors outside free zones”.

The law is intended to encourage innovation and technology transfer. It will likely require foreign companies that are granted 100 per cent ownership rights to provide support or expertise to sectors identified by the government as strategically important. It would only apply to some industry sectors.

The Ministry of Economy declined to state which sectors would see a relaxation of foreign ow nership restrictions, and did not say when the law would be introduced.

A first draft of the law has been approved by a Ministry of Justice committee, and the Cabinet. It will now be redrafted by the Ministry of Justice, before it is sent to the Federal National Council and the Cabinet for approval.

“It’s a strategy we believe could work and if this is implemented we suspect the focus sectors would likely to be around social infrastructure, such as education and healthcare, where there is a pressing need for greater foreign investment,” said Murad Abida, regional head of corporate, at DLA Piper.

Mr Al Mansouri said that the forthcoming Companies Law and Commercial Arbitration Law should also make the regulatory environment more friendly for foreign investors.

Foreign direct investment inflows to the UAE increased by 25 per cent to $13 billion in 2014, up from $10.4bn the previous year, Mr Al Mansouri said. The country was ranked 11th in last year’s AT Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index.

The UAE has traditionally been a net investor in foreign countries, due to the sizeable holdings of its sovereign wealth fund, and considerable financial reserves. Total outflows were equal to around $100bn last year, Mr Al Mansouri said.

But the new FDI law is aimed at making the country more attractive to inward investment, which the Ministry of Economy regards as important “to build an economy that is based on knowledge, innovation and creativity”, Mr Al Mansouri said.

Mr Al Mansouri also announced that the UAE had set itself two new economic policy targets.

The country aims to reduce its dependence on oil revenues to below 10 per cent of Gross National Product “in the upcoming years”, he said.

He also expressed a desire that the UAE should be among the top 10 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. The country was ranked 22nd globally in the 2015 index.

“UAE government is strongly committed to removing bureaucratic hurdles that face foreign investors,” Mr Al Mansouri said.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Should late investors consider cryptocurrencies?

Wealth managers recommend late investors to have a balanced portfolio that typically includes traditional assets such as cash, government and corporate bonds, equities, commodities and commercial property.

They do not usually recommend investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies due to the risk and volatility associated with them.

“It has produced eye-watering returns for some, whereas others have lost substantially as this has all depended purely on timing and when the buy-in was. If someone still has about 20 to 25 years until retirement, there isn’t any need to take such risks,” Rupert Connor of Abacus Financial Consultant says.

He adds that if a person is interested in owning a business or growing a property portfolio to increase their retirement income, this can be encouraged provided they keep in mind the overall risk profile of these assets.

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

Global institutions: BlackRock and KKR

US-based BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager, with $5.98 trillion of assets under management as of the end of last year. The New York firm run by Larry Fink provides investment management services to institutional clients and retail investors including governments, sovereign wealth funds, corporations, banks and charitable foundations around the world, through a variety of investment vehicles.

KKR & Co, or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is a global private equity and investment firm with around $195 billion of assets as of the end of last year. The New York-based firm, founded by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, invests in multiple alternative asset classes through direct or fund-to-fund investments with a particular focus on infrastructure, technology, healthcare, real estate and energy.



Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures


1 Sam Bennett (IRL) Deceuninck-QuickStep - 4:51:51

2 David Dekker (NED) Team Jumbo-Visma

3 Caleb Ewan (AUS) Lotto Soudal 

4 Elia Viviani (ITA) Cofidis

5 Matteo Moschetti (ITA) Trek-Segafredo

General Classification

1 Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates - 12:50:21

2 Adam Yates (GBR) Teamn Ineos Grenadiers - 0:00:43

3 Joao Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep - 0:01:03

4 Chris Harper (AUS) Jumbo-Visma - 0:01:43

5 Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo - 0:01:45

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and