Economists, advisers and business consultants say the move to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership and 10-year visa are positive.

While details are as yet too sparse for experts to predict their impact with any certainty, all agree that they will serve to increase the UAE’s attractiveness to the international business community.

Joe Hepworth, Director Middle East at foreign investment and trade development specialist OCO Global, pointed out that only 151 Fortune 500 companies had regional headquarters in the region — 148 of them in the UAE — while another 77 operated in the region without a regional corporate base. The rest had no regional presence at all.

“From this, you could obviously surmise that you’ve still got 300-odd F500 companies who could be attracted to set up here for whom the new rules would provide further incentive and reason.”

Investors often asked about ownership, he said. “I think in terms of investor confidence, investor perception, investor comfort, that it’s another reason for looking at an already attractive investment destination.”

Dr Steven Buigut, Professor of Economics at the American University in Dubai (AUD), said the 10-year visas would reduce the uncertainty of doing business in the UAE.

“This will boost the attractiveness of the UAE not only as a business centre but also long term promote build-up of a critical mass of experts that will promote home grown innovation,” he said, adding that longer-term visas would also boost demand in real estate.

Chris Seymour, Managing Director of consultancy Mott MacDonald Middle East, said the move would be welcomed across a number of sectors.

“While the construction and engineering sector is unlikely to feel the direct effect of these changes — at least initially — the likely increase in FDI will provide a stronger environment for investment which will slowly feed into the supply chain,” he said.

Professor Christopher Abraham, CEO and Head of SP Jain School of Global Management’s Dubai Campus, said the new ownership rules would certainly attract investment, and the new visas would attract some of “the world’s best”.

“In the years to come, we are likely to see a lot of innovations and disruptive ideas coming from this initiative which would put the UAE on the global map known for progressive reforms and positive developments,” he said.