Dubai: The UAE’s Minister of Economy outlined the country’s new foreign ownership law in a speech on Monday morning, but said that a full list of the industries it applied to would not be published until the first quarter of 2019.
The official did, however, confirm that the space and technology sectors, in addition to renewable energy and artificial intelligence, would be opened up to greater foreign ownership.
The foreign direct investment (FDI) law, which technically came in to force last week, is intended to drive investment in to the UAE, in turn boosting economic productivity and creating jobs, by opening up the rules around ownership of companies.
Previously, foreign ownership of UAE onshore companies, or those outside of special economic free zones, was limited to 49 per cent.
Under the new legal framework, companies in certain industries can now be up to 100 per cent foreign owned.
It is not clear what percentage of foreign ownership the whitelisted sectors will be allocated, just that they will be between 49 per cent and 100 per cent.
Broadly, the law sorts business activity in to three separate categories: First, the so-called Negative List, which includes companies and sectors that will continue to be limited to national investment; second, the Positive List, which will encompass sectors now open to foreign investment; and thirdly, the sectors that are not specifically permitted or banned.
“We hope to publish the Positive List in the first quarter of next year,” said Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, the UAE’s Minister of Economy, in a presentation to the press.
In practice, said law firm Pinsent Masons, applications to establish foreign investment companies (FICs) will only be accepted once the relevant committees, units, and authorities are established, and the positive list has been drawn up.