Shaikh Mohammad confers with Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, during the Cabinet meeting on Sunday. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Companies owned by GCC nationals other than UAE citizens and located anywhere in the Gulf will be allowed to open UAE branches with minimum paperwork and receive the same privileges granted to national-owned firms, according to a decision taken by the UAE Cabinet.

The Cabinet meeting was chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai yesterday.

The move comes four years after the six Gulf countries entered into a common market in 2008 with an objective to integrate their economies with a single currency, and will help other GCC companies expand in the UAE market and tap local resources and funds.

According to the communique of the 31st GCC summit, companies owned by citizens of member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be allowed to open branches for the same activities across the six-nation bloc. They will enjoy equal treatment everywhere across the GCC, the communique said.

Mohammad Bin Obaid Al Mazroui, former GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs and currently Director of the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting, told Gulf News, "The GCC has passed a resolution allowing companies to open branches in the six GCC member states if these companies are 100 per cent owned by Gulf citizens and have been in the same activity for a minimum of three years.

"This move will boost the investment climate in the GCC and it is expected to deepen economic citizenship and improve joint investment climate," he said.

However, once other Gulf states open their doors, the GCC companies will have a level playing field to compete in a wider GCC canvas. "There is no need to even get a licence for the new branch. What is required is ownership documents for the company and three years of financial statements and the branch can be opened soon after."

Najib Abdullah Al Shamsi, Director of the Studies and Research Department at the GCC General Secretariat, told Gulf News that this initiative is one of the Gulf Common Market's targets. "This will enlarge the scope of the Gulf Common Market and ease the flow of goods and services across GCC countries as well as create a lot of job opportunities," he said.