Foreigners can own 100 pc in UAE businesses soon

ABU DHABI: The UAE is enacting changes to investment laws to allow 100 per cent ownership for foreigners to set up business in the country, according to reports from there.

The country is also bringing in sweeping changes to residency laws that will see key professionals such as doctors, engineers and the likes and their families being eligible for visas with periods up to 10 years.

The names of the list of key professions that will be included for such privileges will be announced later. The new changes will allow students to secure five-year long visas and ‘exceptional’ graduates can remain in the country for 10 years.

The current visa rules require the students to renew their visas every year leaving their parents running after the visa formalities every year. The changes were announced after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

“The UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

The Government departments have been instructed to expedite the work on implementing the changes by the end of 2018.

Hundreds of Indian business houses, many having turnover running into billions of rupees, do not own the business fully though the 100 per cent investments have been made by them in many cases as the law does not allow foreigners to own more than 49 per cent of the business, except in free zones.

What they do to overcome this ‘irritant’ element is create several internal agreements with the ‘sponsor’, the national who owns the majority stake in the business. “Though this arrangement has historically been proved safe and without any hidden risk, many foreigners still view this as a disincentive to making huge investments.

An Indian-owned business group, which came out with a public issue in India recently has clearly stated as part of the risk factors in the prospectus that such business investments by foreigners in the UAE, in fact, carry a lot of risk when it comes to official dealings.

The new move will be a real boost not only to the foreign business houses but more to the families that have grown up children who wish to continue their studies in the UAE.

The real estate sector will be the biggest beneficiary of the new move from the government at a time when the sector is struggling to find a grip in the wake of the slowing demand and growing over-supply.


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