Want to Setup Business with Full Foreign Ownership in Abu Dhabi? Here's Everything you should know

by Zaara 20, Jun 2022

Want to Setup Business with Full Foreign Ownership in Abu Dhabi? Here's Everything you should know

A few days ago, the United Arab Emirates confirmed that new rules allowing 100% foreign ownership of mainland companies will come into full force from June 1, 2021. The changes to the commercial company ownership laws, which were first announced in November last year, remove the requirement for onshore companies to have a local sponsor as a majority shareholder.

UAE has constantly been trying to strengthen its position as a global investment hub by bringing expat-friendly laws. Full foreign ownership in mainland business is another cherry on the cake for entrepreneurs and established business owners. The UAE, through this regulation, realizes the importance of encouraging investors and entrepreneurs as well as their pivotal role in achieving economic development.

The law supports openness and flexibility in legislation to provide an economic climate in line with the latest and best investment practices. It also eases the setting up and doing business in the UAE and further attracts foreign direct investment in various vital sectors. It also aims to raise the attractiveness of the investment environment through open and flexible legislation to provide a business-friendly environment in compliance with the best international investment practices in preparation for the next 50 years.

What is the Way-Forward for Investors?

If you are a budding entrepreneur looking to set up a business in Abu Dhabi, an investor who wants to invest in businesses in Abu Dhabi, or an established business owner wanting to expand your operations in the capital city of UAE, this is your opportunity.

Earlier, if you had to set up, invest or expand in Abu Dhabi Mainland, you'd have had to appoint a Local Sponsor who'd own 51% of the shares in the business. But, this law changes everything. You can now wholly own your company without the need of having a Local Agent.

But first, let us look into the business activities where this law is applicable. The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development revealed a list of 1,105 registered commercial and industrial activities that are now open to partial or full foreign ownership in the emirate. According to the type of activity, these activities are applied to companies licensed following the federal and local laws regulating business licensing controls.

Here are a few activities booming under this law –

  • All kinds of Building Projects Contracting
  • Organization and Event Management
  • Grocery & Supermarket
  • Information Technology Network Services
  • Cyber Risk Management Service
  • E-commerce through Website
  • E-commerce through Social Media
  • Accounting and Auditing

Suppose you have already established your business in Abu Dhabi and are operating business activities under the Positive List. In that case, you can adjust the status provided you comply with the regulations.

You can also visit the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) to go through the list of business activities under this regulation. This announcement of the list of economic activities available for foreign ownership reflects the keenness of the Abu Dhabi government to attract further foreign direct investments and promote an open and resilient competitive business environment.

Once you decide on the business activity, the remainder of the registration process is similar to before, minus appointing a local sponsor.


Abu Dhabi's economy is poised to grow by 6 per cent to 8 per cent over the next two years, driven by the oil sector, government spending, financial services and foreign direct investment. The emirate is also planning to deepen partnerships between the private and public sectors to increase the former's contribution to the emirate's gross domestic product. With this new law, Abu Dhabi is set to take a major leap of growth both economically and financially.

How can we help?

If you are interested in considering this opportunity and kick-starting your dream venture in Abu Dhabi, we at Commitbiz can assist you. Right from business incorporation to office space, we cover it all. Our consultants have years of experience in this field and can make the process hassle-free. Contact us today for more information.

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