10.09.2018

UAE COMPANIES LAW UPDATE

New Zealand businesses looking to establish a foothold in the UAE have many options

Setting up a company in the UAE

New Zealand businesses looking to establish a foothold in the UAE have many options.

They can choose between setting up in the UAE mainland, or, in one of the many free zones in the UAE. 

Businesses will typically choose to incorporate a company “onshore” in the UAE mainland if they intend to operate in the local UAE market. 

By contrast, entities that set up in a free zone are can operate in that free zone, but not mainland UAE. 

Ownership of companies

Companies incorporated in the UAE mainland are required to have at least 51% local Emirati shareholding i.e. the maximum allowable foreign ownership is 49%.

Entities set up in a free zone can have 100% foreign ownership. 

This ability to retain 100% ownership makes setting up a free zone entity preferable for many businesses, even though this will impact on their ability trade in the local UAE market. 

Change in ownership of mainland companies

Earlier this year Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, announced on Twitter that the UAE would allow 100% foreign ownership of mainland companies. 

https://twitter.com/search?q=100%25%20foreign%20ownership&src=typd

It is expected that the scope of the change – at least initially – will be limited to certain sectors and industries.  However it is still a significant development and may signal further changes in the future. 

A new law implementing the change is anticipated shortly.

For practical legal advice specific to your business, contact Hesketh Henry’s specialist Transport and Trade team:

https://www.heskethhenry.co.nz/Our+Services/Transport+and+Trade.html.

Disclaimer: Hesketh Henry does not advise on UAE law.  We have strong relationships with a number of law firms in the UAE who can give detailed advice on setting up in the UAE.

Simon Cartwright
Partner

Simon is a trade and transport specialist.  He is qualified in New Zealand and England. 

Previously a partner with an international law firm and based in Dubai, he has extensive experience advising on trade issues, including sanctions.

Simon.Cartwright@heskethhenry.co.nz

Tel: +64 9 375 8727

Mobile: +64 22 301 9870

Do you need expert legal advice?
Contact the expert team at Hesketh Henry.
Kerry_100x100 1
Media contact - Kerry Browne
Please contact Kerry with any media enquiries and with any questions related to marketing or sponsorships on +64 9 375 8747 or via email.

Related Articles / Insights & Opinion

4 million reasons for a tailored Shareholders’ Agreement: Dold v Murphy
The Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Dold v Murphy highlights the importance of having an appropriate Shareholders’ Agreement in place.
21.10.2020 Posted in Business Advice & Company Law
Things to know before starting a lending business in New Zealand
Things to know before starting a lending business in New Zealand
09.10.2020 Posted in Corporate & Commercial law
Hesketh Henry announces new managing partner
We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Christina Bryant as our new managing partner.
09.10.2020
Supreme Court forecast – storms ahead for directors
On 24 September 2020, the Supreme Court released its long-awaited decision in the case of Debut Homes Ltd (In Liquidation) v Cooper [2020] NZSC 100.
Is this Organic? Proposed Regulation of Organic Product Claims
The Organic Products Bill, which is currently at the Select Committee stage, proposes to introduce a regime to regulate claims made by businesses that products are organic (known as making an “organ...
06.10.2020 Posted in Business Advice
Government calls time on Dodds litigation
Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited v Dodds [2020] NZCA 395
Privacy Act 2020: new obligations to report privacy breaches
The Privacy Act 2020 creates a new requirement to report serious privacy breaches, as from 1 December 2020. 
25.09.2020 Posted in Business Advice & Employment Law & Regulatory
Send us an enquiry
For expert legal advice, please complete the form below or call us on (09) 375 8700.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
-->