Key legal factors to consider when entering the UAE and Qatar market

Whether you have won your first contract within the Gulf region or are preparing to tender for one of the many commercial opportunities, the considerations of establishing a presence here can be vast. Due diligence on the laws and regulations within the region will be your first point of call and many will appoint their lawyer to carry out the necessary research.

Findings will uncover that you are required to appoint a local Emirati or Qatari partner who will hold 51% of the total shares in the local company. This will automatically flag as a potential stumbling block that your Board of Directors may not be on side with. This was definitely a major concern to many of our clients who were new to the region or those who had problems with a previous individual sponsor.

With this in mind, in 2002 Links Group pioneered the corporate nominee model, a legally robust structure ensuring the foreign party shareholder has full control of their business, which is usually assigned to their chosen General Manager. This tried and tested legal structure promotes beneficial ownership and ensures that all clients have financial, operational and management control over their UAE and or Qatari business.

The corporate nominee model provides a multitude of benefits to the client, not only in terms of entry by ensuring full control, but also in terms of exit by having clear terms and conditions within the legal documents prepared by an engaged legal counsel who, has most likely worked closely with Links Group at some point in the last 14 years.

In 2015, 65% of new engagements for corporate nominee services were via referrals from local and international law firms and auditors. We are proud of the collaboration we have with such firms and our ongoing working relationships are imperative.

Of course, there are those who claim you need an influential local to assist with your business needs and therefore it would be more beneficial to have this individual as the local partner. Links Group do advocate the need to engage with the local community to assist with business development opportunities, however this should not be confused with the ownership and legal structure of your company.

Article by Wayne Merrick on Feb 3rd 2016
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