Abu Dhabi announces list of 1,105 activities eligible for 100% foreign ownership

On 22 May 2021, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) published a list of 1,105 commercial and industrial business activities that will be eligible for 100% foreign ownership pursuant to the Commercial Companies Law  No 2 of 2015 (CCL) as amended by the Federal Decree 26 of 2020 (Amendment Law). This announcement marks a major step forward in clarifying the details of the new foreign ownership policy, which is reported to be effective from 01 June 2021 at the DED.

It is not yet known whether additional business activities will be added to the list for Abu Dhabi at a later stage. The Cabinet Resolution defining the “Strategic Impact” sectors that do not qualify for 100% ownership as provided for in the Amendment Law, is also awaited and will further clarify the practical application of the Amendment Law. It is anticipated that Dubai Department of Economy will also make available, its approved list of business activities eligible for 100% foreign ownership on 01 June 2021 or shortly thereafter.

Effective 01 April 2021, Article 329 of the CCL as amended by the Amendment Law, has been repealed and Foreign Branches do not require a UAE National Agent. However, we await guidance on how to implement this change on the license and expect this will be addressed on 01 June 2021 along with the ownership change.

The Amendment Law is part of the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at liberalising business activity in the UAE with the aim of attracting more foreign investment and company set up across the United Arab Emirates.

Whilst the list of activities for Abu Dhabi has been published, we are not aware of any conditions relating any particular activities. It is rumoured that minimum share capital requirements may apply to some activities to avail 100% foreign ownership, as well as potential restrictions on the size of the project, however this remains to be seen.

Please see a full list of the 1,105 activities published for Abu Dhabi here.

Some notable exclusions from the list of activities include:

  1. Trading, including wholesale and retail trade
  2. Banking and finance activities, including FinTech and remittance
  3. Food and beverage retail outlets and retail boutiques
  4. Utilities and telecom activities
  5. Distribution.


Links Group, an Equiom company, is closely monitoring updates from the competent authorities concerning the implementation of the Amendment Law and the list of permitted and excluded activities as well as other developments associated with the introduction of the new foreign ownership policy.

For more information or if you have any queries related to the list of commercial activities please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on info@linksgroup.com or +971 (0) 4 446 3900.


Disclaimer: All information provided in this article was correct at time of publishing.