The government of the UAE has released an official list of commercial activities open to onshore companies with 100 per cent foreign ownership – the so-called positive list. Previously, all onshore UAE companies required a local shareholder but for those activities on the positive list this is no longer a requirement.
This is considered a major breakthrough, particularly for ocean carriers, ship operators and charterers, and other companies in the marine industry wishing to establish a presence in the UAE. Activities on the positive list include ship repair; maritime cargo transport; ship chartering; and pilotage and towage.
There are still some residual restrictions to full foreign ownership, even for activities on the positive list. This includes for example some minimum share capital requirements.