Federal Decree No. 26 of 2020 (“Amendments to the Commercial Companies Law”) introduces a number of amendments, including replacing the requirement that at least 51% of the shares of a company in the UAE mainland be owned by one or more UAE nationals. The law empowers local authorities to define and enforce foreign ownership requirements (i.e. allowing 100% foreign ownership for local companies).

The requirement for a UAE citizen to act as an agent of a branch or representative office of a foreign company in the UAE has also been removed.

These amendments entered into force on June 1, 2021.

The UAE Department of Economic Development ("DED") has published lists of licensed activities that local 100% foreign-owned companies are entitled to carry out under the new amendments.

The list of activities licensed by the Dubai Economic Development Department (DED Dubai) is limited to commercial and industrial activities. Currently, activities related to services are excluded.

Abu Dhabi's DED list is limited to commercial and industrial activities, mainly related to industrial, manufacturing and related services.

The UAE's Department of Economic Development has announced that no additional fees, guarantees, capital requirements or similar criteria will be required to achieve 100% foreign ownership.