DUBAI, (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates, the second-largest Arab economy, will introduce a new company law in six months allowing majority foreign ownership in some sectors, the country’s Minister of Economy said on Wednesday.
“It will be ready within six months,” Sultan bin Saaed al-Mansouri told reporters in Dubai. “We will allow that wherever it helps the economy of the UAE,” he said declining to name the sectors.
Nationals from outside the six oil-producing Gulf Arab states at the moment must take a local as a majority partner, except in specified areas called free zones.
The company new law is likely to attract more foreign investment in the country and encourage competition.
Former Economy Minister Lubna al-Qassimi said in June that 100 percent foreign equity participation could be allowed predominantly in the services sector, healthcare and education and some partial equity in the financial services.
The United Arab Emirates’ economy, the Arab world’s second-largest, grew more than 7 percent for a fifth straight year in 2007 as construction, industry and trade offset slower growth in energy.
Gross domestic product of the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter expanded 7.6 percent last year, compared with 9.4 percent the year before, according to Ministry of Economy data obtained by Reuters on March 10.
Growth has averaged 9.4 percent per year for the last five years. Manufacturing surged 15 percent in 2007, construction 17 percent, and wholesale and retail 8 percent, ministry data showed.