No more restriction for a foreign company ownership, according to the rules.

For many years, a restriction precluded foreign investors from owning more than 49% shareholdings in UAE companies, with 51% ownership given to Nationals. This means that foreign companies can only operate in the UAE by partnering with a local entity unless they are based in certain free zones, special areas where foreign ownership can be 100% but subject to specific trade rules.

It is not the first time that this idea came out but it met the opposition of the Federal National Council (FNC) and other bodies, but UAE is determined to diversify its economy beyond oil and sees foreign investment as a key way to do this.

The UAE is introducing legislation to increase the contribution of the non-oil sector to the country from 70 percent to 80 percent by 2021.

A final draft of the new investment law, allowing 100% foreign ownership, has been sent to the UAE Cabinet for approval, UAE Economy Minister Sultan Al Mansouri confirmed.

Al Mansoori said he expected to UAE to attract $10.6bn-$10.8bn in foreign investment this year from $10.3bn last year.

“It’s a marginal increase but we have to take into consideration the current situation and atmosphere in the world right now. The environment is sometimes challenging,” he was quoted as saying.

“It will be this year, I can assure you, the latest will be Q4,” Al Mansouri told media, “I am optimistic; it is critical that we finish the investment law this year.”

The new law, which will liberalize sectors selected by the government including manufacturing and the service industries, is expected to boost foreign investment inflows by up to 15 percent, he said.

There will be an impact on the residency visa rules shifting to 10-year visa for investors and 5-year visa for students. The ten-year visa will be made available to investors in the UAE, as well as those who are specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, as well as for all scientists and innovators.

“The UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors,” said Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai and UAE Prime Minister.

“Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents in the UAE.”