In September 2018, the UAE issued the Foreign Direct Investment Law (FDI Law) to open up the UAE mainland market to foreign investors in certain sectors of the economy. This was followed by the announcement on July 2019 of the relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions for 122 business activities, specifically in the manufacturing, agricultural and services categories (Positive List), pursuant to the FDI Law.

On 17 March 2020, the UAE Cabinet issued Cabinet Resolution No. 16 of 2020 containing the full FDI Positive List and the requirements for establishing FDI companies in the UAE mainland, reinforcing the UAE’s commitment to become the leading foreign investment destination in the region.

Positive List

With the issuance of the full Cabinet Resolution, the UAE has now confirmed the Positive List of 122 economic sectors and activities in which foreign direct investment is permitted and the criteria for the licensing of FDI companies. This includes the minimum capital requirement for each activity, the Emiratisation thresholds, and the specific conditions for certain business activities. A link to the Resolution and the full list of activities and criteria can be found here.

As the Department of Economic Development (DED) in the respective Emirates is tasked with implementing the Resolution and imposing the various requirements, we are closely monitoring the situation and will provide further updates on how the Resolution will be applied in practice.

To speak to us in relation to any foreign investment issues in the UAE, please feel free to contact one of the lawyers below, or your usual Baker McKenzie contact.


Omar Momany is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Dubai office and Head of the UAE Corporate & Commercial practice. Omar focuses on public and private mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, corporate governance, joint ventures, commercial matters and corporate/shareholders' disputes in the UAE and throughout the region. Omar has over 17 years' experience in the Middle East and has acted for local and regional corporates and financial institutions, governments and regulatory bodies, multinationals, family businesses and royal houses.


Hani Naja is a partner in the Corporate & Commercial practice of Baker McKenzie in the UAE. Hani has been practicing since 2007 with a focus on M&A, reorganizations and post-acquisition integration as well as corporate structuring in the Middle East with a particular focus on the UAE and Qatar. His experience also covers general commercial contracts and advice on corporate governance and compliance. Hani focuses on the technology and the retail sectors but has aso gained substantive experience advising both companies and government agencies in the defense sector.


Tala Shomar is an associate in the Corporate & Commercial practice of Habib Al Mulla & Partners, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, based in Dubai. Tala advises international and local clients on a variety of corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and corporate restructuring. She also specialises in general corporate governance, regulatory and commercial advisory matters including company incorporation, corporate maintenance and liquidation both in the UAE and the region.

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