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 the Head of the UAE Corporate/M&A practice of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, based in Dubai. With over 15 years' experience in the Middle East, 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.


Hani Naja is a partner in the Corporate & Commercial practice of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. He 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, particularly in the UAE and Qatar. Hani also advises on general commercial, corporate governance and compliance matters, and has gained substantive experience in the technology, retail, defense and government sectors.


Tala Shomar is an associate in the Corporate & Commercial practice of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla based in Dubai. Tala advises international and local clients on mergers, acquisitions and company restructuring. She also advises on general commercial advisory matters in Qatar, and previously on a number of high profile projects in Jordan.

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