November 12, 2018 / 7:48 AM / a month ago

REFILE-UAE to list sectors for full foreign investment in Q1

(Fixes location, paragraph 6)

By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government early next year aims to publish a list of the sectors in which it will permit foreign ownership of up to 100 percent, the economy minister said on Monday.

Special business areas in Dubai known as “free zones” already permit 100 percent foreign ownership, but so-called “onshore” businesses limit foreign ownership to 49 percent.

A new foreign investment law, approved last month, allows foreigners to own more than 49 percent and up to 100 percent in UAE-based businesses.

The law is one of a series of economic reforms aimed at spurring investment and attracting foreign investors amid an economic slowdown in the Gulf, due to lower oil prices and a slump in real estate.

Foreign ownership increases will be allowed in sectors such as technology, space, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence, Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said.

“These sectors are the ones we need to pay maximum attention to attract investment from overseas,” he said at a news briefing in Dubai.

Other sectors are under consideration and the government expects to release a full list of sectors in the first quarter of 2019, he said.

The government previously said a number of sectors and activities would be excluded from changes in the foreign investment law, including those related to oil and gas production and exploration, land and air transport, and security and military.

The minister said he expects foreign investment to grow by between 15 percent and 20 percent next year. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Writing by Davide Barbuscia; editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jason Neely)

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