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Published on: Feb. 18, 2022, 2:51 p.m.
ADDED investment opportunity
  • Abu Dhabi has now become home to many leading international companies

By Suman Tarafdar

In what is expected to be a major draw for Indian investors, The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) has announced 100 per cent ownership of business by non-UAE nationals. The initiative includes a list of 1,105 registered commercial and industrial activities, which are open for ownership by natural and legal non-citizens, enabling them to fully or partially own commercial companies to practise these commercial activities in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the UAE.

The move is part of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to enhance the business environment for foreign companies and ensure that they are operating in a welcoming and supportive ecosystem, says Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman, ADDED. “It builds on a series of substantive business-friendly reforms enacted by Abu Dhabi in recent months that includes citizenship reforms and legislative updates. This is the outcome of the government’s constant engagement with the private sector to understand their needs and challenges and reinforces the emirate’s strong position as a regional hub for innovation.”

Abu Dhabi has now become home to many leading international companies, bringing advanced technology and innovative solutions, adds the chairman. “As the pandemic has brought ICT to the forefront as a critical enabler of business continuity, this boosted the FDI inflow into the technology and knowledge-based sectors. In fact, cumulative FDI in the information and communications technology sector (ICT) increased significantly during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the previous quarter. It is worth noting that Abu Dhabi facilitated a smooth investment journey for global FDIs, especially after allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership across 604 professional services. The FDI is a bright spot for this year, as it has been increasing consistently over the past year and the past couple of quarters. Abu Dhabi’s foreign direct investment stock grew significantly in 2020, compared with 2019. It also recorded significant growth in Q1 2021, compared with the corresponding period in 2020. And, we expect it to continue at the same trend as a result of our newly launched initiatives that will help create new investment opportunities across the various sectors.”

Eye on India

With the close ties that India and the UAE share, it is no surprise that Indian investment is high on the priority list. “India is a large market with an abundance of ambition, creativity and innovation,” points out Al Shorafa. “Abu Dhabi wants to partner with Indian companies to support them in taking their businesses to the next level. There are many Indian companies thriving in Abu Dhabi and we expect interest to increase with the move to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership.”

The Indian Embassy estimates that investments by Indian companies in the UAE would be in excess of $85 billion. India-UAE trade is $59 billion, making the UAE India's third largest trading partner in 2019-20. The UAE is India’s second largest export destination, with nearly $29 billion invested in 2019-20.  For the UAE, India was the second largest trading partner in 2019, spending about $41.43 billion in non-oil trade alone.

Setting up a business in Abu Dhabi is easier than ever, with the new 100 per cent foreign ownership, informs the ADDED chairman. “For companies interested in establishing here, make the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) your first port of call. ADIO is the central government hub responsible for attracting investment in Abu Dhabi, and it extends support to global investors seeking to grow in the emirate.”

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