25 July 2019
UAE: New Law to Allow up to 100% Foreign Ownership of Maritime Businesses
The United Arab Emirates is drafting a new law that will allow up to 100% foreign ownership of maritime companies. The legislation also includes a number of provisions to encourage more foreign maritime investment in the UAE.
In addition to removing the cap on foreign ownership, which currently is set at 49%, the law will introduce new rules to protect the welfare and treatment of abandoned seafarers, make it much harder for ghost ships to operate in UAE waters, broaden opportunities for vessel owners to register under the Emirati flag, set up a new dispute mechanism to fast track judgments, and ease the pressure on court procedures. It will also establish a maritime investment fund for the sector, as well as creating a ‘maritime navigation chamber’ to represent the interests of private sector stakeholders in the sector.
The bill will bring the UAE Maritime Commercial Law (Federal Law Number 26 of 1981) up-to-date in terms of compliance with international standards on pollution, ballast management, and antifouling practices. It includes extensive updates to rules relating to maritime collisions, assistance, insurance, and passenger and goods transport. It also introduces new provisions – as well as definitions – for individuals covered under maritime law, such as maritime agents (shipping agent and transit agent) and introduces provisions relating to freight forwarders.
UAE Infrastructure and Development Minister, Abdullah Al Nuaimi, announced the new legislation on 7 July, which is expected to be passed into law by the first half of 2020. The new bill is still under review by the Federal Transport Authority - Land and Maritime. It has already undergone two years of preparation and consultation with the private and public maritime sector, and is scheduled to be passed to the UAE cabinet for approval before the end of this year.