UAE roadmap to regulate family-owned businesses

Issac John /Dubai Filed on January 4, 2021
For the family ownership contract all parties must be members of the same family and have a single common interest.

In August last year, Dubai issued a law regulating family-owned businesses in the emirate to help protect family wealth.

The UAE has put into place a roadmap to regulate operations of family-owned businesses in the country and ensure their continuity over successive generations, the Minister of Economy said on Monday.

Emphasising the importance of developing a legislative structure to streamline the operations of family businesses in accordance with international best practices, Minister Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri said that family businesses are a major focus area in the country’s efforts to build a more flexible and sustainable economic model. “A clear plan has been developed to enhance their leadership and competitiveness.”

In August last year, Dubai issued a law regulating family-owned businesses in the emirate to help protect family wealth and grow their contribution to the country’s economic and social development.

The law allows for new family ownership contracts to be formed setting out the rights and responsibilities of family members. For the family ownership contract to become legally binding, the new law also states that all parties of the contract must be members of the same family and have a single common interest.

In September, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Family Business Council – Gulf (FBC-Gulf) that will see the two entities cooperate on a research agenda that meets the changing needs of family business in Dubai.

Al Marri said that his ministry is keen to raise the level of coordination with all its partners from federal and local government entities and the private sector to develop several specific initiatives that would enhance the readiness of priority sectors and economic activities, most notably family businesses, to keep pace with the nation’s transformation over the next 50 years.

“The work teams formed by the Ministry and FBC-Gulf have put in place a number of tracks to move forward in this regard, and formulate the necessary economic policies to provide a supportive and encouraging environment to enhance the contribution of family businesses and their significant roles in the diversification and growth of the national economy,” the minister said.

Al Marri made these remarks during a meeting with the representatives of FBC-Gulf, which was held to review the progress of work achieved by the teams and joint work committees.

The meeting was also attended by Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; Abdulaziz Abdalla Al Ghurair, chairman of the board of directors, member and honorary chairman of the Family Business Council-Gulf; Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Saleh, undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy; and Omar Al Futtaim, vice-chairman of the board, besides several experts and advisors from both sides.

Both sides underlined the importance of the existing cooperation between MoE and the FBC-Gulf and the important initiatives presented by the joint work teams that support the operations of this sector and provide it with the necessary legislative and organizational support.

The joint-team reviewed the steps that have been implemented so far subsequent to the meetings of three main working groups — the strategy team, the research & development team, the legislation and best practices team.

The teams have agreed to start work in the next phase according to fixed time frames and clear specifics and implementation mechanisms that focus on three main tracks. These include development of policies that support the growth of family businesses, enhancing data collection regarding family companies, and raising awareness on the importance of family business governance.

The two sides also agreed to form a technical committee to follow up on the implementation of the plans and initiatives agreed upon.



Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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