UAE Mulls 10-Year “Golden License” to Boost Business Continuity


At the meeting of the second Economic Integration Committee held on March 27, 2024, government ministers and representatives discussed the potential implementation of a so-called “golden license” for business in the UAE.

Under proposed new commercial license regulations, the UAE would introduce a five-year “silver commercial license” and a 10-year “golden commercial license, which are to be “offered at competitive rates”.

Under current UAE regulations, commercial licenses, which are given to companies that engage in the selling of goods or services within the country, are valid for only one year before needing to be extended. Commercial licenses in the country’s free zones are given for a period of up to five years. The five-year and 10-year commercial licenses would therefore considerably reduce the administrative burden for companies and make the UAE a more attractive destination for foreign businesses.

The provision of the silver and golden commercial licenses is hoped to improve business sustainability and continuity, boost government revenues, and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI).

It is as yet unclear what the criteria for the silver and golden commercial licenses will be, and which types of businesses would be able to benefit from the proposed scheme.

In April 2023, Bahrain introduced a similar “golden license” scheme that provides certain incentives for both domestic and foreign companies that invest in certain large-scale projects within the country. To be eligible for the license, companies must invest at least US$50 million, and the project must create more than 500 jobs in Bahrain.

Companies that receive the golden license will be eligible for various types of preferential treatment, including pioritised land allocation, infrastructure services and utilities, streamlined access to government services, and support from Bahrain’s Labour Fund and the Bahrain Development Bank.

According to reporting by Gulf Business, the golden license scheme has attracted US$2.4 billion in investments in nine major projects and is expected to create an additional 3,000 jobs in the country.

The UAE has been striving to improve its business environment in recent years in an effort to attract foreign investment and diversify its economy away from oil.

These efforts have included the introduction of a “golden visa” scheme for foreign talent, including investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, and “outstanding students and graduates”.

The golden visa allows foreign citizens to live in the UAE to work, study, and live for a period of five to 10 years, without needing a sponsor. Golden visa holders are also able to sponsor dependants.

If implemented, the golden and silver commercial licenses may help to further boost the UAE’s standing as a major business and innovation hub in the region and facilitate further trade and business exchange with other major economies.

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