The future of the UAE’s regulatory framework

The UAE’s business landscape has evolved rapidly, as it transforms into a global investment powerhouse.

With rapid progression comes challenges. Many are global issues, a result of the spate of innovation which has played a critical role in changing the way that businesses operate. Whilst local challenges are nuances, arising from the UAE's emerging position as an innovator.

In any jurisdiction, it is commonplace to focus on shortcomings – over-regulation versus under-regulation. As a relatively new country, the UAE and its legal system is extremely agile; quickly reacting to changing business need. It is this agility that will prove instrumental in affirming the nation’s reputation as a leading global business hub.

About the report

This report highlights the results of a cross-sector survey and interviews with leading experts from the energy, financial services, infrastructure, real estate and technology sectors to better understand perceived barriers to success in the market.

We also recommend how businesses can navigate current challenges, and take full advantage of the opportunities that exist in this market.

Although a number of sector-specific issues were highlighted in the report, the survey revealed that ambiguous laws present their number one challenge across all sectors.

Despite these challenges the majority of respondents highlighted that the UAE represents the gold standard in terms of regulations, compared to other jurisdictions globally. This is an indication that that business confidence is strong and this will be instrumental in ensuring the UAE’s recovery post Covid-19.

Key findings

  • 40% of all sector respondents stated that ambiguous laws present their number one challenge. The other top two barriers identified are foreign ownership restrictions (39%) and hiring top talent (29%).
  • 44% of energy sector participants found the regulations especially challenging; compared to only 11% of infrastructure participants.
  • 78% of infrastructure sector respondents revealed hiring top talent as their key challenge.
  • 62% in the financial services sector confirmed that support was required to help them to navigate an increasingly digital world.
  • All respondents in the technology sector and 83% in real estate emphasised the need for more regulation to 'level the playing field'.
  • Despite these challenges:-
    • 89% of infrastructure and 85% of energy leaders, believe that the UAE represents the ‘gold standard’ in terms of regulation.
    • 97% of all sector respondents believe the country to be “extremely business friendly” or “somewhat business friendly”.


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