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03 March 2024

Ministry simplifies business registration

By Mohamad Al Kady


The Ministry of Economy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with government agencies to create a Uniform Commercial Register (UCR), which is expected to ease handling of commercial licensing and registration procedures for international investors.

Minister of Economy Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi said the URC will achieve three main objectives: create a database for commercial registry, unify registration of commercial names and trade marks, and create a unified classification of economic activities in the country.

The MoU was signed by Sheikha Lubna with heads and senior officials of the economic departments in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, the municipalities of Fujairah and Ajman and Ajman’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The UCR project is the first of its kind in the country in terms of technical and implementation methods. The ministry has spent about Dh20 million since 2005 on similar strategic projects to develop technical infrastructure,” she said.

Sheikha Lubna said the World Bank has identified the UAE as one of the least cumbersome countries in which to set up new business and the URC will further enhance the country’s competitiveness to attract more international investments. “It will facilitate faster and cheaper processing and benefit both the investor and the national economy. I strongly urge our local economic departments and trade registry bodies to collaborate closely to experience the full benefits of this internet-enabled link, which is connected to the ministry and all departments,” she added.

The ministry will establish a uniform guide for the classification of economic activities nationwide, form permanent committees to ensure compliance with stipulations of the final classification manual and constantly update the manual.

Dr Abdullah Almosfer, director of Umm Al Quwain’s Department of Economy, told Emirates Business the registration process of new economic activities faced major obstacles.

“In the current system, any investor should register his commercial licence and trade name with authorities in all the emirates. Classification of categories is a major issue, one business is categorised as industrial in one emirate, while it is categorised as commercial in another one.”

Almosfer said this creates problems for investors, so the UCR will set up clear categories for all economic activities.

“It will help investors because as soon as a commercial licence is granted in one emirate, it will be immediately registered in all the other emirates through the central system at the ministry. Investors will not have to tour all the emirates to register their licence.”

He said the UCR will start operating within six months, but the issue of duplication in commercial registration and trade names of economic activities will need a longer time to resolve.

The parties agreed to meet project objectives, which include standardisation of information, exchange of data and documents and trade and trade name registration papers as well as electronic archiving. They also committed to collaborate on the creation of a robust and consolidated database.

After the agreement, Sheikha Lubna said the ministry will link the electronic systems of economic departments, chambers of commerce and local municipalities in each emirate with a central electronic database managed by the Ministry of Economy. “This will help improve efficiency of organising the registration of commercial names and avoid duplication of registration.”

Big rise

Experts estimate that more than 200,000 commercial licences have been issued in the UAE.

Ali Ibrahim, deputy director of Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, said between 80,000 and 90,000 licences have been given in Dubai . “The URC will help the process,” he said.

Hamad Abdulla Al Mass, executive director of International Economic Relations at Abu Dhabi’s Department of Planning and Economy, said there are 64,000 licences in the emirate.

Abduallah Almosfer said Umm Al Quwain issued 25,000 commercial licences.