Construction—United Arab Emirates—Q&A guide
Construction—United Arab Emirates—Q&A guide

The following Construction practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Construction—United Arab Emirates—Q&A guide
  • 1. If a foreign designer or contractor wanted to set up an operation to pursue the local market, what are the key concerns they should consider before taking such a step?
  • 2. Must foreign designers and contractors be licensed locally to work and, if so, what are the consequences of working without a licence?
  • 3. Do local laws provide any advantage to domestic contractors in competition with foreign contractors?
  • 4. What legal protections exist to ensure fair and open competition to secure contracts with public entities, and to prevent bid rigging or other anticompetitive behaviour?
  • 5. If a contractor has illegally obtained the award of a contract, for example by bribery, will the contract be enforceable? Are bribe-givers and bribe-takers prosecuted and, if so, what are the penalties they face? Are facilitation payments allowable under local law?
  • 6. Under local law, must employees of the project team members report suspicion or knowledge of bribery of government employees and, if so, what are the penalties for failure to report?
  • 7. Is the making of political contributions part of doing business? If so, are there laws that restrict the ability of contractors or design professionals to work for public agencies because of their financial support for political candidates or parties?
  • 8. Is a construction manager or other construction professional acting as a public entity’s representative or agent on a project (and its employees) subject to the same anti-corruption and compliance as government employees?
  • 9. Are there any other important legal issues that may present obstacles to a foreign contractor attempting to do business in your jurisdiction?
  • More...

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to construction rights in United Arab Emirates published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: August 2020).

Authors: Pinsent Masons—Mark Raymont; Jed Savager; Rita Allan; Christopher Neal; Luke Tapp; Melissa McLaren

1. If a foreign designer or contractor wanted to set up an operation to pursue the local market, what are the key concerns they should consider before taking such a step?

Engineering consultancy (which, in the UAE, includes architectural design) and contracting are highly regulated activities, and each emirate has its own regulatory regime. A designer or contractor wishing to work in an emirate must be licensed in that emirate. Possession of a design or contracting licence from one emirate does not entitle the licensee to undertake projects in other emirates.

In Dubai, design businesses can generally only operate through a civil company (akin to a partnership) or branches of foreign companies, while in Abu Dhabi they can be undertaken by limited liability companies (LLCs) 51 per cent owned by Emirati nationals, or a branch of a foreign company. Contractors, on the other hand, can be established as LLCs or branches of a foreign company in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Further, consultancy (including design) and contracting activities cannot be conducted through the same entity.

Federal Law No. 19 of 2018 on

Popular documents