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New Offshore Company Registry Opens In UAE

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

20 September 2006

Ras Al Khaimah, part of the United Arab Emirates, is launching a new offshore companies registry which is expected to attract thousands of international companies over the next three years.

The facility, part of the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ), is designed to offer international companies one of the most attractive offshore tax and legal regimes in the world and is expected to rival Dubai's Jebel Ali Free zone as well as other more established offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

"The scheme will help businessmen and investors to develop new business models," announced Oussama El Omari, CEO for RAK FTZ at a seminar heralding the International Registry.

"The RAK FTZ International Companies Registry gives more flexibility than other offshore company jurisdictions in the UAE. For example international companies will be able to own an interest in properties designated for freehold sales, anywhere in the UAE and there are no restrictions on the types of business other than those set out by public policy and local regulatory requirements of the licensing authority," El Omari explained.

In certain circumstances, the International Registry will allow the provision of 'bearer shares', under which the shareholder's identity is known only to the appointed agent. However, under the rules, the authorities would be able to see the shareholder's identity if investigating suspicious transactions.

In addition, Ras Al Khaimah would allow companies to operate with a single director and would not impose an audit requirement on registered entities.

Also, at the time of incorporation, investors will be able choose the law under which disputes and inheritance matters will be handled for the company.

According to Al Omari, the registry has been set up by "extracting the best international rules and regulations to cater to the region," and "thousands" of companies have already expressed an interest in registering in the new offshore zone.

It is expected by the RAK FTZ that some 5,000 firms will be registered within three years of the registry's launch, Al Omari said.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining offshore confidentiality is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at

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