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Over the last few months, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have made a few legislative changes in relation to the Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) regulations as well as the associated administrative penalties, with the issuance of:

  1. Cabinet Resolution No. 109 of 2023 on the Regulation of the Real Beneficiary Procedures (the “New Resolution”), which came into effect on 16 November 2023 and superseded Cabinet Resolution No. 58 of 2020. The New Resolution applies to all corporate entities incorporated in the UAE mainland and in the non-financial free zones;
  2. Cabinet Decision No. 132 of 2023 relating to the administrative fines for violations of the New Resolution, which was issued on 15 December 2023 and superseded Cabinet Decision No. 53 of 2021.

On 28 September 2023, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued Federal Law No. 36 of 2023 (“New Competition Law”), which repealed and replaced Federal Law No. 4 of 2012. The New Competition Law signals a new era of enforcement by the UAE Ministry of Economy by providing a functional competition regime through, inter alia: extending a wider scope of application to almost all economic activities; expanding its mandate by prohibiting new conducts and introducing a new dominance test; and finally introducing administrative penalties and stricter financial penalties. The New Competition Law will officially enter into force on 28 December 2023, with the executive regulation to be published within six months thereafter.

On 2 October 2023, the UAE issued Federal Law No. 54 of 2023, which amended Federal Law No. 14 of 2018 on the Central Bank and the Organization of Financial Institutions and Financial Activities (the “Central Bank Law”) and changed the definition of currency to include a “National Digital Currency”. The amendment to the Central Bank Law was published in the Official Gazette on 31 October 2023.

On 1 November 2023, the Board of the General Authority for Competition announced that new financial thresholds would apply to determine whether a transaction is reportable to the Authority. By implementing such change, the aim of the Authority is to provide further clarity on the local nexus test required for a transaction to be notifiable to the Authority and to align the Saudi merger control regime further with international standards.

On 28 August 2023, the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition published proposed amendments (the Companies Amendment Bill and Companies Second Amendment Bill) to the Companies Act No. 71 of 2008. We have set out a summary of certain of these amendments, which, in our view, are noteworthy, as well as our views on these amendments.

On 13 September 2023, the Communication Space & Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia proposed a draft law on Global Digital Content Safe Harbor. The proposed law is aimed at providing a legal framework for intermediary service providers hosting and transiting global digital content in Saudi Arabia in a way that ensures no objection, deletion or modification of content hosted in and accessible within the Kingdom. If adopted, the effect of the draft law may be significant as it seeks to create a more favorable environment for investment in the Kingdom’s digital economy, and it would align the local legal framework with the international best practices.

Join us for an interactive session facilitated by Ben Allgrove, Baker McKenzie’s Chief Innovation Officer, that will touch on some of the compliance and governance risks around adopting AI from a contracting or transactional perspective on 1 and 2 November 2023 at Baker McKenzie, Al Fattan Currency House, Tower 2, Level 16, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).