Middle East
The Authors

Bashir Ahmed

Bashir Ahmed

Managing Partner


Tel: +971 4 330 3900

Bashir is the managing partner of Afridi & Angell. He joined the firm in 1988 and became a partner in 1993. He advises clients on cross-border, general corporate and commercial, private equity, banking, licensing and maritime matters. Bashir is a member of the New York State Bar, the Lahore High Court Bar Association, and the International Bar Association. He holds an LLM from Punjab University Law College and a BA from Oxford University.

Saurbh Kothari

Saurbh Kothari

Senior Associate saurbh@afridi-angell.com

Tel: +971 4 330 3900

Saurbh joined Afridi & Angell in 2008 and is a senior associate in the corporate and commercial team. He advises both local and international clients on a broad range of corporate/commercial and employment matters. Saurbh is a member of the Bar Council of Rajasthan, India. He holds an  LLM from the University of California, Berkeley and a BBA LLB from National Law University, Jodhpur, India.

By Bashir Ahmed and Saurbh Kothari

On 13 August 2020, the Ruler of Dubai issued Law 9 of 2020 to regulate family ownership of common property in the Emirate of Dubai (the Law). The Law aims to establish a legal framework for family ownership of common property in Dubai and to facilitate its transmission among successive generations. This concept of undivided family assets introduced by the Law also exists in other jurisdictions.

There are many family run businesses in Dubai. These businesses have been in existence for many years and are often in the name of one or more senior family members even though other family members are beneficiaries of such businesses. This ownership of businesses and family assets in the name of a select few senior family members (without written agreement on ownership, management or succession) can create disputes between the family members, especially in case of the death of the owner of record of such assets.

The Law also aims to provide a legal framework for maintaining continuity of family ownership and avoiding division of businesses amongst family members to the detriment of the businesses and families.

Family Property

A family is defined under the Law to include the spouse, blood- relatives and lineage up to the fourth degree. Although the Law does not specifically mention that only UAE nationals can avail benefits under the Law, the Law has primarily been enacted for the benefit of UAE nationals. However, nationals of other countries and of any religion are not excluded from the Law.

The Law permits family members who have a common property to classify such common property as a family property. A family property may be contributed by any member of the family. The term family property in not restricted to real estate and can  include shares/interest in companies (except public shareholding companies), assets in individual establishments, movable and immovable properties and other intellectual property.

Family Property Contract

A family property may be created, regulated and managed by a family property contract entered into between family members. Property subject to a family property contract shall be treated as common property of the family members. A family property contract is the fundamental document governing the family property and must be drafted carefully to avoid any ambiguity. It must meet the following conditions:

  1. the parties (also referred as partners) to a family property contract must be members of one family;
  2. the parties must have one business or common interest;
  3. the share and interest of each party must be identified in the family property contract;
  4. each property (which is part of the family property) must be owned by one or more persons who has the right to transfer the property;
  5. the contract must be signed by all the parties in the presence of a UAE notary public; and
  6. must not violate public

Amendment to a Family Property Contract

Any amendment to a family property contract requires the consent of persons holding at least 75 per cent of the family property. The family property contract may provide for a higher approval threshold.

Term of a Family Property Contract

The term of a family property contract can be a maximum of 15 years. The term may be renewed by unanimous consent of the partners provided that each such renewed term does not exceed 15 years.

Note that for renewal of any term, unanimous consent of the partners is required. A single partner (irrespective of the share of such a partner in the family property) can therefore withhold the renewal of a family property contract.

If partners fail to agree to a term for renewal of a family property contract, any partner may, by giving six months’ notice, apply to a committee (to be established pursuant to the Law to settle disputes arising out of a family property contract) for permission to take his shares out of the family property.

Management of Family Property

The family property is to be managed by one or more managers appointed by partners holding two thirds of the family property. The number of managers must be an odd number. The manager(s) can be a partner or a third party including a corporate entity.

A family property contract can also provide for formation of a board of directors to supervise the manager(s). The rules and regulations regarding appointment, governance and powers of board of directors may be included in the family property contract.

The manager(s) shall have general powers to manage the family property including but not limited to distribute profits to the partners, represent the family property before third parties and such other responsibilities and powers as may be specified in a family property contract.

The manager(s) can be held liable and be required to indemnify the partners for any losses caused due to his negligence or breach.

Partner’s Transfer of Shares in a Family Property

If a partner wishes to transfer his shares in a family property, he must offer such shares to the other partners in proportion to their shares. However, if such a transfer by a partner is an assignment of his shares to his spouse or any of his first-degree relatives or any specific partner, the partner transferring the shares is not obligated to offer the same to the other partners, unless otherwise agreed in the family property contract.

Additionally, a partner may transfer his/her shares to third parties (other than the partners) or impose a right in kind in favour of third parties, provided that he has the consent of partners holding at least 51 per cent of the family property. Although not expressly stated by the Law, such third parties must presumably be other family members who are eligible to be partners in the family property.

In case none of the partners are interested in purchasing the shares of a partner or an heir or the partners do not agree to a transfer to a third party, the affected partner or heir may approach the committee (discussed earlier) which may permit the transfer to a third party provided that (i) there is a strong justification for transfer of shares to a third party; and (ii) such transfer will not affect the continuity of the family property.

Acceptance by Government Authorities

The Law should bring order in the management and succession of family property and businesses in the Emirate of Dubai. All government authorities in Dubai are required to take appropriate steps (such as preparation and maintenance of commercial and real estate registers) to ensure acceptance and enforcement of the Law. It will be interesting to see how other Emirates will recognise a Dubai family property contract.

The Law is an effort to simplify succession issues and to prevent major family assets from being sold to generate liquidity for distribution among heirs upon the death of a patriarch. ■

Afridi & Angell

Founded in 1975, Afridi & Angell is a full-service UAE law firm in its fifth decade at the forefront of the legal community. From the beginning, our hallmarks have been a commitment to quality, unsurpassed knowledge of the law and the legal environment, and crafting of innovative business solutions. Licensed in the three largest Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah as well as the Dubai International Financial Centre, our practice areas include banking and finance; corporate and commercial law; arbitration and litigation; construction; real estate; infrastructure projects; energy; project finance; maritime (wet and dry); and employment. We advise local, regional and global clients ranging in size and sophistication from start-ups, sole proprietorships, family-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and investors to some of the world’s largest public and private companies, governments and quasi- government institutions. We attract and retain clients with our dedication to practical guidance focused on their business needs supported by decades of experience here in our home jurisdiction, the UAE.

Afridi & Angell is the exclusive member firm in the UAE of top legal networks and associations, most notably Lex Mundi, the world’s leading network of independent law firms, and World Services Group.


Afridi & Angell’s inBrief provides a brief overview and commentary on recent legal announcements and developments. Comments and opinions contained herein are general information only. They should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice.

© 2020, Afridi & Angell

Related Articles by Firm
The separability of an arbitration clause
- the Sharjah Court of Appeal sets limits
UAE amends the Labour Law
The amendments introduce equal treatment for male and female employees in respect of compensation and parental leave ...
UAE Foreign Direct Investment Law vs GCC Customs Exemption
By Charles Laubach and Saurbh Kothari, Afridi & Angell
Further changes to civil litigation in the UAE
The amendments bring about some important changes to how matters will be litigated in the UAE courts.
Implementation of Abu Dhabi Local Content Program
This major development will have significant impact on businesses that provide goods and services to governmental and semi-governmental entities.
Foreign direct investment in the UAE: The approval of the positive list
The positive list contains 122 activities in the agricultural, manufacturing and services sectors.
Electronic signatures in the UAE: what you need to know
Electronic signatures were not common before the Covid-19 lockdown, but the legal framework is well established.
DMCC Company Regulations 2020: Keeping up with international best practices
The regulations provide for more clarity and flexibility for businesses wishing to conduct business in and from the DMCC.
Relief for employers during Covid-19 epidemic
The UAE has introduced measures that employers in the private sector may progressively resort to during the current period.
Compliance with official measures to combat Covid-19 made mandatory
Significant responsibility for ensuring compliance with directives to stop the spread of Covid-19 has been delegated to the law enforcement authorities of the UAE.
Recent measures implemented by the UAE authorities in response to Covid-19
Noteworthy measures that have been implemented by various UAE authorities to date.
Interim relief prior to starting arbitrations under the Federal Arbitration Law
A note on recent experiences in obtaining interim orders from the Dubai Courts.
The New DIFC Leasing Law
The New Law is a welcome development which may stimulate the property market in the DIFC.
DIFC Workplace Savings Scheme (with effect from 1 February 2020)
The Amendment introduces a new mandatory workplace savings scheme, which replaces the current end-of- service gratuity regime.
Slightly more clarity: Economic Substance Regulations in the DIFC
The new guidance is helpful for businesses in the DIFC, but significant questions still remain.
Regulatory Authorities to regulate Relevant Activities in accordance with Economic Substance Regulations announced
Businesses licensed in the UAE should fast track an assessment to determine if they are subject to the regulations.
UAE Ministry of Finance issues guidance on Economic Substance Regulations
Thirteen topics covered in the guidance that may be of interest to businesses affected by the regulations.
Law 6 of 2019: On the ownership of common property in the Emirate of Dubai
The New Law is an important development for Dubai as most real estate is held by way of property owned in common.
The private equity, venture capital and start-up ecosystem in the UAE: Recent developments
The changes will result in the establishment of new funds and attract more entrepreneurs and investors to the UAE.
SCA issues guidelines for financial institutions on anti-money laundering
The advent of AML and ATF guidance is a welcome step for businesses in the UAE.
Proposed New DIFC Data Protection Law
The DIFC Authority has proposed the enactment of legislation (the Proposed Law) to replace its current Data Protection Law.
New economic substance regulations in the UAE
The rules are a response to the UAE being put on the EU's blacklist of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.
Keeping up with the trend: The New DIFC Insolvency Law
The New Law introduces many welcomed features and is a step forward in maintaining the UAE’s position as a world leading trade hub.
The New DIFC Employment Law: Key Changes
The new law will directly affect almost 24,000 employees based in the DIFC.
Merger clearance matters in the UAE
Despite the limited number of filings and the dearth of decisions, parties conducting M&A in or from the UAE should consider the impact of the competition regime.
New regulations offer welcome guidance to Anti-Money Laundering Law
The new AML Law has been shaped by international AML standards and provides several mechanisms to combat money-laundering.
Health data confidentiality on a rise in the UAE
A new law requires businesses that use information and communication technology for processing health data to ensure its confidentiality, accuracy and validity.
New Tawazun economic programme policy guidelines issued
It is hoped that the new programme will enable defence contractors to identify more accessible opportunities to generate offset credits.
New administrative fines imposed by the UAE Insurance Authority
Insurance and reinsurance providers should review the resolution and the list of violations to ensure their compliance.
Significant changes to UAE’s Civil Procedure Code
While the changes are welcome, they put pressure on litigants to plead their cases within relatively short time periods ...
New long-term residency visas in UAE
In a welcome development, the new law introduces long-term residency visas for four categories of persons.
New promotion regime for domestic funds
A new agreement could make the UAE a much more attractive place to establish funds.
Federal Penal Code amendments
The amendments are designed to make the UAE's Penal Code consistent with other recent federal legislation and current federal enforcement policies.
Netting arrangements made enforceable in the UAE
For decades, banks and other counterparties in the UAE have obtained financial services from foreign financial institutions. Industry bodies, such as the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), the International Capital Market Association and the International Securities Lending Association, have ...
New anti-money laundering law
The new law introduces subtle but important changes to the AML landscape in the UAE.
The UAE's new Foreign Direct Investment Law
Majority foreign ownership is not yet a reality, but the framework is now in place.
Significant precedents from the DIFC courts
Afridi & Angell successfully defended an anti-suit injunction, an application to exclude evidence and obtained a document production order.
New services by Dubai Rental Disputes Centre
The Rental Good Conduct Certificate service is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the world.
ADGM announces tech start-up licensing regime
The licence provides access to a Professional Services Support Programme aimed at allowing entrepreneurs entry to a community of businesses, financial services and professional advisers.
Dubai relaxes rules on filing appeals before the Court of Cassation
The Decree provides that appeals to the Court of Cassation must be filed within 60 days of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
Off-plan sales in Dubai: Risks and rewards
Whether buyers are looking to expand their real estate portfolio or buyers are simply looking to find their ideal home, great deals can be found in Dubai’s off-plan real estate sector ...
The UAE Federal Arbitration Law: A First Look
The approval of the long-awaited law by the Federal National Council was announced in March this year.
Legal reforms in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has introduced new rules governing the functioning of the Emirate’s judiciary.
UAE: Off-plan sales: risks and rewards
Great deals can be found in Dubai’s off-plan real estate sector, but it is critical that prospective buyers do their homework ...
The New UAE Pledge Law – Security Registration
UAE Federal Law 20 of 2016 introduced a new regime for registering a pledge over moveable assets which are pledged as security for the repayment of a debt ...
UAE VAT Designated Zones Defined
A Designated Zone is required to be a specific fenced area with security measures and Customs controls in place ...
Certificate of Good Conduct Required for all UAE Employment Visas
New requirement will be introduced shortly ...
Dubai: Dawn Raids – Do you have a policy in place, and is it fit for purpose?
How you handle a dawn raid will have a significant impact on the discussions and negotiations that are sure to follow.
Dubai: Changes to Law Allowing Developers to Terminate Off-Plan Sales Contracts
An important development that will assist developers who are facing a difficult real estate market ...
UAE VAT Executive Regulation Update: Free Zone Guidance
The UAE Ministry of Finance has announced the Executive Regulation for the Federal Decree-Law ...
Opportunities in Dubai’s Healthcare Sector
Dubai is the fastest growing healthcare market within the GCC and is becoming an increasingly attractive sector for investors. Afridi & Angell explain the key drivers and options available to investors ...
VAT registration in the UAE has commenced
The United Arab Emirates Federal Tax Authority has commenced accepting registrations for Value Added Tax through its online portal ....
UAE: VAT and Excise Tax
The UAE has issued substantive law on Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Tax ...
New Ministerial Decision brings clarity to Private Joint Stock Companies
The private joint stock company is one of the forms of company contemplated by UAE Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 concerning commercial companies ...
Be VAT ready - Tax Procedures Law is already here
Under the VAT regime, businesses will be collecting taxes on behalf of the government and will file tax returns accordingly ...
UAE – Centre for Amicable Settlement of Disputes update
Centre for Amicable Settlement of Disputes can no longer mediate disputes when a bank is a party to such dispute ....
New UAE Funds Regime
The UAE has embarked on an ambitious undertaking by introducing new business friendly mutual funds regulations to stimulate the UAE funds industry and provide the foundation for a more developed regional funds regime in the Gulf Cooperation Council ...
New UAE Pledge Law over Movable Assets
The new Pledge Law of the UAE was enacted on 12 December 2016 ...
Doing Business in Iran: Donald J. Trump; Mining Investment Opportunities
The election of Mr. Donald J. Trump as President of the United States has resulted in much consideration by corporates of existing strategies with respect to Iran...
The UAE Competition Law Clarified
Two Cabinet Decisions have been issued which provide guidance on the implementation of the Competition Law, particularly on market share thresholds and on small and medium establishments.
Potential Criminal Liability for Arbitrators and Experts in the UAE
The UAE Penal Code was amended to introduce the concept of criminal liability for arbitrators, experts, and translators who issue dishonest and partial decisions and opinions.
The New UAE Bankruptcy Law
Perhaps the most important new feature of the new Law is the introduction of a regime that allows for protection and reorganization of distressed businesses ...
Doing Business in Iran: The Momentum Builds
The momentum for doing business in Iran is expected to increase at an even greater pace after the November US elections.
Proposed Insurance Authority Decision Concerning Marketing of Insurance Policies by Banks in the UAE
The Emirates Insurance Authority prepared a draft regulation concerning marketing of insurance policies by banks in the UAE.
UAE Ministerial Decision No. (272) of 2016
The Ministerial Decision No. (272) of 2016 addresses the scope of Article 104 of Federal Law No.2 of 2015, stating which articles relating to public and private joint stock companies apply to limited liability companies.
Doing Business in Iran: the banking bottleneck
With the easing of sanctions against Iran, vast business opportunities have opened up. The challenge is whether and how to participate in such a potentially phenomenal market without taking undue risks.
Doing Business in Iran: Life After (Secondary) Sanctions
The legal landscape for doing business in Iran has changed significantly since the easing of certain Iran related sanctions.
Doing Business in Iran: Life After (Secondary) Sanctions
The legal landscape for doing business in Iran has changed significantly in the past seven months ...
UAE Legal Bulletin
Updates on the possibility of a Value Added Tax, the new PPP Law and other developments which companies doing business in the UAE should know
UAE's New Labour Regulations Take Effect January 1, 2016
A number of recently announced initiatives could introduce potentially significant changes to the rules governing the workforce in the UAE.
Introducing the Dubai World Trade Centre Free Zone
Aside from its central location and its world class facilities, the Dubai World Trade Centre Free Zone offers a wide range of services for companies.
UAE Legal Bulletin July-August 2015
Insights into the new Commercial Companies Law and relevant corporate updates which can help companies conduct business in the UAE, particularly in Dubai
The New UAE Commercial Companies Law – A First Look
We highlight the changes which the new UAE Commercial Companies Law (Federal Law No.2 of 2015) introduces.
Do I need a DIFC will?
With the opening of the Wills and Probate Registry in the DIFC, it is now possible to register a will in Dubai and have a high degree of confidence that it will be enforced.
DFSA imposes record fine on Deutsche Bank
The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) imposes its largest fine to date on Deutsche Back AG Dubai (DIFC Branch), sending a strong signal that DFSA is both independent and unafraid to take on well-resourced opponents.
Abu Dhabi Global Market starts first phase of activities
Effective 15 June 2015, the Abu Dhabi Global Market began accepting license applications from existing non-financial service tenants of Al Maryah Island that have either a private limited or branch office legal structure.
Dubai Statistics Center – you may be next!
Companies in the Emirate of Dubai have recently been receiving questionnaires requesting detailed information about their business, including financial information...
Free Zones in the UAE – an overview
Strategically located between Europe, Africa and Asia, the United Arab Emirates has become a hub for trade and commerce throughout the world ...
UAE Competition Law - All bark and no bite?
Federal Law No. 4 of 2012 on the regulation of competition (the “Competition Law”) introduced a regime for the regulation of anti- competitive behavior in the UAE which previously did not exist ...
Related Articles
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Enforceable obligation to be friendly: a new principle of law
A recent judgment from the Commercial Court in London established a new principle of law, in one of the cases brought by Clyde & Co’s dispute resolution team in Dubai ...
Investigative Intelligence
A world of anti-corruption legislation

Latest Articles