Dubai-based Mashreq Bank has increased the limit it places on foreign ownership of its shares to 49 per cent.

The move comes ahead of UAE’s upgrade from frontier to emerging market status by the US-based index compiler MSCI to take place in May.

The upgrade will make UAE stocks, including Mashreq’s, more attractive to foreign investors.

A number of other UAE companies and banks have looked to increase their foreign ownership limits. On 16 February, Dubai-based Deyaar Development said it was aiming to allow 25 per cent of its share capital to be available to foreigners.

Dubai Islamic Bank announced in December it will increase foreign ownership limits from 15 to 25 per cent.

The UAE’s strict restrictions on foreign ownership had been blamed for putting off foreign investors.

MSCI announced the change in the UAE and Qatar’s status in June last year.