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General and Legal News from the UAE – April 2021 № 2

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published on 20 April 2021 | reading time approx. 6 minutes

 

The following provides a brief overview about the latest business, economic and legal news from all around the United Arab Emirates and GCC region.

 

    

 

Kuwait eases Covid-19 restrictions, exempts vaccinated arrivals from institutional quarantine

Kuwait has loosened certain of its Covid-19 restrictions, effective from 23 March 2021 onward.
 
The nightly curfew that had previously been in place from 5pm to 5am has been lessened by an hour to be effective from 6pm to 5am.
 
Food deliveries are permitted to be provided until 10pm, neighborhood walks are allowed between 6-8pm, provided people observe wearing face masks and respecting social distancing rules.
 
Furthermore, as vaccination efforts are fully under their way, there has been a change in the quarantine regulations: (fully) vaccinated people (two given doses at least two weeks prior to arrival in Kuwait, one given dose at least five weeks prior to arrival or recovery from Covid-19 plus one given dose at least two weeks prior to arrival) no longer have to go into the manda­tory;one week long institutional quarantine but can spend the seven day quarantine at home, after which a negative test result has to be produced.
 
Foreign nationals are still banned from entering the country; exempted are foreign diplomats and medical personnel as are first-degree relatives and accompanied domestic workers of Kuwaiti nationals.

Mohammed bin Rashid launches Strategy to transform Dubai into Worlds Creative Economic Capital

Globally, the creative sector is booming and contributes 10 per cent to the global GDP while simultaneously creating 30 million jobs. With Dubai’s interest in diversifying its economy the launch of a new strategy to double companies and jobs in the creative sector didn’t come as a surprise.
 

On 3 April 2021, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai tweeted “Today we launch the Dubai Creative Economic Strategy with the aim of transforming the emirate into a preferred destination for creativity from across the world and a capital of the creative economy by 2025 in order to achieve our vision for a future economy based on knowledge and innovation.” He added “We always welcome creative individuals and companies from all over the world, and we seek to provide a suitable environment for them to transform their dreams, aspirations and creativity into an added value and a sustainable economic resource.”
 
Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed the strategy aims to double the creative sector’s GDP contribution from currently 2,6 per cent to 5 per cent of Dubai’s economy by 2025. In order to achieve this aim, the number of companies in the creative industry should be doubled; from currently 8,300 to 15,000 as well as the number of jobs within the creative sector from currently 70,000 to 140,000.
 
By creating the right legislative and investment framework the government creates a support system for the creative industry and enhances Dubai’s attractiveness to creators, investors and entrepreneurs.
 
The strategy is part of the government’s Dubai Plan 2021, which seeks to promote Dubai’s leading role as a global hub in a variety of financial, economic and business sectors.
 
The following sectors are included in the creative industry: writing and publishing, audio-visual and print media (cinema, music, video), artistic and cultural industries, cultural heritage museums, historical sites, archives, major cultural events, libraries as well as the software & videogame industry and the design sector (fashion, architecture, software, gaming).


Saudi Free zones will attract more foreign investment

Saudi Arabia – in line with Saudi Vision 2030 aiming at decreasing the kingdom’s dependence on oil- announced various economic reforms and plans to create incentives for foreign business not only to hold a presence in the kingdom but also to move their headquarter to within the kingdom.
 
As maximum control of the business and 100 per cent ownership is provided and risk is diminished, Saudi Free Zones are attracting foreign investment. The establishment of the free zones is a step in the right direction. The kingdom’s first Special Economic Zone- referred to as the Integrated Logistics Banded Zone (ILBZ) is strategically located close by Riyadh’s international airport.
 
Free Zones in Saudi Arabia have similar benefits as the ones in the UAE. These include

  • 100 per cent foreign ownership
  • 100 per cent suspension of customs and import restrictions
  • No restrictions on capital repatriation
  • 50-year tax holiday to include VAT suspension while under customs suspension
  • Zero corporate, income and withholding tax on certain payments

 

Following the establishment of the Special Integrated Logistics Zone, the General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT) has issued Tax By-Laws (Art.10 of Royal Order No.A/17) setting out the tax and customs incentives applying to established entities in the ILBZ. These laws exempt Eligible Income for Eligible Entities conducting prescribed activities in the zone with respect to corporate income taxes, withholding taxes and value added taxes.
 
The exemption applies for a tax relief period of a) 50 years or b) until the entity ceases to be an established entity in the zone for any reason; whichever is earlier.

 

Dubai Customs introduces new mechanism to facilitate indirect export refunds

From 26 March 2021 Dubai Customs is offering a new service issuing export verification reports, which will be available on the Dubai Trade Portal. The zero rate can be claimed against the cleared export declarations up to three months. Overseas buyers previously submitted a single export declaration for goods purchased from different sellers.


KSA to plant 10B Trees to offset Carbon Emissions and combat land degradation

Saudi Arabia has initiated “The Saudi Green Initiative” in order to reduce carbon emissions, fight land degradation and increase vegetation cover in the country and thus is planning to plant 10billion trees in the next ten years.
 
Amongst various other initiatives and as part of “the Saudi Green initiative” the kingdom’s environmental efforts are part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Saudi Vision 2030” that aims at creating a better quality of life as well as reducing the countries dependence on the oil sector.
 
Other initiatives include:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint. The kingdom embarks on an ambitious energy program which aims at generating 50 per cent of the kingdom’s energy from renewable sources by 2030.
  • 130 metric tons of carbon emission should be reduced by the launch and the activation of clean hydrocarbon technology projects.
  • Several projects and initiatives to protect the marine and coastal environments went underway. Aim is also to increase the percentage of protected areas to more than 30 per cent; that exceeds the current global target of 17 per cent.

 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, “The kingdom, the region and the world needs to go much further and faster in combating climate change.” Saudi Arabia is therefore working closely with its GCC partners to reduce the regions carbon emission by increasing hydrocarbon production by more than 60 per cent from the current 7 per cent.
 
The Crown Prince added “The kingdom will work with its Gulf region allies and other countries in the Middle East region on a Middle East Green Initiative to plant an additional 40billion to 50billion trees respectively.” This initiative is anticipated to be the world’s largest reforestation program. It comes as an urgent solution as the region faces significant environmental challenges such as air pollution which is estimated to have reduced life expectancy by 1,5 years, climate challenges including desertification and as a result an economic risk due to $13billion being lost to sandstorms annually.
 
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, “As the leading global oil producer Saudi Arabia fully recognizes its share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis and just as the kingdom supports energy markets it is going to spearhead greener world initiatives.”


UAE hikes fuel prices for April 2021

April 2021 marks the second straight month that fuel prices have been increased in the UAE. Prices have been stagnant for almost one year.
 
Currently, as of April 2021, 98Super has been priced at Dhs 2,29/liter (an increase from Dhs 2,12/liter in March 2021); Special95 is priced at Dhs 2,17 (March 2021 Dhs 2,01); and Diesel costs Dhs 2,22/liter.
 
This peak in prices is partially due to the fact that UAE prices have been adjusted to international oil prices, that have been volatile for the past weeks as crude’s underlying market structure weakened, combined open interest in WTI and Brent has fallen nearly 7 per cent and refined product prices have slipped from recent highs.
 
However, as Covid-19 vaccination rates climb and OPEC keeps supply in check there is confidence in the longer-term outlook.


Dubai Restaurants do not require to screen off dining areas during Ramadan fasting hours

Dubai’s Department of Economic Development issued a directive stating that Restaurants do not require to obtain a permit to serve food during Ramadan’s fasting hours. Additionally, the circular stated that dining areas do no longer need to be screened off during fasting hours, effectively from the first day of Ramadan. In previous years, restaurants were required to screen off dining areas from the sight of those that were fasting. Restaurants needed to require a permit and were only open to non-fasting members of the community.
 

During this year’s Ramadan Restaurants have been directed to close by 4am; where last food orders have to be taken by 3am. Teams from Dubai Municipality will carry out inspections to guarantee compliance with Covid-19 proto­cols.

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