The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority has announced the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme will start on 18 November. It will allow eligible tourists to request VAT refunds they incur on purchases. The first phase will see the digital system of the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme implemented at Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah International Airports. By mid-December, the system will be fully operational and will include all airports and land and sea ports in the UAE in line with the Cabinet Decision to strengthen the UAE’s leading position as a global tourist destination.
Egypt’s Parliamentary Budget Committee has approved the amendments to the 2008 Real Estate Tax Law. The Committee approved the proposal to extend the real estate revaluation period from August 2018 to August 2021, instead of the Government’s proposal to extend it 2020 only. It is understood the Government will submit a new draft real estate taxes law before 31 December, which will include significant amendments. The Finance Ministry has agreed to make changes to prepare for implementing the real estate tax law in the coming days.
This week the spotlight is on legal developments in Qatar, where the Cabinet has approved a draft DNA Law and referred it to the Shoura Council to consider. If approved it will replace Qatar Law No. 9/2013 and under the Law, the Interior Ministry will establish a DNA database and will be the relevant authority. It will be devoted to preserving genetic fingerprints resulting from samples taken under the Law. It will be illegal to take biological or biochemical samples and to carry out DNA tests, or store data in a DNA database, for evidence, investigation or trial, without a Public Prosecution decision or a competent court decision to do so.
Data recorded in the DNA database will be confidential and may not be viewed without the permission of the Interior Minister, the Public Prosecution or the competent court.
In addition, DNA tests and data kept in the DNA database will be authoritative unless proven otherwise, except where provided for in Chapter 2, Part 6 of the Family Law.
The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has announced that from 21 October 2018, it will start implementing select UAE Cabinet Decisions regarding residence permits and visitor visas. It is expected that on 21 October 2018 the regulations on residence permits for widowed or divorced women, residence permits for students under parents’ sponsorship and in-country visit visa renewal will come into effect.
Qatar’s Interior Ministry and Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has announced the exit permit requirement for foreign nationals’ departure from Qatar will be abolished on 28 October 2018. The Ministry has also called on employers to submit lists of individuals who, based on the nature of their work, should continue to obtain their sponsor’s pre-approval before exiting Qatar. The number of these workers must not exceed 5% of the total headcount of the company.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Oman, where the Sultan has approved five Sultani Decrees, including a Decree amending the country’s Law on the Protection of Competition and Prevention of Monopoly.
Oman Sultani Decree No. 22/2018 amends Article 1 of Oman Sultani Decree No. 67/2014 replaces the word ‘Authority’ wherever it occurs in the Law with ‘Centre’ and replaces the definition of the ‘Authority’ wherever it occurs in the law with ‘The Centre: Centre of Protection of Competition and Prevention of Monopoly’. Anything which contradicts or contravenes the Decree is cancelled. It will be published in the Official Gazette and come into force the day after it is published.
The Sultan also approved a Sultani Decree amending Oman Sultani Decree No. 35/2012 which promulgates the System of the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Exports Development. Under Oman Sultani Decree No. 23/2018, anything which contradicts or contravenes the Decree is cancelled. It will be published in the Official Gazette and come into force the day after it is published.
In addition, the Sultan approved Oman Sultani Decree No. 26/2018 establishing the Oman Commercial Arbitration Centre. It will be affiliated to the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry but will have its own legal identity and financial and administrative autonomy. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry will issue the operational systems and functions of the Commercial Arbitration Centre. Anything which contradicts it is cancelled. It will be published in the Official Gazette and come into force on the day it is published.
The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority has published VAT guidelines on insurance to provide guidance on the VAT treatment of insurance transactions. Amongst other things, the guide clarifies the export of life insurance/life re-insurance services outside the implementing states is zero rated rather than exempt and accordingly the related input tax is recoverable in full. It adds insurance services in relation to real estate will not be treated as services related to real estate provided consideration for the insurance services is not included in the real estate service charges. In addition, the collection of a premium on behalf of the insurer or remittance of the premium to the insurer by a disclosed insurance broker is not subject to VAT. Employers will also not be able to recover VAT on the purchase of health insurance for employee family members unless there is a legal obligation or a contractual obligation and it is necessary to enable the employee to perform their employment duties.
Dubai’s Rental Disputes Centre has launched the Rental Good Conduct Certificate service. The service is the first of its kind in the region and is aimed at enhancing trust between landlords and tenants. It is also aimed at reducing the number of disputes between them. It is part of moves to improve the Emirate’s performance in this area.
This week the spotlight is on tax developments in Bahrain, where the Kingdom’s Parliament has voted to approve a Decree-Law to impose 5% VAT on goods and services in a special joint session. They will become the third GCC member to join the GCC-wide VAT agreement. It will potentially come into effect on 1 January 2019, according to a schedule laid out by the Finance Minister in February. However, the Finance and Economic Committee of Bahrain’s Parliament had reportedly recommended the law be rejected.
In addition, a Bahraini newspaper has published the list of products to be zero-rated for VAT. Customers will not be charged VAT on the goods although they will still be VAT taxable for accounting purposes. The list includes 34 types of meat and fish, including tuna, lamb, camel and chicken. It includes 37 types of fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, onions, garlic, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, peas, zucchini, okra, parsley, apples, oranges, pomegranates and apricots. Eight types of coffee and tea are also included as well as grains, sugars, dairy products, water, oil and other foodstuffs. The Implementing Regulations for the VAT Law are expected to be published next week.
This week the spotlight is on employment developments in the UAE, where the country’s Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry has announced that from 14 October, a worker’s insurance scheme will replace the existing bank guarantees system. The new insurance scheme will apply to all private-sector employees, including domestic workers.
Instead of a fixed amount of 3,000 AED which typically must be paid against every work permit application, employers will pay an insurance premium of 120 AED per person, for a two-year work permit. This will provide an insurance coverage of up to 20,000 AED in lieu of unpaid wages, return ticket and against work-related injuries, among other benefits.
Employers will be able to recover earlier deposited bank guarantees only on the cancellation or renewal of a work permit and after the payment of an insurance premium. They must be free from any wages-related violations for at least six months before the renewal date of the work permit.