Bahrain’s Central Bank has launched a consultation on draft Digital Financial Advice directives. The consultation ends on 20 February 2019. The draft directives state the rights and responsibilities of licensees who want to use digital financial advice tools. They also stipulate the prudential and conduct requirements associated with this digital advice to safeguard client interests. In addition, the draft directives will allow FinTech firms who focus solely on robo-advice to get a license from the Bank. If approved, they will enable licensees to use technology to offer financial advice to their clients.
Saudi Arabia’s Labour and Social Development Minister has issued a Decision approving the establishment of a coordination committee for labour committee. It will be called the national committee for labour committees in Saudi Arabia. The chairmen of labour committees will be members of this committee which will be responsible for representing the Kingdom internationally as well as conducting the necessary studies to activate its role, introduce itself to the private sector and draft the regulatory charter for its elections and meetings systems.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in the UAE, where the authorities will start officially accepting long-term visa applications from 3 February this year. The launch date is specified in a new Decision which also states two committees will be established to evaluate visa candidates. One will evaluate investor visa applicants and the other entrepreneur, scientist and those with specialist talent visa applicants. The applications will be assessed in line with the criteria previously laid out in legislation.
As part of this significant legislative development, Lexis Middle East has added the Arabic and full text English versions of UAE Federal Cabinet Decision No. 56/2018 to the legislation part of our service. We have also added a key analysis piece from Fragomen Middle East on this development as part of our Middle East News Analysis coverage.
Judicial sources in Saudi Arabia have confirmed the labour courts which were established a couple of months ago have issued a number of rulings in absentia against companies who don’t turn up to court hearings. The sources said these companies failed to turn up to hearings even though they have been property notified electronically. Most of the rulings issued in absentia cannot be appealed because they are related to small cases worth less than 20,000 Riyals. The source added these cases would previously have been postponed if the company didn’t attend the hearing. Cases which are subject to this procedure include requests for certificates of services, requests for documents and records related to labourers and held by an employer. They also include objections against decisions issued by residential service committees and complaints against employers and employees against decisions issued by social security institutions.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Dubai, where the Healthcare City Authority has announced it is introducing a new license for visiting doctors which will be valid for two years. It will allow international physicians, dentists and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners to enter the UAE and work in up to three clinical facilities in the City.
The license is aimed at attracting international medical talent to Dubai and is being introduced ahead of Arab Health, the largest exhibition for healthcare and trade professionals in the Middle East. Visiting doctors can currently only practice temporarily in the free zone through a license from the clinical facilities, which is valid for a three-month-period and can be extended for three months. With the new license, physicians will be able to work for two years, after they have obtained a Letter of Acceptance which is a document confirming their eligibility to work as physicians and enter into a contract with a clinical facility. They will also be able to sponsor their families during the license’s validity period. They can apply for a license from 20 January and a special DArab Health license fee rate will be offered from then until the last day of the exhibition on 31 January.
The Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee of Bahrain’s Parliament has recommended implementing a draft law limiting the property ownership rights of foreigners. If approved, it will only allow foreigners to own properties in tourism and investment areas. It will replace Article 1 of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 2/2001 on the ownership of land by non-Bahrainis. It is intended to limit the rise in real estate prices in some areas by concentrating non-Bahraini ownership in others. The Government had requested the Committee review the draft law, which will also require adjustments to other Government policies.
This week the spotlight is on tax and finance developments in Bahrain, where VAT came into force on 1 January 2019. Elsewhere, a Bahraini lawyer brought a claim against the Electricity and Water Authority before the High Civil Court requesting the annulment of a VAT decision issued by the Authority.
The lawyer benefits from water and power services for non-commercial purposes who sent a utility bill requesting payment of 5% VAT on these services. He cited Article 9 of Bahrain Decree Law No. 48/2018 on VAT which says the Authority cannot charge VAT if it was offering the service as a sovereign body. They can only charge VAT if it is offering commercial activities like those offered by the private sector.
The court accepted the lawyer’s arguments and said the Authority didn’t have the right to charge nationals VAT for power and water if it is for non-commercial activities. The court requested the Authority cancel the decision and pay legal costs.
According to local newspaper reports, Kuwait’s Council of Ministers has cancelled Kuwait Decision No. 512/2018 establishing a free zone in Shuwaikh port. However, the Public Authority for Industry will continue to undertake the tasks entrusted to it in the area until 1 April 2019. The Government has entrusted the Kuwait Ports Authority, together with the Kuwait Municipality to make future plans and projects for ports according to the country’s fourth organisational chart. Contracts with investors demanding the evacuation of buildings and land and handing them over to the Government should not be renewed.
Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has approved an amendment to Article 16(A) of the Health Law following recommendations from the health committee. Under the amendment, a health council will be established and linked to the president of the council of ministers. The Council’s chairman will be of Minister grade and appointed by a Royal Decree. Members of the council will include a representative of the Health Ministry and representatives from health services from other relevant ministries. The aim is to boost the council’s independence and enable it to exercise its supervisory and regulatory roles.