Bahrain’s King has directed the Prime Minister to expand quota preferences given to SMEs in Government procurement and tenders and in service facilities in Government entities. The Cabinet has decided the current quota of 10% of companies bidding for provision of Government services should be expanded to include tenders. The same percentage will apply. The Cabinet supported the measure following a review of the memorandum submitted by the Ministerial Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee.
Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister has announced the Franchise and Government Procurement Laws will be issued by the end of August this year. The Shoura Council approved the laws in March. The Franchise Law will govern the relationship between franchisors and franchisees. The Government Procurement Law aims to regulate the procedures related to business and procurement and prevent abuses of power and vested interests.
The Omani Government is considering a new Securities Law to help the securities market grow in the Sultanate. The draft is being reviewed by the Legal Affairs Ministry. It is expected to be approved and discussed by the end of the first quarter of 2020. If approved, there will be a Capital Market Law and a separate Securities Law. It will allow the roll-out of a diverse range of instruments for trading and investment in the securities market which will include derivatives such as swaps, forwards, futures, mortgage-backed securities and options. None of these can be traded in Oman at the moment. Trading in commodity derivatives, currency swaps, interest rate futures, credit default swaps, CFDs and international indices will also be allowed and Trusts will be introduced. They will provide a vehicle to Collective Investment Schemes. It will allow crowdfunding for small and medium enterprises to raise finance for their operations and growth.
The UAE’s Infrastructure Development Minister and Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority has announced amendments to the country’s existing maritime law are being considered. They are aimed at improving maritime operations in the country and encouraging more investment into the sector.
If approved, it will amend Federal Law No. 26/1981 and has been circulated for consultation and feedback. Some of the relevant parties have provided their feedback but feedback from others is pending. The amended law is expected to come into force early next year. Among other things, it will allow those who want to own maritime businesses to own 100% of them and will also introduce a new dispute resolution system. The new dispute resolution centres will report to the Federal Transport Authority. In addition, it will update the maritime lien rules and establish a maritime navigation chamber. They will be responsible for representing private sector interests and a new maritime development fund will also be set up. The chamber will also become a member of the International Chamber of Navigation.
The UAE’s Cabinet has approved revisions to the country’s foreign investment rules which will see 100% foreign ownership allowed in 13 sectors and 122 areas of economic activity in the country. The aim is to encourage more foreign investment into the country and improve the country’s growth. These sectors include renewable energy, space, agriculture and manufacturing. Investors will also be provided with an opportunity to buy various shares in various economic activities including the production of solar panels, power transformers, green technology and hybrid power plants. It also includes transport and storage, to allow investors to own projects in ecommerce transport, supply chain, logistics and cold storage for pharmaceutical products. The governments of the individual Emirates will determine the ownership percentage of foreign investors in these activities.
Oman’s Sultan has issued five Sultani Decrees including a Decree approving the Bankruptcy Law. Oman Sultani Decree No. 53/2019 will be published in the Official Gazette and will come into force one year after its publication in the Gazette. It will repeal Book Five of the Sultanate’s Trade Law and anything else which contradicts or contravenes it will be repealed. The Commerce and Industry Minister will issue the relevant regulations and decisions to implement the law following input from other specialist departments.
Qatar’s Free Zones Authority has announced it is planning to establish a new free zone in Msheireb district in downtown Doha. It will house the new Media City and IT companies. The Media City was established under Qatar Law No. 13/2019. It will be responsible for managing and developing media activities in the country. Microsoft has already got Cabinet approval to establish a global Azure Cloud Computing data centre in the country.
Dubai’s Land Department has announced it has launched a new Real Estate Investment Opportunities initiative. It is aimed at strengthening the Emirate’s competitiveness and attracting new real estate investments. It follows the Innovation Lab 2018 and a special office has been established at the Land Department’s Cube centre to facilitate and unify all related registrations and follow-up procedures. The Department has also approved a set of special privileges relating to real estate registration and terms and a special electronic contact website is going to be established to provide electronic services and respond to all future queries. A law is currently being drafted for real estate investment portfolios which are still under accreditation and review by the relevant parties.
Kuwait’s National Assembly has approved various legislation at their second reading, including an amendment to the country’s Companies Law. The Assembly approved an amendment to the country’s Companies Law, Kuwait Law No. 1/2016 at its second reading. If approved, non-profit organisations will not be able to convert to profitable entities. It will also allow shareholders to assess a company’s position, prohibit the dissolution of a company because of capital loss and allow shareholders and owners to correct a company’s path.
The UAE’s Central Bank has announced it has launched a new anti-money laundering system and is the first GCC country to adopt it. The new system means all financial institutions in the country will have to report any suspicious transactions through goAML. They must register with the system by 27 June. Any transactions over 60,000 AED must be reported. goAML has been developed with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. It aims to step up intelligence, identify complex, organised criminal activities and curb them.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has become the region’s first Financial Action Task Force member. Previously the Kingdom was an observer of the anti-money laundering body and they were one of the only Middle Eastern jurisdictions not to be included in a blacklisting of countries earlier this year. The organisation makes recommendations to governments on combating money laundering and terrorist-financing.