The UAE’s Cabinet has approved the establishment of an Executive Anti-money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Office. The Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) will oversee the implementation of the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy and National Action Plan which are aimed at strengthening the country’s anti-financial crime system. Hamid Al Zaabi has been appointed as the Director-General of the Executive Office. It will report to the Higher Committee overseeing the UAE’s National AML/CFT Strategy which is chaired by the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister.
Saudi Arabia’s Investment Minister has announced Saudisation will not be forced on companies who relocate their headquarters to the Kingdom. They added Saudisation will also not apply to companies who choose to set up in the Kingdom. Their announcement follows last week’s news that certain rules for companies seeking to take advantage of the $3 trillion investment opportunities identified for international investors under the Vision 2030 strategy will be set.
Qatar’s Financial Markets Authority has announced it has issued a new Offering & Listing of Securities on the Financial Markets Rulebook. It will come into force on 1 April 2021. It has been issued as part of the Authority’s regulatory and supervisory role over the country’s capital market. It is aimed at expanding the offering and listing procedures and requirements to more companies. It is also aimed at increasing the transparency and volumes of disclosures, particularly in the main market. Finally, it is aimed at increasing the number of listed companies, share turnover and liquidity and attract more investments into Qatar’s capital market.
The Executive Director of the Authority for Public Services Regulation has announced the new electricity tariff will be applied gradually. They made the announcement in response to rumours it had been rescinded. The January bill includes the approved tariff in line with the regulations published in December. The approved tariff for the first group is 15 baisas, which will be applied gradually over the year starting with 11 baisas in the first month for electricity consumption up to 2,000 kilowatts.The mechanism for the gradual application of the new tariff is the purview of the National Subsidy System Committee.
Five opposition Parliamentarians have submitted a draft foreign aid suspension law. It follows official reports saying the country is heading for an 81 billion Dinar deficit in the next 12 years. If approved all foreign aid, loans and deposits will be suspended for five years. Urgent relief aid for natural catastrophes and pandemics will not be affected. The law would also require the authorities to use all available means to ensure loans given to foreign countries are repaid.
Oman: The Director-General of Disease Control and Surveillance announced a unified Coronavirus health passport will be discussed by GCC health officials next week
The Director-General of Disease Control and Surveillance in Oman has announced a unified Coronavirus health passport will be discussed by GCC health officials next week. Health officials from the GCC countries will discuss it next week. They will also consider travel and movement between GCC countries. It follows the launch of a digital Covid vaccine passport in Bahrain earlier this month. They became one of the first countries in the world to do so. The green COVID-19 Vaccinated shield will be issued to vaccinated people with a username, date of birth, nationality and which vaccine they received. It will help authorities verify the validity of users by scanning a QR code which is linked to a national vaccine register.
The Dubai International Financial Centre has launched a public consultation on proposed amendments to some of its key laws. It will end on 28 March 2021.
The proposed amendments will affect the 2019 Employment Law (DIFC Law No. 2/2019 as amended last year by DIFC Law No. 4/2020), the Employment Regulations, the 2020 Data Protection Law (DIFC Law No. 5/2020), the 2019 Insolvency Law (DIFC Law No. 1/2019) and the Insolvency Regulations.
The amendments have been proposed in light of international best practices and the specific factors relating to the DIFC as well as the need to provide an appropriate regulatory environment for businesses to operate in or from the Centre.
The proposed amendments to the Employment Law are aimed at clarifying the application of limitations periods to claims made under the Employment Law, including claims for deductions to an Employee’s Remuneration, the accrual of vacation leave and the duration of the probationary period for short term fixed-term contracts and certain defined terms used in the Law. In addition, they are aimed at amending the basic workplace health and safety requirements under the Employment Law to account for working from home arrangements.
They are also proposing issuing new Employment Regulations to provide further clarity in relation to the Qualifying Scheme regime to bring it in line with the Dubai Financial Services Authority’s Employee Money Purchase Scheme so only a single layer of regulation is applied to these schemes; and make them fit for purpose from a consumer protection perspective.
KSA: International companies that wish to participate in the Saudi government’s investment opportunities will have to establish regional headquarters in the kingdom from January 2024
International companies that wish to participate in the Saudi government’s investment opportunities will have to establish regional headquarters in the kingdom from January 2024 or they will not win government contracts, the Saudi finance minister has told Reuters. International companies which refuse to move their regional headquarters to Saudi Arabia after this time would continue to have the freedom to work with the private sector in the country. However, some sectors will be exempt and detailed regulations on this area will be issued before the end of 2021. This will affect all the authorities, organisations, and funds of the government from any of its organisations. The aim is also to ensure that the products and services purchased by the government are implemented in the kingdom and with suitable local content.
Qatar: The Qatari cabinet has approved a number of decisions including a template draft memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of combating narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances
The Qatari cabinet has approved a number of decisions including a template draft memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of combating narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their precursors in the field of civil aviation between the government of Qatar and the government of any other country. The cabinet has also approved a draft memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of exchanging financial investigations related to combating money laundering and terrorist financing between the Financial Information Unit in the State of Qatar, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Financial Intelligence Unit in the Republic of the Philippines.
Oman: The Labour Minister has issued a ministerial decision on the Omanisation of certain professions
The Labour Minister has issued a ministerial decision on the Omanisation of certain professions by limiting them to Omani nationals including jobs in the private higher education institutions. The aim is to increase job opportunities for Omani nationals in areas where they are able to be competitive. The decision states that Omani nationals should be appointed in all administrative, financial and other sectors related to admitting and registering students and jobs related to students affairs and services. It was also stressed that the ministry was continuing its search for solutions that boost investment and empowers national manpower.