According to local newspaper reports, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister has issued a Ministerial Decision which will allow expatriates to transfer their visit visas to work visas. Under Kuwait Ministerial Decision No. 957/2019, visit visas can be transferred to residence visas for dependents arriving on family or tourist visit visas, domestic helpers, holders of valid residence who do not exceed stay of 6 months outside Kuwait and have to enter with a visit visa, those who enter for work and start procedure to get residency but have to leave for maximum one month and visitors of ministries and public authorities with a Government visit visa. It will cost 3 Dinars to get a visa on arrival, 10 Dinars a person a year to renew residence and 10 Dinars a person a year for dependent residency fees for spouses and children.
The Acting Director of the Legal Department at the Commerce and Industry Ministry has announced Oman Sultani Decree No. 53/2019 promulgating the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law will come into force on 1 July 2020. Under the Law, individuals and institutions who have declared bankruptcy will need to pay their creditors back. The payment will be agreed through a payment restructuring plan. Both parties will have to agree to the plan and it must be ratified by a court. The court’s judgment will have to be published in the Official Gazette and the bankrupt will have to pay it. Traders who make false bankruptcy claims will be fined between 200 and 500 Rials.
Foreign nationals seeking short-term work authorisation in Saudi Arabia are currently unable to obtain a Work Visit Visa, following an unexpected decision by immigration authorities to replace the Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas with a uniform Visit Visa for Business.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ electronic system used by visa sponsors to obtain visa invitation letters continues to allow applicants to choose between Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas. Despite having a visa invitation letter for Work Visit Visas, applicants are issued Visit Visa for Business with the notification ‘not permitted to work’. This appears to be a practice in Saudi consular posts and visa service centres around the world.
Saudi immigration and labour authorities have not issued any formal notification withholding the issuing of Work Visit Visa which, until now, was the only immigration authorisation for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom.
With immediate effect, there is no option available for foreign nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia for short-term work other than the standard Work Visa, which triggers a formal long-term employment relationship with a sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia.
It remains unclear what is permissible and prohibited under the uniform Visit Visa for Business, including whether visitors can conduct hands-on technical activities, or if they are limited to performing ‘light’ business activities only (including meetings). It is also unclear whether Saudi immigration and labour authorities have made any provisions for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom, considering the only authorisation of this kind is no longer available.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved the abolition of the Kafala system which requires some foreign workers to obtain exit visas to leave the country and get approval before changing jobs. Those affected by the visa change include agricultural, casual, domestic and public sector workers. The abolition of no objection certificates will allow employees to change jobs, providing they comply with contractual requirements. The changes will come into effect in January 2020. The Cabinet has also adopted draft minimum wage legislation which if approved will apply to all employees regardless of their nationality.
The Kuwaiti Government is consulting on exempting the wives of GCC nationals from a Citizenship Law which is currently under consideration. If approved, the Law will allow the spouses of Kuwaitis to apply for citizenship if they have been married for 18 years. Currently, they can apply after five years. The draft law has been referred to the Interior and Defence Committee of the country’s National Assembly. The country’s Parliament has already approved the amendment to Article 8 of Kuwait Emiri Decree No. 15/1959 on citizenship which states the wives of Kuwaiti men can obtain citizenship after 18 years of marriage instead of five.
The CEO of Bahrain’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority has urged real estate valuers to apply for a license from the Authority before the 2 November 2019 deadline. The Authority was launched on 1 March 2018 and initially focused on the licensing of developers, off-plan sales developments, real estate brokers and sales agents. In late 2018, the licensing requirements and regulations were extended to property managers and owner association managers. All providers of real estate valuation services have to hold a Authority license by 2 November 2019. All licensed valuers have to attend the English-language Valuation Standards and Regulations course on 20 and 21 November and 24 and 25 November in Arabic. To register licensed valuers should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weekly Spotlight: Draft Cryptoasset Regulations Published by UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority
The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has published draft cryptoasset regulations. Investors, brokers, financial analysts, researchers, media personnel and other interested parties have until 29 October to provide their feedback on them.
The Regulations will encompass all aspects of the crypto assets industry in the UAE ranging from token issuing requirements to trading and safekeeping practices with an emphasis on protecting investor interests to ensure compliance with financial crime prevention measures, cryptoasset sake-keeping standards, information security controls, technology governance practices and conduct of business requirements for all market intermediaries.
Standards and requirements for a wide range of market participants like issuers of securities, investors including qualified investors, custodians, crypto trading platforms, brokers and promoters engaged in crypto asset industry are also covered.
Once they are implemented, market participants will be able to request guidance on specific token issues and regulatory requirements from the Authority as a part of an e-Services System launched by them. The Authority may amend the draft regulations before, on or after this deadline as they are not final.
Dubai’s Deputy Ruler has announced the launch of a virtual and global business license. It will be available to 101 countries and is the region’s first virtual business license. It will allow freelancers and business people across the world access to a regulated ecommerce platform and allow them to work easily with Dubai-based companies and explore new markets and investment opportunities remotely. It is hoped it is will bring more than 100,000 companies to the Emirate in the creative industries, technology and services sectors. Applications can be submitted to www.vccdubai.ae or through VFS Global offices in 11 locations globally.
Dubai Healthcare City-registered companies can now register onshore. They will only be able to register onshore if they have successfully applied for a no-objection certificate from the Dubai Healthcare City Authority-Regulatory and successfully obtained a commercial permit from Dubai’s Economic Development Department. The regulatory changes are part of new regulations developed by the City and the Economic Development Department.
According to local newspaper reports, women will be allowed to join the Saudi army for the first time. The Defence Ministry has approved the change which will allow women to enlist in ranks between private soldier to sergeant. They will be able to enlist in the army, air force, navy, air defences, missile forces and medical services. It follows a move last year to allow women to join the security services including drug combat, prisons and criminal investigations.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft Consumer Protection Law as well as a draft Decision issuing the Implementing Regulations to the Law. If approved, it will replace Qatar Law No. 8/2008. The aim is to update the legislation to ensure it takes account of developments and international best practices. The Cabinet also approved a draft Ministerial Decision issuing the Implementing Regulations to Qatar Law No. 2/2019 on supporting the competitiveness of national products and combating harmful international trade practices. It includes provisions on the organisation of the work of the committee to support competitiveness of national products provided for by law and the organisation of the procedures for filing and deciding on complaints. It also includes provisions on the conditions, controls and procedures for the investigation of harmful practices in international trade and interim and final measures and price undertakings on these practices.