Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers has approved new power regulations to expand the Saudi Water and Electricity Company’s (WEC) remit. The amendments mean WEC, as the Kingdom’s main water buyer, will be able to purchase desalinated, purified, treated and untreated water. The aim is boost water and electricity distribution in the country.
Lebanon’s Environment Minister, has announced new hunting regulations are on the way. Hunting any animal was banned in the country in 1994. New legislation was agreed in 2004 but has never been enforced. Prospective hunters will have to pass physical and mental health exams. In addition they will have to pass reading and practical exams on hunting laws, before receiving a license. They will have to be able to identify bird species which can be hunted as well as annual hunting quotas. Those who cannot read or write will be able to take an oral exam. Hunting will also now be limited to certain areas and hunting in nature reserves will be banned. This year’s official hunting season will run from September 2017 to January 2018.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft VAT Law and its Executive Regulations. The Cabinet also approved a draft income tax law and its draft executive regulation. If approved further, the amendments will replace Qatar Law No. 21/2009 and Qatar Law No. 17/2014. In addition, a draft Ministerial Decision issuing the Executive Regulations to the selective tax law were approved. It include provisions on tax entitlement, declarations of loss or damage of selective goods, inspection of damaged goods, registration, tax declaration, rules of payment of tax for locally produced goods, maintenance of accounting systems, accounting records and control and inspection rules.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan has announced a new Ministerial Decision amending the Executive Regulations to the Federal Traffic Law has been published in the Official Gazette. Under the new rules, driving licences issued for the first time will be valid for two years, while renewed licences will be valid for 10 years for citizens and five years for expatriates. Expatriates will also need to have a valid residence permit to renew licences. The new rules also cover registration and licensing rules, stopping distance rules, driving in residential areas, who can sit in the front of a car and traffic routes for buses.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Dubai, where the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has signed an agreement with Dubai Economy to allow companies operating in the DIFC to obtain operating licences onshore in Dubai. Under the agreement, a central database will be established to allow data exchange between the bodies to improve oversight of commercial activities in the DIFC. Joint inspections will also ensure better compliance, fraud prevention and consumer protection. The agreement was signed for the DIFC by its Governor, Essa Kazim and for Dubai Economy by its Director-General, Sami Al Qamzi.
Elsewhere, Dubai’s Ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has issued a maternity and childcare leave Decree for female employees of the Dubai Government. It came into effect on 1 March and has been published in the Official Gazette. The aim is to promote a better work-life balance, support working women’s rights and enhance gender balance. The Decree will apply retroactively to current maternity leave and nursing breaks of Dubai Government female employees. Any full-time or part-time employee in a permanent position will be entitled to 90 days’ maternity leave from the delivery date. Employees can also apply to start their maternity leave 30 days before their due date on the condition the leave is taken continuously. Employees can also combine maternity leave, regular annual leave and leave without pay, for up to 120 days. An employee who has suffered a miscarriage before the 24th week of pregnancy is entitled to sick leave based on an approved medical report. If the employee had a stillbirth or a miscarriage after the 24th week, she is entitled to 60 days of maternity leave after providing an approved medical report. An employee who gives birth to a child with a disability is entitled to childcare leave for one year, which can be renewed for up to three years based on an approved medical report and approval from the relevant senior official in the Government entity. During the maternity leave and childcare leave, the employee will only receive her basic monthly salary. Weekends and official holidays will be considered part of the maternity leave and childcare leave.
Dubai Government entities must establish a nursery for employees’ children under four if the total number of children of all female employees in the entity is more than 20. If the total number of children is less than 20, two or more Government entities can jointly establish a nursery. Government entities may also contract nurseries close to their headquarters if the entity does not have adequate space for a nursery.
The UAE’s Cabinet is considering a new Public Health Law, which if approved will upgrade occupational safety management systems, especially for workplace injuries. It will also ensure good health and safety standards are laid out for all employees. Article 22 of the Law focuses on health and safety, including preventive treatments to improve employees’ health.
Saudi Arabia has announced citizens and expatriates will only be allowed to own two prepaid SIM cards
Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission has announced citizens and expatriates will only be allowed to own two prepaid SIM cards. The announcement follows concerns over terrorist attacks in the country and the regulator hopes the restriction is temporary. The limit applies to voice and data lines in the Kingdom.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Qatar, where the country’s Cabinet has approved a draft corporate bankruptcy and prevention law following a proposal from the Economy and Commerce Ministry. If approved, the law will provide a detailed regulatory framework for corporate bankruptcy and prevention in line with international standards. The aim is to improve the country’s investment environment.
The Cabinet also approved amendments to the country’s 2006 Competition Law and draft Executive Regulations to accompany it. If approved, the amendments will repeal and replace Qatar Law No. 19/2006. The aim is to bring Qatar’s legislative framework in line with developments in this area.
The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority will disclose the names of those who violate its provisions
The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has announced it will disclose the names of those who violate its provisions in line with Securities and Commodities Authority Decision No 30/2016. The aim is to protect investors and enhance the principles of sound and fair practices. It is also aimed at improving the efficiency of UAE capital markets. The Securities and Commodities Authority will investigate any alleged violations before publishing their details. If a violation has occurred, the Authority will publish the names and job titles of violators along with the type of infringement(s) and the penalty imposed on its website. Violators will be able to appeal an infringement decision. During this time their details will not be published.
This week the spotlight is on immigration developments across the GCC. According to local media reports in Kuwait, a cap on expatriates is being considered by the country’s population committee. Expatriates account for two thirds of the country’s total 4.4 million population. The Committee has also recommended the number of visas allotted to citizens to hire domestic workers is reduced by up to 50% and the number of visas allotted for security companies with Government contracts is reduced by approximately 25%. The Committee has gone on to recommend a time limit of about 10 to 20 years is set for expatriates in certain employment categories to stay in the country. After this period, they will have to leave and will not have right to return. The Committee has proposed the number of visas anyone living in the country can apply for annually is reduced. This will be done together with the General Information Systems Department at the Interior Ministry. Finally the Committee has called for a law to double fines for breaching residency rules and a law to punish anyone who helps or incites any expatriate worker to escape from their sponsors to be introduced.
Meanwhile in Qatar, the work visa rules for expatriate employees have been amended. However the rules for obtaining family visas and residency permits for spouses and children remain unchanged. To get a family visa, private sector employees will have to earn between 7,000 and 10,000 Riyals each month. They will also need to provide a certified marriage document, their salary certificate and bank statements for six months. Government employees will only have to provide their salary certificate. All applicants will receive a text message advising them of the application outcome. Under the new rules, employers will have to get approval for work visas from the Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry first. They will then have to apply to the Interior Ministry. Employers will be able to get visa approval without providing names and when they sign the employment contract with the worker they will need to present a passport copy, the employment contract and the Ministry’s approval to get the employee’s entry visa.