The UAE’s Federal National Council has approved a draft movable assets law. If approved further, it will repeal Federal Law No. 20/2016 on the Mortgage of Moveable Property to Secure Debt. It will now apply to tangible and intangible assets as well as existing and future assets. In addition, it will cover rights to claim payments on funds deposited with financial institutions and give a right to enforce obligations of counterparties under a contract. Receivables, credit balances with banks and other financial institution, written instruments transferable by delivery or endorsement, including commercial papers like promissory notes, bank certificates and bills of lading, vehicles and equipment will also be covered. Animals, animal products and agricultural crops will be covered by the law as well. However, movable assets which guarantee wage rights, worker benefits, public funds, endowment funds and funds held by diplomats and consulates and international government organisations are not covered by the draft law. ‘Secured obligations’ will be required, which will include all current and future obligations of the debtor or borrower. An upper limit of the amount secured will have to be provided and this threshold will be laid out in subsequent legislation. Under the law, a ‘security interest’ will be enforceable against third-parties and have priority over other debts. The first security interest registered will have priority over later ones. A new Register for Rights Over Movable Assets will be established and the Finance Minister will recommend the assets which should be added to this Register. Anyone who violates the law will be jailed and/or fined 60,000 AED.
Oman’s Manpower Ministry has issued a clarification on reports of pay being cut by 50%. The Ministry was responding to reports in other media saying employers were cutting pay by 50% instead of 30%. The Ministry said the Supreme Anti-Coronavirus Committee has not approved a percentage cut to employee pay once an employee has used up all their paid annual leave. Once the paid annual leave has been used up employers can negotiate reductions in their pay for three months. Any reductions must be accompanied by a reduction in working time.
According to local media reports, Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry has tripled the VAT rate from 5% to 15%. The increased rate will come into effect on 1 July. The cost of living allowance will be withdrawn from 1 June. It comes as the Kingdom’s economy tackles plunging oil prices and Coronavirus. The Finance Minister added some Government projects could be slowed down to help reduce spending. According to sources, this could include a 30 billion Riyal cut in projects related to Vision 2030 in the Kingdom. In a related development, the country’s General Authority of Zakat and Tax have called for nationals and expatriates to report anyone who increases VAT on their goods before then via the call centre on 19993 or the VAT application on smart phones. Anyone who violates this Decision will be prosecuted.
The Dubai International Financial Centre Authority has enacted amendments to the 2018 Real Property Regulations which came into force on 12 November 2018. This was when the Real Property Law, DIFC Law No. 10/2018 was enacted. The amendments come into force today and mean the enforcement and compliance regimes under DIFC Law No. 10/2018 and the Real Property Regulations are brought into line with the DIFC Operating Regulations which came into force on 12 November 2018. This has been done by explicitly categorising all Real Property Law contraventions as offences, providing a mechanism for fines to be enforced and the Decision Making Procedures applied. The Regulations also now identify a separate form of notification for Indirect Interest transfers and provide the Registrar with the power to make default assessments of the Transfer Fee with the onus of evidence reversed.
Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority has announced it has issued a Class License for Wireless Home Area Networks. The license was issued in line with Chapter 3 of Qatar Decree-Law No. 34/2006 (the Telecommunications Law as amended). It covers anyone in this category and they do not have to request this license. This Class License relates to wireless networks which facilitate communication between groups of devices and equipment in or near homes. Among other things, the class license covers clock devices, speakers and home theatre systems. It also covers lighting control systems, doorbell control systems, security cameras and monitoring systems. In addition, it covers window and window blinds systems, cooling, air conditioning and water heating systems in homes, kitchen appliances, metre reading systems.
The UAE Government has announced foreign ownership of maritime businesses in the country are now allowed. It follows the issuing of the positive list which is the official list of the commercial activities in which 100% foreign ownership is allowed. The Maritime Standard Company said all shipping companies and maritime activities operating in the country previously had to have a local partner. However, this requirement is no longer required under the new rules.
Oman’s Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership has approved the Implementing Regulations to the Sultanate’s Public Private Partnership Law. Among other things, the Implementing Regulation specifies how these projects should be carried out. The Authority was established under Oman Sultani Decree No. 54/2019.
The President of Bahrain’s Court of Cassation and Deputy President of the Supreme Judicial Council has announced all Sharia lawsuits will now be able to be filed online, including the issuing of judgments in these cases. It is part of the digitisation of justice in the Kingdom. The country’s Information and e-Government Authority is supporting the programme.
The Abu Dhabi Global Market has announced it has amended its commercial legislation. They have issued new Companies Regulations. The 2020 Regulations repeal the Companies Regulations 2015 (as amended). They have also amended the 2017 Foundations Regulations and 2015 Limited Liability Partnership Regulations. In addition, they have issued amendments to the 2018 Beneficial Ownership and Control Regulations and 2015 Real Property Regulations. Finally, they have issued new Limited Liability Partnership Rules. Among other changes, the requirement to issue paper certificates and licenses electronically has been abolished and the definition of ‘members of the same family’ in the Companies Regulations have been amended. The term Annual Returns has also been amended to Confirmation Statements and the current ban on foreigners owning freehold land in Al Maryah Island has been lifted.
Qatar’s Emir has approved a Cabinet Decision establishing a real estate development committee. Under Qatar Cabinet Decision No. 10/2020, the committee will be chaired by the Municipality and Environment Minister. A representative from the Interior, Finance, Justice, Municipality and Environment, Commerce & Industry, Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministries, Qatar Central Bank, Qatar Financial Markets Authority and Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry will be members. It comes into force on its issued date and will be published in the Official Gazette.