Foreign nationals seeking employment in Qatar in select professions, including Project Coordinators and General Supervisors, must now have a degree certificate to support their immigration process, even though it was previously not required. In addition to a degree certificate which must be legalised, the affected individuals must support their application with a transcript and university verification letters attested by Qatari consular post in the country of issue of a document.
Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet has approved a new Tobacco License Regulation which will mean cafes and restaurants in the Kingdom will have to pay up to 100,000 Riyals annually to sell tobacco products in their premises and outside them. It is the latest move to tackle smoking in the Kingdom. The Kingdom has signed up to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which aims to reduce smoking rates from 12.7 to 5% by 2030.
The Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security of Bahrain’s Council of Representatives has announced a draft law to increase the penalties for social media misuse is under consideration. It is part of Government attempts to clampdown on this misuse. Among other things, social media misuse covers defaming someone, insulting someone or spreading rumours.
Abu Dhabi’s Airports Free Zone has announced it has launched an online One Stop Shop to make it easier for prospective businesses to set up in the Zone. Once businesses are registered, they will be able to use the online shop to view their company’s license, lease and employee and financial details. In addition, they will be able to use a company dashboard which will provide access to employment visa-related requests, letter and certificate requests, employment cards and access passes, registration services and licensing services.
Oman’s Secretariat General for Taxation has announced selective tax will be introduced in the Sultanate on 15 June. It will apply to tobacco, pork meat and energy and soft drinks. 50% tax on soft drinks will be levied and 100% on tobacco, pork meat and energy drinks. Manufacturers, importers and those selling these goods in the country will have to pay the tax. By 14 June they will have to have to submit a declaration stipulating they deal with these goods. The tax will have to be paid by 30 June.
The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority has announced tax agents in the country must comply with the five professional standards for tax agents. It follows the publication of a new professional standards guide by the Authority. It provides a detailed explanation of the five standards and conditions tax agents must comply with. These standards are integrity, objectivity, professional competence, confidentiality and professional behaviour. The Authority can strike a tax agent off if they consider it appropriate. They must notify the agent within five working days of their decision and give the reasons. In addition, agents can only practise if they have been approved by the Authority and will be accountable to the Authority.
Dubai’s Ruler and the UAE’s Vice President has announced the launch of a new residency system for expatriates. Under the Golden Card Scheme, residency for qualifying investors, entrepreneurs, those with special talents, researchers and outstanding students will be available. The spouses and children of Golden Card holders will also be able to obtain permanent residency under the scheme.
6800 expatriates from more than 70 countries have already been selected for the scheme. The investors are worth. an estimated 100 billion AED. The new permanent visa will generate foreign investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract top engineers, scientists and students. Exact criteria for the visa are yet to be made public but more details are expected in the coming days.
In the past, foreign residents typically had renewable visas valid for two or three years which were often tied to their employment. However, last year the government announced plans to reform its visa policies.
Oman’s Capital Market Authority has announced it has issued new Takeover and Acquisition Regulations. Oman Decision No. 2/2019 will apply to public joint stock companies listed on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM). It has been published in the Official Gazette.
The rapporteur of the Interior and Defence Committee of Kuwait’s Parliament has announced a draft law, which if approved, will grant citizenship to up to 4,000 people. It has been submitted to Parliament to consider and it is hoped it will be approved before the end of Parliament’s current term. If approved, those looking to benefit from it will have to submit all of the necessary documents and records before they can benefit from the Law.
Bahrain’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority has launched a model contract for use between real estate sellers and brokers. The CEO of the Authority said it is not mandatory to use the model contract and is intended for use as a unified model for mediation contracts, with more items to be added in line with the relevant regulations. The model was prepared following consultation with the relevant parties including real estate brokers and sellers. The Authority is going to prepare more models and guidelines in the coming months, covering other types of real estate transactions.
Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority has amended its Crypto Asset Activities Guidance. The Guidance was first issued in mid-2018 and has since been amended twice. It was the first guidance of its kind when it was published then. The amended Guidance includes key updates on Stablecoins and Fiat Tokens, Custody, Technology Governance and Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions Rules and Guidance.
Stablecoins which are fully backed by fiat currencies (Fiat Tokens) will be treated as a form of digital currency. When they are used as a payment instrument for Money Transmission which is defined under the Global Market’s Financial Services and Markets Regulations 2015, the activity will be licensed and regulated as Providing Money Services. The amended guidance also sets out the Authority’s approach to regulating issuers, custodians and exchanges using Fiat Tokens. The amended guidance provides further clarity on the types of crypto asset custody activities which can be undertaken and sets out the Authority’s expectations in terms of custody governance and operations.
In addition, there are amendments to the technology governance provisions in the guidance. For example, there are changes in the underlying protocol of a crypto asset which results in a fork or coding change, and the associated governance and control expectations for crypto asset exchanges and license holders.
Finally, the guidance has been amended to reflect the latest changes in anti-money laundering and sanctions changes and there is additional clarity on the use of new regulatory and surveillance technologies in this area.