Bahrain’s Shoura Council have approved four laws including a new Providing Cloud Computing Services to Foreign Parties Law. It is aimed at international cloud providers who have shown an interest in establishing in the Kingdom following the launch of Amazon Web Services. The Council also approved a Letters and Electronic Transactions Law which will establish a new framework for associated banking and financing services.
Kuwait’s National Assembly has approved a new Insurance Law in the country at first reading. The changes would be the first to the legislation since 1981. MPs are still debating whether the sector should be regulated by the Central Bank or the Commerce Ministry but have called for a bespoke regulator not to b established. While Kuwait was the first GCC country to regulate its insurance sector they are the last to amend the legislation to reflect sectorial developments.
Saudi Arabia’s Centre for Special Residency Permits is currently working on drafting the Implementing Regulations to the Special Residency Permits Law. The Regulations will include the conditions and procedures for applying for these permits. The Centre will announce details of the Implementing Regulations and how applications from applicants who are already in Saudi Arabia or from abroad will be handled. The aim of the law is to diversify the Saudi economy.
The Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts and Ras al Khaimah Courts have announced they have signed a cooperation agreement to facilitate the reciprocal enforcement of their judgments, decisions and orders and arbitral awards. The agreement was signed for the Global Market Courts by their Chief Justice, Lord Hope of Craighead KT. It was signed for the Ras al Khaimah Courts by their Chairman, HE Ahmed Mohammed Al-Khattari.
Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has approved a draft special residency permits law and has submitted it to the Government to consider. The aim of the law is to provide various benefits to those who hold special residency permits including the right to recruit foreign worker, own property and transport vehicles and obtain visitor permits for family members. There are two types of special residency permit. The first is unlimited while the other is only available for one year but can then be renewed. It is similar to the Green Card system in the US and if approved will mean applicants will not have to have a Saudi sponsor or employer. To be eligible, applicants must have a valid passport with a credit report, a health report and no criminal record.
Oman’s Sultan has issued three Decrees including a Decree establishing the Credit and Financial Information Centre. Under Oman Sultani Decree No. 38/2019, a Credit and Financial Information Centre will be established. It will report into the Sultanate’s Central Bank. It will be independent legally as well as administratively and financially. All of the assets, data and their systems from the Banking Credit Information Statistics Department and the Central Bank will be transferred to the new Centre. The Board of Governors of the Central Bank will issue the regulations and decisions necessary to enforce Oman Sultani Decree No. 38/2019. Until they do, the relevant Central Bank regulations and decisions will continue to be enforced unless it contradicts or contravenes the new Decree.
The Dubai International Financial Centre have announced changes to the Centre’s end of gratuity scheme will come into effect on 1 January 2020. It follows the launching of an informal consultation in March 2019 where the Governor of the DIFC sent a letter to several hundred senior executives on replacing the end of service gratuity system with a new Employee Workplace Savings Trust savings scheme.
Under the changes, employees will contribute funds on an ongoing basis rather than being paid by their employer when they leave. However, the rate will be the same as the current gratuity and employees will be able to make extra contributions if they want to. Employees will also be able to determine if they want to invest in low, medium or high-risk options. When they leave they will receive their contributions and the end of service gratuity acquired to the date of the change. The replacement will only affect new benefits and gratuities. A new law laying out the provisions and requirements in detail will be issued and the scheme will be regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority. The master trust housing the scheme will be based in the DIFC.
However, it is not clear if the amended framework will only apply in the DIFC or will apply across the UAE.
According to sources in Kuwait, the draft Expatriate Remittance Tax Law has been withdrawn. It followed strong Government criticism of the proposed legislation. Amid concerns the Government would have rejected it, MPs withdrew the legislation rather than risk rejection which would have meant 44 MPs would have had to of approved the reconsideration of the legislation in the country’s Parliament.
Bahraini MPs have approved an amendment to the 2001 Non-Bahrainis Ownership of Property and Plots Law which will mean expatriate property investors will not be able to own property in areas which aren’t designated tourism or investment zones. Previously foreigners were able to buy property anywhere in the Kingdom. It follows concerns Bahrainis were being priced out of the market. The Shoura Council will now consider the amendment.
The Chairman of the Standing Child Protection Committee of Dubai’s Health Authority has announced parents must vaccinate their children or risk being charged with negligence. It comes as there is a measles outbreak in the country. The Chairman added children requiring breastfeeding must also be breastfed. In addition, a parent or parents who fail to get a child who has a serious disease adequately treated could be charged with negligence.
Elsewhere in Dubai, the Health Authority’s Dubai Health Insurance Corporation have announced they have issued Directives meaning new-born babies will be able to get health insurance as soon as they are born rather than having to wait.
Directive No. 2/2019 applies to all parties involved in health insurance plans in the Emirate. New-borns will be covered under their mother’s insurance policy for 30 days or up to the annual limit of the mother’s insurance policy. Insurance companies must then issue an individual insurance policy for the child.
Previously insurance companies could implement a waiting period for providing insurance to a new-born which meant if anything happened to them they were uninsured. It comes into force with immediate effect.