The UAE’s Cabinet has approved revisions to the country’s foreign investment rules which will see 100% foreign ownership allowed in 13 sectors and 122 areas of economic activity in the country. The aim is to encourage more foreign investment into the country and improve the country’s growth. These sectors include renewable energy, space, agriculture and manufacturing. Investors will also be provided with an opportunity to buy various shares in various economic activities including the production of solar panels, power transformers, green technology and hybrid power plants. It also includes transport and storage, to allow investors to own projects in ecommerce transport, supply chain, logistics and cold storage for pharmaceutical products. The governments of the individual Emirates will determine the ownership percentage of foreign investors in these activities.
Oman’s Sultan has issued five Sultani Decrees including a Decree approving the Bankruptcy Law. Oman Sultani Decree No. 53/2019 will be published in the Official Gazette and will come into force one year after its publication in the Gazette. It will repeal Book Five of the Sultanate’s Trade Law and anything else which contradicts or contravenes it will be repealed. The Commerce and Industry Minister will issue the relevant regulations and decisions to implement the law following input from other specialist departments.
Qatar’s Free Zones Authority has announced it is planning to establish a new free zone in Msheireb district in downtown Doha. It will house the new Media City and IT companies. The Media City was established under Qatar Law No. 13/2019. It will be responsible for managing and developing media activities in the country. Microsoft has already got Cabinet approval to establish a global Azure Cloud Computing data centre in the country.
Dubai’s Land Department has announced it has launched a new Real Estate Investment Opportunities initiative. It is aimed at strengthening the Emirate’s competitiveness and attracting new real estate investments. It follows the Innovation Lab 2018 and a special office has been established at the Land Department’s Cube centre to facilitate and unify all related registrations and follow-up procedures. The Department has also approved a set of special privileges relating to real estate registration and terms and a special electronic contact website is going to be established to provide electronic services and respond to all future queries. A law is currently being drafted for real estate investment portfolios which are still under accreditation and review by the relevant parties.
Kuwait’s National Assembly has approved various legislation at their second reading, including an amendment to the country’s Companies Law. The Assembly approved an amendment to the country’s Companies Law, Kuwait Law No. 1/2016 at its second reading. If approved, non-profit organisations will not be able to convert to profitable entities. It will also allow shareholders to assess a company’s position, prohibit the dissolution of a company because of capital loss and allow shareholders and owners to correct a company’s path.
The UAE’s Central Bank has announced it has launched a new anti-money laundering system and is the first GCC country to adopt it. The new system means all financial institutions in the country will have to report any suspicious transactions through goAML. They must register with the system by 27 June. Any transactions over 60,000 AED must be reported. goAML has been developed with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. It aims to step up intelligence, identify complex, organised criminal activities and curb them.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has become the region’s first Financial Action Task Force member. Previously the Kingdom was an observer of the anti-money laundering body and they were one of the only Middle Eastern jurisdictions not to be included in a blacklisting of countries earlier this year. The organisation makes recommendations to governments on combating money laundering and terrorist-financing.
According to Sheikh Mohammed, Prime Minister of the UAE 6,800 investors and residents, worth an estimated 100 billion AED, have been chosen to receive the new golden residency visa. The golden card was initially billed as a permanent residence system but the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has since clarified that it is in fact a long-term 10-year visa. However, as the golden card is a renewable 10-year visa the end result is the same: – permanent residency in the UAE. It has also now been confirmed by the Directorate Chief executives with a salary of 30,000 AED or more can apply for the visa too. These applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and five years of work experience. They must also have a valid UAE employment contract. They must also have health insurance for themselves and their families.
The Qatari Cabinet has approved a draft law which would see the establishment of a new court for investment and trade. A report by the President of the Court of Cassation on the results of the work of the task team mandated to study the mechanisms and requirements for the establishment of the specialised court for investment and trade within the framework of the initiative to develop justice systems and create an attractive environment for investment was reviewed by the Cabinet.
Oman’s Capital Market Authority has announced it has launched a portal for registering potential directors. Interested professionals will need to register on the portal so as companies and shareholders looking to appoint professionals on their boards can visit the portal and view potential candidates who meet their business requirements. Family owned businesses and investment funds have also been urged to register on the portal.
According to local newspaper reports, the Kuwaiti Government has announced it has established a Committee to oversee the reduction of expatriate numbers in the country. The committee consists of representatives from a number of Government agencies and bodies including the Social Affairs and Labour and Interior Ministries and the Public Authority of Manpower. Various measures to ensure a reduction in these numbers have been proposed.