The UAE’s Central Bank has announced it has issued new Stored Value Facilities Regulations. They are aimed at ensuring stored value products and services are operated securely, well and efficiently. They are also aimed at giving FinTech companies and other non-bank payment service providers easier access to the local market while safeguarding the customers’ funds, ensuring proper business conduct and supporting the development of payment products and services. The regulation covers licensing, supervision and enforcement provisions which will apply to companies who are licensed to provide Stored Value Facilities services. Affected entities will have a year to comply from when the Regulation comes into force. Those who already have a Stored Value Facilities license under the previous regulatory framework may continue operating. However, they will have to implement all of the relevant measures set out in the new regulation by the end of the transition period.
The Vice Minister for Mining Affairs at Saudi Arabia’s Industry, and Mineral Resources Ministry has announced the Mining Investment Law will come into force next year. It is aimed at revolutionising the Kingdom’s mining sector and boosting its contribution to GDP by more than 240 billion Riyals. It is also aimed at reducing imports by 37 billion Riyals and creating 200,000 jobs by 2030. Under the Law, a mining fund will also be established and will provide sustainable finance for the sector as well as support geological survey and exploration programmes. Experts have valued mineral resources in the Kingdom at five trillion Riyals which the Law is aimed at tapping into. Finally, a National Geological Database has been set up to support the sector. It will provide access to 10,000 mining reports and 80 years of data.
Qatar’s Financial Centre has approved new Representative Office Regulations. The regulations will govern how these offices can be run in Qatar. Financial institutions will be able to carry out a range of activities, including marketing the products and services of its group, carrying out market research or feasibility studies in relation to financial products or financial services on behalf of the head office and serving as a liaison office for its group. They are aimed at helping financial service entities establish in the country and promote their products and services.
Oman’s Government is considering introducing an income tax on the wealthy in the Sultanate. The measure is being considered as the Sultanate tries to address an increasing budget deficit. The Government are also considering reforming public service subsidy schemes, increasing power and water tariffs, strengthening tax compliance and administration, rationalising expenditure and boosting efficiency. They are also considering liberalising visa regimes for tourists and introducing labour reforms.
Bahrain’s King has issued Bahrain Royal Order No. 42/2020, establishing the Financial Disclosures’ Examination Authority. The Authority will be chaired by the Court of Cassation President and Supreme Judicial Council Deputy President. Its panel will consist of the Prosecutor at the Cassation Court, Judge Shaikh Mohammed bin Ali Al Khalifa, High Civil Court Judge, Dr. Riyadh Mohammed Ibrahim Siyadi and High Civil Court Judge, Isa Mohammed Isa Daraj. They will be members for two years. The Authority will start receiving financial disclosure statements to examine them and verify related complaints, in line with the Law and procedures determined by its Implementing Regulations. It will have the same remit as its predecessor which was established by Bahrain Royal Order No. 26/2014.
Abu Dhabi’s Economic Development Department has announced it has issued a foreign direct investment license. It has been issued in line with Federal Decree-Law No. 19/2018 and will enable investors to hold 100% ownership of their businesses in the Emirate. It covers 122 different economic activities in the agricultural, industrial and service sectors.
It targets businesses with total capital of between two and 100 million AED or more. The aim is to encourage more investment into the Emirate, diversify the Emirate’s economy and protect investors.
It will benefit foreign investors and UAE residents, including individuals, legal persons and foreign companies who are engaged in Foreign Direct Investment projects. The license can be applied for through the Department’s Business Centre by submitting the application, obtaining the approval after fulfilling all conditions and completing all the required documents and paying the relevant fees.
It covers agricultural sector activities, like the cultivation of grains, leguminous crops, vegetables, fruits and citrus fruits. Other activities which support crop and livestock production and seed processing for reproduction will also be able to get the license. It covers industrial activities like the manufacturing of food and beverages, Food and Beverage, products, clothing and leather production, wood and cork products and the production of plastics and synthetic rubber in its primary forms, fertilisers, pesticides and other agricultural chemical products. It covers service activities like legal consulting; accounting, auditing and tax advisory services; architectural and engineering activities; medical and dental clinics; veterinary activities; computer programming services; consultancy and research and development activities in science and technology.
The Department added certain activities cannot obtain the license without the approval of the UAE’s Cabinet. Postal and telecommunications services, audio and video media related services, petroleum exploration and production, ground and air transportation services, activities related to investigations, security and military sectors, the manufacturing of weapons, explosives as well as military equipment, devices and clothing, printing and publishing services, banking and finance activities, payment and cash handling systems, commercial agent services; insurance activities, medical retailing like private pharmacies; Haj and Umrah services, employment of labour, servants and recruitment of employees, activities related to poison control centres, blood banks and health quarantines and water, electricity and fisheries services are not covered.
IsDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar and M. Sunil Kaushal, CEO for Africa and Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), signed a Memorandum of Agreement to participate in IsDB’s Restore Track Program aimed to supporting IsDB’s member countries’ private sector through stimulus packages to the economic sectors most impacted by the CoVID19 pandemic.
This agreement leverages on IsDB’s $2Bn “COVID Guarantee Facility” to establish an operational cooperation framework for IsDB and SCB to facilitate financing arrangements to IsDB’s Member Countries.
The COVID pandemic has disrupted international financial channels and put pressure on hard currency inflows to Emerging Markets. This pressure led to considerable limitations of the private sector’s access to financial liquidity. Combined with the loss of income due to reduced demand, the health crisis poses unprecedented challenges to the private sector and especially SMEs.
Through its cooperation with Standard Chartered Bank, IsDB aims to help alleviate some of these pressures by providing blended lines of finance to local banks at competitive prices.
“I am glad to see our, already strong, relationship with Standard Chartered Bank further strengthened with this unique and innovative partnership” stated H.E IsDB’s President, Dr. Bandar Al Hajjar. He also expressed his firm conviction that SCB’s funding expertise added to IsDBG de-risking guarantees will make a lasting impact for IsDB’s Members Countries.
M. Sunil Kaushal expressed his thanks to IsDB for the developing partnership between the two institutions noting that IsDB is the first Bank to sign such agreement with SCB. He also expressed his strong commitment to support IsDB member countries to fight COVID-19.
Both agree that this “out of the box” partnerships between MDBs and the private sector are now necessary to overcome the challenges of our times.
The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is a multilateral development bank (MDB) counting 57 member countries across four continents – touching the lives of 1 in 5 of the world’s population.
IsDB works to improve the lives of those it serves by promoting social and economic development, delivering impact at scale. IsDB is one of the world’s most active MDBs, and global leaders in Islamic Finance, with a AAA rating. Headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, IsDB is a truly global institution with major hubs in Morocco, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Senegal; and gateway offices in Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is a leading international banking group, with a presence in 60 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 85. SCB’s purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through it unique diversity, and heritage; and values are expressed in it brand promise, “Here for good”.
Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges.
Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority has urged businesses to comply with the anti-Coronavirus rules. The call followed the referring of five businesses to the Interior Ministry for non-compliance. The violations included a lack of commitment to safety instructions like taking employee and customers’ temperatures before they entered the entity, failing to wear face-masks and providing sanitisers in designated places. The Authority has issued a detailed guidebook on the measures food, drugs, cosmetic and medical equipment entities have to take to comply with the anti-Coronavirus rules.
Qatar’s Cabinet has reviewed a draft media activities regulation law. If approved, it will regulate the press, publications, publishing, media activities and the arts in the country. The Cabinet also approved a Finance Ministry proposal to determine the value of the bank guarantee for tax warehouses, based on Qatar Law No. 25/2018 on excise tax and its Implementing Regulations. The Regulation defines a tax warehouse as the ‘place where the licensee is allowed to produce, transfer, possess, store, or receive excise goods imported or produced in the state under a tax suspension arrangement’.
Oman: Ministerial Decision amending the regulation for running promotional campaigns based on the Commercial Registry Law
Oman’s Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion Ministry has issued Oman Ministerial Decision No. 184/2020 amending the regulation for running promotional campaigns based on the Commercial Registry Law (Oman Law No. 3/1974). It has also been issued in line with the Trade Law promulgated by Oman Sultani Decree No. 55/1990 and the regulation organising promotional activities issued by Oman Decision No. 239/2013. Under the Decision, shops in commercial centres can hold collective promotional offers, once a year for three days , provided the decision is published in the Official Gazette and comes into force the day after it is published in the Official Gazette.