The Deputy Chairman of Oman’s Shoura Council, Mohammed Al Ghassani has suggested Oman is considering plans to allow foreigners to buy property outside of integrated tourism complexes if they meet certain conditions. The aim would be to boost the housing market and the economy. Foreigners can currently only buy property in defined tourism communities.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in the UAE, where the Chairwoman of the Social Affairs, Work, Residents and Human Resources Committee at the Federal Supreme Council, Azza Suliman has announced the most prominent features of the new federal law related to supporting domestic workers. Suliman confirmed the workers will get one day a week holiday and will have the right to keep their official documents like passports. They will also be given daily rest breaks and will be entitled to 30 days leave. Suliman added the committee has proposed a new insurance system against injuries which may be sustained by supporting workers.
Elsewhere, the Chairman of the board of directors of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahd has confirmed the UAE will begin limiting the percentage of dangerous substances used in the assembling of electronic and electoral devices early next year. Fahd added the Council of Ministers has issued a binding Decision related to the supervision of the percentage of dangerous substances in these devices. The Decision requests importers of these devices to consider the new standards which should be followed in the making of these devices. Administrative Decision No. 10/2017 encourages the clean manufacturing and the use of less harmful chemical substances.
Egypt’s Government is considering new social media curbs. If approved, users in the country would have to register with the Government to access social media sites including Twitter and Facebook. If their registration was successful they would receive a login which would be linked to their national ID. Unauthorised use of social media could result in violators being jailed and fined.
The UAE’s Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Metrology has approved new regulations on the commercial and recreational use of drones in the country, including the free zones. The new rules include a surveillance system for detecting unmanned aerial vehicles in the country. The regulations are aimed at establishing a central system to monitor any drone activity in the UAE. Manufacturers will have to use a mandatory serial number. The regulations have been developed with the General Civil Aviation Administration, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Federal Customs Authority, Interior Ministry and Dubai Police General Command.
Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority has announced it will start issuing two types of flexible work permits for expatriates. 2000 flexi-work permits and hospitality work permits will be issued monthly. They will both be valid for two years. The hospitality work permits will be for those working in restaurants, hotels, salons and other professions requiring special medical tests. Those who obtain the flexi-work permits will be issued with a special card featuring the worker’s photo, data, type of permit and its validity period.
The KSA is preparing a new system to enable employees to reduce work hours and salaries for a limited time
Saudi Arabian Labour and Social Development Ministry sources have said the Ministry is preparing a new system to enable employees to reduce work hours and salaries for a limited time under the Job Share Programme. The aim is to avoid Saudi nationals being dismissed when business is slow. To be able to benefit from the programme, employees should be Saudi nationals who work full-time and have done so for at least three months. Participation will be optional. Work hours and pay should not be reduced by more than 50% and an employee’s salary should not be less than 3000 Riyals after the work hours and pay have been reduced. Employees must not join the programme for more than six months at a time. Businesses should not dismiss employees participating in the programme and should allow employees to work in any other business outside their work hours.
UAE: Non-Muslim expatriates will be able to dictate where they want their assets to go when they die
Following a Decision changing the rules governing wills in Abu Dhabi, non-Muslim expatriates will be able to dictate where they want their assets to go when they die. Under the changes, there will be no dispute over a deceased’s possessions and the custody of children. Expatriates will be able to register a will for approximately 500 AED and wills be registered in English rather than Arabic.
The UAE’s Health Minister has issued a Ministerial Decision on declaring death. Ministerial Decision No. 550/2017 covers death resulting from cardiac-respiratory arrest, death from complete loss of brain functions and pediatric brain death guidelines. It was introduced after a national committee made up of all local health authorities prepared the latest Decision together with the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments. There was considered to be an urgent need to enact legislation on the declaration of death to protect hospitals and enable doctors to stop the suffering of brain-dead patients. The Decision aims to reinforce Federal Decree-Law No. 5/2016 and Federal Decree-Law No. 4/2016. It differentiates between declarations of death resulting from cardio-respiratory arrest and death resulting from complete loss of brain functions. This is intended to be a guide for hospitals, especially for those with intensive care units. Brain death is defined as an irreversible cessation of all functions of all parts of the brain. The conditions and exceptions for the declaration of brain death, including proper diagnosis through clinical preliminary examination are laid out.
This week the spotlight is on tax developments in the GCC, where following its ratification by the UAE and in line with the procedural requirements, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ agreement on VAT and selective taxes is now in force. The General Secretariat of the GCC has received the UAE's ratification documents for the two agreements. The two agreements come into effect when the second GCC country submits its ratification documents to the secretariat.
Elsewhere, following its first meeting, the UAE’s Federal Tax Authority has announced a 100% selective tax on tobacco and energy drinks and a 50% tax on soft drinks will be introduced by December 2017. The Finance Minister, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has also said the Tax Procedures Law will be issued and published soon. Meanwhile, the VAT Law is currently being debated by the technical legislative committee and will then be submitted to the Cabinet. The Selective Tax Law will then be discussed by the committee.