Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers has approved new power regulations to expand the Saudi Water and Electricity Company’s (WEC) remit. The amendments mean WEC, as the Kingdom’s main water buyer, will be able to purchase desalinated, purified, treated and untreated water. The aim is boost water and electricity distribution in the country.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT) has launched a public consultation on the draft VAT Law
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Zakat and Tax (GAZT) has launched a public consultation on the draft VAT Law, which is going to be introduced in the Kingdom on 1 January 2018. The consultation ends on 29 June 2017. The consultation will allow members of the public and businesses to provide feedback before the final law is sent for final approval. The consultation comes after the Gulf Cooperation Council announced the ratification of the unified framework agreement to introduce VAT.
Qatar’s Shoura Council has approved a draft law determining the qualifications and role of experts, who are often used by the courts, Ministries and Government institutions for their opinion on litigation and disputes. A new Experts Department will be established at the Justice Ministry to regulate their work in courts and different Government departments. Experts will have to register with the Ministry to get accredited and licensed before they can practice. A special committee which will supervise and organise their work will be able to suspend or disqualify them if they are investigating complaints against them. Experts will have to keep all the information they obtain during their work confidential and should not have relationships with any of the disputed parties in the cases they are handling. In addition they cannot be involved in a case if the company they work for is part of the dispute and must always improve their skills in their field of expertise and be up to date with professional developments. Experts in medical science, engineering, finance, banking and real estate, amongst others will be covered by the law.
Qatar’s Cabinet has called for a draft law specifying regulations for economic zones in the country to be issued. The call follows a review by the Council of Ministers of the Advisory Council’s recommendations regarding the law. If approved, the Council of Ministers, following a proposal from the board of directors of the Economic Zones Company (Manateq) will be able to establish one or more economic zones. All types of companies, partnership contracts or other legal entities, owned by one or more natural or legal persons will be able to be established in the zone. It will not matter if they are foreigners or nationals. They will be exempt from having to obtain any other licence, approval, permission or registration in the country. They will also be free to transfer any of their capital, income, profits or investments outside the State without restrictions. The Cabinet has also approved the application of Qatar Decree-Law No 16/2010 on electronic transactions and commerce to real estate transactions and documentation.
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.