With immediate effect, the UAE’s General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs has tightened the requirements for employment sponsorship transfer between companies located in the same free trade zone. As a result, all foreign nationals must now undergo a medical examination and obtain a new Emirates ID card. They will be issued a new employment residency permit with a validity of up to three years whereas previously, the visa was issued for the remainder of the initial visa’s validity. Transferee’s dependent’s residency permits are unaffected by this change.
Weekly Sportlight: Dafza has announced it is going to launch the region’s first e-commerce free zone
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Dubai, where the Chairman of Dubai’s Airport Freezone Authority (Dafza) has announced it is going to launch the region’s first e-commerce free zone. Dubai CommerCity will be a 2.7-billion AED, 2.1-million square feet joint venture between Dafza and Wasl Asset Management Group. It will be located in the Umm Ramool area and will be strategically placed to be near Dubai’s International Airport. This will provide direct access to e-commerce stakeholders in the MENA region and South Asia. The free zone project will be implemented in two phases. 50% of the project will be completed in both phases. The aim is to accelerate the growth of the e-commerce market in the region, which is expected to reach $20 billion in 2020 in the GCC countries. Over the next five years, e-commerce sector is expected to account for 10% of Dubai’s retail sales. These sales are expected to reach 200 billion AED by the end of this year.
Elsewhere the UAE’s Vice President, Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler has issued a Law regulating inheritance, wills and probate for non-Muslims. It comes into force on its issued date and will be published in the Official Gazette. Dubai Law No. 15/2017 will apply to the wills and assets of non-Muslims based in the Emirate including the DIFC. It creates a clear legal framework for non-Muslims to create wills in line with their wishes. It also outlines clear legal procedures to encourage residents to register their wills and manage their assets in Dubai. It will establish a Non-Muslim Wills and Probate Registry in both the DIFC and Dubai Courts. The heads of these Courts will develop its regulations, policies and procedures. It will specify the legal requirements for wills and probate for non-Muslims as well as the liabilities and obligations of the beneficiaries of wills. In addition it will specify the responsibilities and limitations of will executors as well the regulations governing inheritance and the distribution and management of the estate as well as appeal procedures. Disputes will be adjudicated by the Dubai Courts or DIFC Courts, depending on where the wills are registered. Any non-Muslim will registered at the DIFC or Dubai Courts before this Law will remain valid.
The UAE’s Finance Ministry has announced it is developing the Implementing Regulations to the Federal VAT Decree-Law. The VAT rate on all taxable and exempt goods, exports and services is yet to be announced. The relevant Regulations will be published in the Official Gazette.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in the DIFC, where the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority has launched a consultation on a proposed Common Reporting Standard Law (DIFC Law No. 7/2017) and Common Reporting Standard Regulations. The Consultation ends on 8 November 2017. The proposal follows UAE Federal Cabinet Decision No. 9/2016 where the UAE Federal Government committed to sign the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and the Multilateral Competent Authority on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information. Article 5 of Federal Law No. 8/2004 (the Financial Free Zone Law) states ‘Financial Free Zones shall not do anything which may lead to a contravention of any international agreements to which the [UAE] is or shall be a party’. The DIFC therefore has to introduce the relevant regulatory regime.
Elsewhere, the Authority has launched a consultation on proposed new Trust and Foundation Laws. The consultation ends on 8 November 2017. The Authority is also proposing to establish a Family Business Centre. The Centre would support regional and international family offices who are looking to relocate private wealth and succession planning structures. The laws are aimed at boosting the conventional and Islamic wealth management sector.
Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency together with Abu Dhabi’s Centre of Waste Management has published a Sustainable Construction and Demolition Waste Management in Abu Dhabi Guide. It provides guidance on steps to be taken by companies in the construction sector to reduce the amount of waste they produce on site. It also addresses how they can take responsibility for the collection, segregation, transfer and disposal of their waste. According to Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi, the total amount of waste generated in Abu Dhabi has been growing rapidly in recent years. The official figure for 2016 was about 9.69 million tonnes of solid waste produced or more than 26,000/day.
This week the spotlight is on tax developments in the UAE, where the Implementing Regulations to the Excise Tax Law have been approved. The UAE’s Finance Ministry has published the Implementing Regulations to the Excise Tax Law.
Cabinet Decision No. 37/2017 identifies who is liable to pay tax as someone who conducted the activity (importing, producing or stockpiling excise goods) has not settled the tax, someone in the supply chain, an investor with a financial interest in the supply chain, or the owner of the excise goods. In certain cases, the onus may be on a warehouse keeper to pay the tax, where excise goods have been released from a designated zone and the person responsible for the tax has failed to account for it to the Federal Tax Authority. A stockpiler will not be liable for the tax where they obtain excise goods before the date the Law comes into force if they are ready for release for consumption in the State where the tax has not been paid and not waived or deferred so long as the excise goods are not excess excise goods.
It goes onto clarify the controls and conditions required for applying for tax registration, like the Authority’s right to impose a financial guarantee on someone for tax registration purposes. If a taxable person fails to notify the Authority of their obligation to register for tax, the law allows the Authority to register them with effect from the date the Decree-Law came into force (1 October 2017). A tax period for excise tax will be the calendar month, where the taxable person is expected to submit their tax return no later than the 15th day of the month following the tax period. The Decree-Law says declarations must be filed regularly and tax records be kept in line with a set of requirements, like retaining price lists of excise goods produced, imported or sold and abiding by specific timeframes, limitations and conditions.
They have also issued a Cabinet Decision on excise goods, excise tax rates and how to calculate the excise price. Cabinet Decision No. 38/2017 goes into the specifics of the tax system. It says the agreed rates are 50% for carbonated drinks and 100% for tobacco products and energy drinks. It defines excise price as the higher of the price published by the Authority for the excise good in a standard price list and the designated retail sales price for the excise good, minus the tax included. It goes onto identify the designated retail sales price as the higher of the recommended selling price of the excise good identified, declared and affixed by the importer or producer and the average retail selling price.
UAE: New Federal Law issued on domestic workers to protect them and to regulate their contractual arrangements
The UAE’s President, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued Federal Law No 10/2017 on domestic workers. The Law aims to provide protection to these workers and regulate their contractual arrangements. The Ministry is finalising the Law’s Implementing Regulations and the labour contract models ahead of the law being implemented. It will protect workers in 19 occupations including sailors, guards, parking valet workers, farmers, gardeners, domestic workers, cooks and nannies.
The Chairman of the General Medical Committee of Dubai, Atef Saleh has confirmed new regulations have been issued to regulate sick leave for public sector employees including maternity leave. Under the regulations, employees who need more than one day of sick leave should submit supporting documents. Saleh confirmed the Committee is using guidelines complied by a number of experts which specifies the necessary sick leave for different medical situations.
Weekly Spotlight: DIFC Courts have launched a specialist division for Technology and Construction (TCD)
This week the spotlight is on developments in the DIFC, where the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts have announced they have launched a specialist division for the region’s technology and construction companies to resolve their most complex commercial disputes. The Technology and Construction Division (TCD) draws on specialist judges and industry-specific rules to fast-track dispute resolution in technically complex cases like complicated engineering disputes or claims arising out of fires. Parties anywhere in the world will be able to opt-in to the Courts’ jurisdiction, if both parties agree in writing. Requests to have claims heard by the Division are made as part of the initial filing, with the Courts’ decision based on the written evidence provided. It will be headed by Justice Sir Richard Field.
The UAE’s Standardisation and Metrology Authority has announced it is considering new rules for gold. The rules are expected to be in force by the end of the year. The rules will cover the trade in and stamping of precious stones and metals. The draft rules are being considered following consultation with the relevant parties.