New Dubai Endowment Law details were discussed at a press conference by the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) which was held in conjunction with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy (MBRGCEC). Under the law, which received Royal approval last month, private individuals, companies and organisations will be allowed to establish their own endowments, whether these are for educational, health, cultural, environmental, arts or sport reasons. Until now, the general practice has been for potential donors to make contributions AMAF in order to support endowment projects managed completely by AMAF, the Dubai endowment regulator. AMAF currently manage over 2.7 billion AED in assets, which include endowments. Under the new law they are mandated to receive all necessary documentation from endowment bodies who wish to be formally registered. AMAF will carry out a careful review of the documentation and issue waqf licenses to the applicants within 10 working days and then submit the licences to MBRGCEC. The MBRGCEC will issue a Dubai Endowment Sign to the body, which will enable them to operate as full-fledged endowment institutions and carry out their work. The Endowment Law Dubai Law No. 14/2017 has come into force. Endowment institutions will be licensed by AMAF, but will enjoy independence in terms of the management of their financial affairs within the framework of the licensing rules and regulations and the prevailing governance system of endowment institutions. AMAF will also monitor these institutions to ensure they achieve their goals and remain committed to this law and preceding laws pertaining to endowments. AMAF, as a regulator, will monitor the revenue and expenditure of endowments, and ensure the money is spent according to the declared and agreed purpose of the endowment. However, it will be possible to legally change the purpose and nature of an endowment over time by following specific procedures. This new law is expected to enhance the MBRGCEC’s role in granting the Dubai Endowment Sign to institutions which are engaged in community work based on the waqf concept. The law mandates institutions which hold the Dubai Endowment Sign to be granted special privileges in areas including government procurements, setting up and selecting contracts. Entrepreneurs are being invited to secure a licence for their waqf institutions so that they can implement community programmes in various fields.
This week the spotlight is on health and insurance developments in the United Arab Emirates, where the Ministry of Health and Prevention is promising new laws will be issued to stop the unauthorised sale of antibiotics, amidst growing fears that their overuse worldwide could create drug-resistant bacteria. As well as creating a new law, the ministry has stated it will work with local health authorities to more closely supervise and inspect pharmacies across the UAE. There is a particular concern about the estimated 2,400 private pharmacies which operate outside hospital networks, where unauthorised dispensing of prescription drugs is most prevalent. The ministry will also seek to make doctors more aware of the need to prescribe antibiotics only when they needed, and to make sure they give accurate doses and the correct strength.
Elsewhere, the Insurance Authority is preparing a new legal framework to regulate reinsurance activities. Experts in the field have stressed on the importance of intervention by the Authority as a means of setting the necessary standards for the sector. It has been said been said by some that there has been a lack of commitment from some companies to risk management and on the calculation of their percentages.
Weekly Spotlight: ADGM announced that businesses registered with them will also be licenced to operate onshore in Abu Dhabi
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in the Abu Dhabi Global Market, where they have announced businesses who register to operate with them will also be licenced to operate onshore in Abu Dhabi. It follows an agreement between the Global Market and Abu Dhabi’s Economic Development Department. Under the agreement, entities established in the Global Market will be able to hold dual licences providing they satisfy and fulfil the requirements of each jurisdiction and operate according to their rules and regulations. Entities with dual licences will not have to be physically present in Abu Dhabi. However financial service firms will still be subject to the relevant regulatory obligations and applicable laws, including any licencing requirements which may be imposed by any Federal financial service regulators.
Elsewhere, the Market’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority has launched a consultation on its proposed Remote Membership Framework plus other miscellaneous amendments aimed at boosting its capital market regime. The consultation ends on 2 January 2018. If approved, brokers from outside the Global Market would be able to access the Market’s exchanges and clearing houses. This would expand international investor participation in the Market, facilitates cross-border flows and increase liquidity for the Market’s capital market.
The UAE’s Federal National Council has approved a draft law to regulate and care for mosques. Under the law, employees must be qualified to work in mosques and anyone who belongs to illegal groups or organisations, practices illegal political or organisational activities or preaches without a licence or approval will not be able to issue fatwas or teach the Holy Quran outside mosques. Anyone who violates the Law will be fined between 20,000 and 50,000 AED and/or jailed for up to three months. Anyone who begs at mosques or interferes with the Imam while they are calling worshippers to prayer or whilst they are preaching will be fined 5,000 AED and or jailed for up to three months.
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.