UAE’s liberalisation policy will continue to attract FDI to region: UN
The UAE also received more foreign direct investment in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Emirates was ranked among the world’s top 20 FDI recipient countries
The UAE’s decision to further liberalise its foreign investment regime will continue to attract more foreign direct investment in to the Middle East, according to a new UN report.
“The UAE is further liberalising its foreign investment regime and expanding foreign investors’ access to the domestic economy. This move, combined with continued acquisitions in the oil and gas sector and the implementation of major announced projects in innovative industries is likely to ensure that the country will continue driving FDI to the region,” said World Investment Report 2021 released recently by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The UAE continued to liberalise its FDI regime with the promulgation of the 2020 FDI Decree, which further facilitated foreign investment by extending some of the free zone incentives to the broader economy. The UAE allowed 100 foreign ownership in mainland businesses from June 1, 2021, eliminating the need for a UAE national to hold the majority share.
The UAE also received more foreign direct investment in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Emirates was ranked among the world’s top 20 FDI recipient countries.
According to UNCTAD total FDI inflows into the UAE reached $20 billion in 2020 as compared to $18 billion in 2019, an increase of over 11 per cent. While FDI outflows from the UAE slowed down from $21 billion in 2019 to $19 billion last year.
Natural resources transactions drove investments in the country, primarily Adnoc’s $10 billion sale of a 49 per cent stake in its natural-gas pipelines to a group of six investors including Global Infrastructure Partners, Brookfield Asset Management and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.
The UAE also received investments in other industries. For example, some 53 per cent of FDI to the emirate of Dubai in the first half of 2020 was in medium- and high-tech sectors. A key deal was realised in the pharmaceuticals industry, with CCL Pharmaceuticals (Pakistan) acquiring a majority stake in StratHealth Pharma for an undisclosed sum.
The UAE was recently ranked 15th globally and first in the region in Kearney’s 2021 FDI Confidence Index, emerging more favourite destination for foreign investment than Singapore, Norway, Belgium, Austria, South Korea, Denmark, Brazil and Finland, Ireland and Portugal.
According to UNCTAD FDI flows to Middle East increased by nine per cent to $37 billion in 2020.
A significant rise in M&As – 60 per cent to $21 billion – drove this growth, particularly some key acquisitions in natural resource-related projects in some of the region’s main economies. By contrast, the pandemic combined with low energy prices and commodity prices significantly curtailed greenfield investment projects. The impact was particularly severe in the region’s relatively smaller economies, where the needs for investment are the greatest, the UN report said.
UAE, Austria look to build stronger ties
The UAE and Austria are looking to build on existing ties in the field of healthcare and education, in light of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, experts said at a webinar on Thursday.
Speaking at the ‘Sharaka Experts Talk: Adjusting to “New Normal” in Education and Healthcare sectors in UAE & Austria’, experts highlighted how both countries had risen to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic. The event was presented by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in cooperation with Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce.
Senator Dr. Richard Schenz, president of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce and vice president of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, said that Austria was “hard hit” by the outbreak of Covid-19. “However, thanks to the government’s strict measures and the rapid and long lockdown and national vaccination strategy, and despite the recent alarming rise of the Delta variant, the country has been able to slow down the infection rate and the number of cases which have dropped significantly. Austria has recently started reopening shops, restaurants, museums and easing travel restrictions for tourists coming from various countries.”
The government’s precautionary measures implemented since the start of the pandemic came hand in hand with a set of economic assistance measures and aid packages that were rapidly designed and implemented to support the private sector, he added. “The economy has been doing quite well since we opened. We are a little bit cautious with regards to the autumn season, but I hope that in the meantime, many Austrians are vaccinated so that we can have a smooth autumn.”
Abdulla Sultan Al Owais, chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, noted that the UAE’s healthcare sector performed extremely efficiently during 2020. “The procedures taken by the government at the international and domestic level were amazing. It was a challenging year for all of us in the private and public sector to keep people safe and businesses going as normal.”
Fatema Khalifa Al Muqarrab, director of the International Relations Department, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, highlighted how authorities had reacted to tackle the challenges of the pandemic, especially the response in the healthcare sector.
“The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry mobilised all the resources available to support the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE,” she said, adding that Expo Centre Sharjah, operating under the umbrella of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, was key to the response. The centre responded to the challenge in three stages to meet the needs of the hour.
“The first stage involved using Expo Centre Sharjah as a Covid-19 testing centre where free tests were offered for three weeks to encourage people to test for symptoms,” she said. “The second stage involved turning the space into a field hospital set up by the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The last involved turning the centre into a vaccination centre with over 50 booths ready to administer the vaccine.”
Ibrahim Al Musharrakh, ambassador of United Arab Emirates in Austria, added that the UAE had launched a UAE Volunteers platform to consolidate volunteering efforts nationwide to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. “The platform is a result of the collaboration of various government and semi-government entities, as well as the public and private sector associations, to promote volunteerism across the country and utilize the talent of community members.”
He also explained that the UAE is looking forward to the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnerships with Austria, which will allow both sides to work on possible joint projects in the fields of education, heath, technology, green energy, and the environment.
Dubai is second most popular global city for ‘digital nomads’
In October 2020, Dubai launched an innovative programme that allowed overseas telecommuting professionals to live in the city while continuing to serve their employers in their home country.
Dubai is the second most popular destination in the world for “digital nomads” who prefer to live and work remotely from home, according to a work-from-anywhere index released on Thursday.
While Melbourne topped the list of 75 global cities, Dubai scored impressively due to its game-changing one-year residency permit for remote workers, according to the Work-from-Anywhere Index report from Nestpick.
Other global cities among the top ten most sought-after destinations for work-from-anywhere include Sydney, Tallinn (Eston), London, Tokyo, Singapore; Glasgow, Montreal and Berlin.
The cities have been assessed based on a variety of factors related to working from home, including costs and infrastructure, taxes, freedoms, safety and livability.
“As remote work becomes the new normal for millions of people worldwide, some countries are creating ‘work-from-anywhere’ legislation, opening up the possibility for workers to relocate to cities which appeal best to their lifestyles”, Nestpick said in its report.
In October 2020, Dubai launched an innovative programme that allowed overseas telecommuting professionals to live in the city while continuing to serve their employers in their home country. The move offers remote workers — and their families — the opportunity to relocate, on an annual basis, to one of the world’s leading tourist and business destinations and enjoy a safe and high-quality lifestyle supported by a solid digital infrastructure that offers connectivity.
“Very few countries have enacted legislation designed to attract foreign-employed workers. Instead, they only offer visas to those who take jobs on location, therefore missing the opportunity to bring high-wage earners to their cities without the need to generate new jobs”, said Nestpick.
Omer Kucukdere, founder and CEO of Nestpick, said the global pandemic has caused many people to reassess their personal priorities, revealing the benefits of remote working flexibility and prompting the question ‘is it really possible to work from home, anywhere.’
He said the last year really proved to many companies that remote working is not only a possibility, but actually something that can be beneficial to everyone involved.
“What we saw through our study, however, is that technology and employers have evolved faster than infrastructure, with many legal barriers still in place for migrants who want to bring their work with them”, said Kucukdere.
The Work-from-Anywhere Index also used data in its study to determine which cities are not only the most attractive to foreign workers, but which also have the infrastructure and legislation in place to make it easier for them to find jobs. life and work. The resulting index offers insight into a wide range of factors encompassing cost, infrastructure, legislation, and livability to reveal which cities are best prepared to attract this new breed of residents working from anywhere.
“High income earners are leaving business-oriented cities to live in places that offer better everyday lifestyles, taking their purchasing power with them. This trend will only gain in popularity over time, so we believe that we will see more and more cities adapt to these new working conditions and benefit from the economic boost these workers are injecting into their economies”, Kucukdere said.
New rules for financial institutions to perform due diligence of real estate, precious metal firms
These guidelines are aimed at mitigating the risks as well as effectively implementing anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations
The UAE Central Bank on Tuesday has issued new guidelines for banks and financial institutions which provide services to companies in the real estate and precious metals and stones sectors.
These guidelines are aimed at mitigating the risks as well as effectively implementing anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations.
Under the new guides, all licensed banks and financial institutions are required to perform appropriate customer due diligence and report any suspected behaviour linked to money laundering, financing of terrorism or a criminal offence by submitting suspicious activity reports directly to the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit using the “goAML” portal.
The regulator stressed that licensed financial institutions (LFIs) providing services to real estate and precious metals and stones sectors should specifically assess the associated money laundering and terrorist financing risks and develop an effective AML/CFT programme that encompasses a competent compliance officer and provides training for LFIs’ employees on said risks.
It is important to note that the UAE Ministry of Economy, which issues the relevant guidance, supervises real estate agents, brokers and dealers in precious metals and stones who are qualified as designated non-financial businesses and professions.
Earlier this month, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, and Khaled Mohamed Balama, governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, chaired a meeting which was attended by the CEOs of all onshore financial institutions in the UAE to highlight the UAE’s AML/CFT efforts, with an emphasis on the crucial role played by the private sector in strengthening the UAE’s AML/CFT system.
“A critical part of UAE Central Bank’s mandate is to ensure that all licensed financial institutions have a deep comprehension of their role in mitigating and addressing the risk of illicit activities in the UAE’s financial system. This guidance serves as a key point of reference for those providing services to real estate and precious metals and stones sectors and is set to further increase the efficacy of licensed financial institutions in contributing to the stringent national efforts in the field of AML/CFT,” said Khaled Mohamed Balama.
The newly-released guidance for real estate, precious metals and stones sectors also takes into account the standards and guidance issued by Financial Action Task Force (FATF).