UAE – Best place to do Business
The UAE promises immense business opportunities as well as substantial rewards on investment across a diverse field of sectors, experts said at an event on Sunday.
In a knowledge session titled ‘UAE: Land of Opportunities’, organised by MBG Corporate Services along with the BeNeLux and Netherlands Business Council, several experts highlighted various opportunities for European businesses in the country. The session drew the participation of several high-level delegations, government representatives, and officials from various international trade councils who were in Dubai for the Expo 2020 exhibition.
Nienke Gelderloos, Economic Advisor for Expo at the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dubai, started the session with a keynote on the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
“We think that there are plenty of opportunities here in the UAE, and we have taken an umbrella approach in selecting all the companies that will be exhibiting at Expo 2020 Dubai under the theme ‘Uniting Water, Energy and Food’,” she said. “Eight years ago, when the UAE won the bid to host the Expo, we decided on this theme because it was relevant, and it is still relevant today, and will be for the decades to come. Water, energy, and food are vital resources for life on earth, and we need to be smart about how we go about using them.”
“If we are to sustain a growing population of billions, then we really need to change things,” she added. “We think that the sustainable solutions that we are showcasing at the pavilion are smart and the approach that we have taken is to connect businesses and the opportunities that they see. Solar panels on the roof provide the energy to power a water making machine that harvests water from the air – we harvest up to 800 litres of clean water a day – which we then use to grow food such as edible plants on the exterior and oyster mushrooms in the interior of the pavilion’s 18m vertical farm.”
Shailendra Ranjan, director of MBG, in his presentation looked back on the history of the UAE and the strides that it had made since the formation of the union. He noted that the UAE leadership has already developed a vision of how to take the country forward from where it was today under the UAE Centennial 2071, which is based on four key pillars including: a future-focused government; excellent education; a diversified knowledge economy; and a happy and cohesive society.
The UAE Centennial 2071 is a five-decade vision for future generations that includes the development of a national strategy to enhance the country’s reputation and soft power; ensuring diverse sources of government revenue other than oil; investing in advanced technology based education; instilling ethics and values in future generations; increasing productivity of the national economy; and enhancing community cohesion.
“There are several factors that have gone into building the UAE into what it is today,” said Ranjan. “These include a stable political environment; its position as a strategic trade hub; multiple free zones; and business friendly ownership policies. All of these will go a long way in transforming the UAE over the next few years.”
The UAE, despite being a small nation, attracts the largest FDI, not only in the GCC region, but across the Mena region as well, he added. “All of this has led to a flurry of activity across various sectors. The oil and gas sector immediately comes to mind, but beyond this there are other sectors that see a healthy dose of activity such as financial services, e-commerce, hospitality, retail, education, manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare.”
Serious investors, he said, are spoiled for choice when choosing where to invest. One sector that has always proven to be popular with investors is the real estate sector in Dubai. “As of 2020, the UAE’s real estate sector was valued at $101.45 billion. Between 2020 and 2025, the sector is anticipated to grow at a rate of 3.8 per cent per year. The sector has its ups and downs and we know that if there is not a boom in the next two to three years, then there is going to be a boom in the next five to ten years.”
Another sector that promises good returns, he said, is the e-commerce sector, which saw accelerated growth during the lockdowns and the pandemic, as people took to shopping online for all their needs. The UAE’s e-commerce market is expected to grow to $17 billion by 2025. Ranjan predicted that there would be more balance in the sector moving forward as the UAE is a country which enjoys the brick and mortar shopping experience. However, the growth of the population in the country and the surrounding economies would result in steady growth for the sector.
Benefit from VAT refund, FTA tells Expo participants
Dubai – Participants can apply for a refund for expenses in direct connection with Expo 2020.
Official participants in Expo 2020 can claim Value Added Tax (VAT) refund for taxes paid on goods and services connected with Expo 2020 Dubai, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) said on Monday.
In a statement, the FTA said it has facilitated speedy processing of eligible Expo participants’ requests for registration, tax refunds, and prompt response to their inquiries. It has also enabled a direct communication channel with Expo 2020 Dubai to provide full support with advanced tax solutions. The FTA also offers telephone service designed to ease procedures and give priority to the registration of international participants.
Participants can apply for a refund for expenses in direct connection with Expo 2020, for example VAT incurred on the construction, installation, alteration, dismantlement of the exhibition space for the Expo 2020 or VAT incurred on goods and services for the operation, presentation and events within the Expo site as per a Cabinet decision.
“The FTA has been cooperating with all relevant authorities to prepare for a smooth and efficient implementation of the procedures for the refund of Value Added Tax paid on goods and services connected with Expo 2020 Dubai,” explained Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director-general of the FTA.
“The FTA has established a daily direct communication channel with the Expo 2020 Bureau of International Participants to enhance coordination and ensure fast processing of applications from participants in Expo 2020 Dubai, whether in regard to VAT registration requests by the participating countries, or processing of refund requests, as well as promptly responding to their enquiries,” said Al Bustani.
The FTA’s telephone service to facilitate and expedite VAT registration procedures for international participants offers clear instructions and details about the registration requirements, delivered by the FTA Registration Department. Priority is given to VAT registration requests from international Expo participants.
Al Bustani clarified that the FTA had already completed VAT registration processes for several participating countries, and the FTA processes the requests submitted through the electronic system of the VAT refund scheme for goods and services connected with Expo 2020.
“The FTA also processes special VAT refund requests, submitted through the integrated platform office, dedicated to receiving and processing requests by participants not registered for VAT. The integrated platform office will appoint a tax agent to review the special refund requests and forward them to the FTA on firstname.lastname@example.org to be reviewed by FTA experts,” Al Bustani said.
“The FTA is applying the mechanism for the refund of VAT paid on goods and services connected with Expo 2020 Dubai through transparent, accurate and facilitated procedures according to best practices,” he said.
“This comes as part of its contribution to the intensive efforts of all relevant bodies in the UAE to ensure the success of this international event, which began on the 1st of October 2021 with the participation of 192 countries. Expo 2020 Dubai is an important international platform for the UAE as it brings the world together for six months and embodies its vision of international cooperation,” said Al Bustani.
The FTA has issued a comprehensive guide for Expo participants, which addresses five categories of taxes that can be refunded. The first category is VAT incurred by official participants on goods and services in direct connection with the construction, installation, alteration, decoration, and dismantlement of their exhibition space. The second category is the VAT incurred by the official participants on goods and services in direct connection with the works and activities of organizing and operating the official participant’s exhibition space, as well as any presentations and events taking place within the Expo 2020 site.
Indian CAs play key role in supporting the UAE’s banking industry
The UAE’s banking system is one of the robust banking systems in the world and the Indian chartered accountants in Dubai have been playing significant role in strengthening the UAE’s banking industry, said experts at ‘The Banking Summit’ organized by ICAI (Dubai) Chapter.
Sunder Nurani, chairman, ICAI (Dubai) Chapter, reminded the members that as guardians of public trust, the chartered accountants should always ensure that their actions as CFOs, financial controllers, accountants and auditors should support the banking system positively as they are involved extensively compiling and auditing of financial statements — one of the criteria for the credit evaluations by the banks.
Nurani also spoke about the brief history of banking sector in the UAE and how the banking sector has evolved over the years with latest series of bank mergers. He briefly touched upon the recent profitable results published by the major banks which portrays continuous recovery of UAE economy from the pandemic.
The guest of honors, who addressed the chartered accountants in the summit include, Ibrahim Al Mheiri, head of Islamic Banking, Mashreq Bank; Mohamed Al Ali, managing director and head of cash management-advisory and solutions corporate institutional banking, FAB; and Nishant Ranjan, chief executive, GCC operations of Bank of Baroda. The guest speakers, who shared their insights and views include, Dhiraj Kunwar, managing director, business banking, RAK Bank; and Kumar Muthiah, divisional head, ADCB Bank Group.
Ibrahim Al Mheiri shared his experience on how the banking sector has changed over years especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the current trends in banking sector are into investing in the technology and how to improve customer experience.
He emphasised that technology continues to find space in the banking sector resulting in continuous shift in the way banks work. He elaborated that SME sector is the backbone of UAE economy and thus is an important sector for the banks.
Mohamed Al Ali shared how the pandemic transformed the way banking works from traditional mode of physical banking to digital era. He congratulated Chartered Accountants for playing an important role in contributing to the UAE economy.
Nishant Ranjan said the EXPO 2020 has started, it’s more appropriate even for banking sector to replicate the theme of the Expo i.e. opportunity, sustainability and mobility which is espoused by the visionary leaders of UAE. He elaborated how banks are focusing on contactless payment solutions, upgrading the ATMs, introducing new customer engagement channels, finding ways of cost optimisation through paperless transactions by using digital footfalls and leveraging the rise in adoption of fintech and digital payments during this pandemic.
The event was also graced by other senior bankers in UAE such as Dhiraj Kunwar who engrossed the audience by sharing how SME banking is going through a transformation in terms of product, technology and risk management. Kumar Muthiah also graced the occasion and lucidly elaborated on how corporates need to conduct banking business and the importance of how smooth conduct of business can move the Bankers to lend against character than collateral.
Anurag Chaturvedi, vice-chairman, ICAI (Dubai) Chapter, mentioned that banking is critical element in unicorn making and credit with financial institutions developed through diligent business with sound and timely financial decision making. Businesses understanding the compliance requirements from banks to avail finances.
Harikishan Rankawat, secretary, ICAI (Dubai) Chapter, highlighted the importance of getting timely banking support for the SME sector in UAE which will enable this segment to reach the next level.
Dubai Financial Services Authority provides regulatory framework for future of finance
The DIFC is now home to more than 3,200 companies and nearly 28,000 staff, while the DFSA regulates 521 financial services firms
The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) continues to enhance its regulatory framework by focusing on the future of finance.
The DIFC is now the home of more than 3,200 companies and nearly 28,000 staff and within this wider population, the DFSA regulates 521 financial services firms, registers 17 auditors and 108 designated non-financial businesses. The total assets of the financial services firms are approaching $200bn. The pipeline of firms wishing to be regulated by the DFSA continues to grow.
Fadel Al Ali, chairman of the DFSA, said: “We are exploring and adopting innovative solutions to enhance our regulatory role, as part of our digitalisation drive.”
To encourage innovation in the DIFC and protect the market against risks, the DFSA set up the Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) Programme.
This year, 26 companies expressed interest in the programme and 17 of these were asked to submit an application; these are now being reviewed. Applicants include firms wanting to provide payment and money transmission services, wealth management, tokenised payment services, and biometric-enabled financial services.
The DFSA hosts RegTech events focusing on driving compliance through innovation. The most recent event highlighted the importance of this area and saw demonstrations from seven Reg-Tech providers in the area of cyber risk mitigation, data analysis, transaction monitoring, and eKYC. Cyber risk continues to be a concern for businesses across every sector, particularly the financial services industry that is often targeted. To foster a safe environment for firms operating within the DIFC, the DFSA launched the Cyber Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) last year, the first regulator-led platform of its kind in the region, creating an information sharing system for firms in the DIFC. The TIP has over 175 registered members and continues to provide them with information about an average of over 100 new threats per week. Members of TIP also contribute to the platform, sharing their knowledge and expertise. This has been beneficial for the DFSA in terms of strengthening relationships with partners to collaborate on tackling a common threat.