Dubai will be among top 5 tourism destinations
Over past few days, Dubai began to reopen tourism facilities such as holiday homes, beaches, hotels etc.
Dubai stays among the top five destinations for most of the people who are looking at their next holiday as restrictions on air travel ease and airlines resume regular flights, said a senior official.
“World tourism has witnessed an unprecedented negative trend, not seen since World War II. These types of shocks are something that have not been planned by tourism sector globally. We need to work hard to bring back confidence to the sector. However, there are positive indicators. We have seen a lot of online travel agency and other travel sites showing that demand for Dubai is very high and we are among the top five cities that people are looking at as their next holiday destination,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Tourism.
“We are definitely ready and prepared for the next stage and are ready to welcome guests.”
He praised the crisis committee for having the highest level of Covid-19 test as well as the best level of healthcare and attention given to travel ecosystem to make sure that right system is in place so that people can enjoy.
Almarri said no date has been announced yet for the opening up the emirate for tourists but the complete reopening of the tourism sector will happen after Covid-19.
Over past few days, Dubai began to reopen tourism facilities such as holiday homes, beaches, hotels etc.
“While areas which are still pending such as spas, pools and kids play areas still need time before they open up,” he said, adding that “Dubai has the highest global standards of safety and security across all stages of travel reopening. There is going to be reopening of markets not just based on when we are ready but also when everybody else is also ready to open their markets,” he added.
While highlighting the trends in aviation industry, he noted that group travel is likely to decline and there will be more individual travellers, especially in places like China and Russia.
Covid-19 an opportunity to reinvent business operations
Organisations need to look beyond the need for survival, and view the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to reinvent their business operations to be more transparent, agile, and effective, experts at the 2020 Remote Workforce Summit said.
Organised and hosted by Khaleej Times, the two-day conference brings together over 500 remote-first leaders and more than 20 handpicked global experts to discuss managing and enabling change across the digital workspace through live interviews, informal chats, and case studies. The virtual conference is brought together with the support of several key sponsors including Automation Anywhere, Nutanix, Blue Prism, Oracle, TeamViewer, Poly, Forcepoint, ITQAN, Tata Communications, Software AG, and Mindware RSA.
Speaking in a panel discussion on what has become the new normal, effective leadership, and trust building, Massimo Falcioni, chief executive officer of Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), UAE, stressed that business leaders need to reinvent their business operations.
“The UAE, and the rest of the region, places a special emphasis on face-to-face meetings as part of trust building, but, now we are facing a new situation, where we are dealing with a reality where this is not the case,” he said. “As leaders, it is up to you to set clear instructions and guidelines on how to proceed.”
His insights were similar to the observations made by Abiy Yeshitla, vice president for the Gulf states, Oracle Corporation, UAE, who said: “The clients we work with value relationships. The culture here revolves around lunch and breakfast meetings, but, as these past few months have shown, the region has adapted very well to the challenges posed by the epidemic.”
Decentralized organisation as a response
Benjamin Ampen, regional managing director for the Mena region at Twitter UAE, highlighted how many orgamisations have had to switch to a decentralized structure as a result of the social distancing measures introduced across the UAE.
“We had already started working as a decentralized organization before the lockdown,” he said. “For us, the focus on employees and their health has always been the priority. The UAE has actually been very fast to adapt to the changes that were brought about during the lockdown. What will remain important, when creating a business model in the future, is for companies to take into account the challenges faced by employees.”
Needs of the young workforce
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO of Novo Cinemas, UAE, said that there have been several success stories that have come out of the ‘work from home’ model.
“We heard from parents who said that they were able to spend more time engaging with their kids, and that this was not possible for them before,” she said. “I think that this is a positive step to the future where we will have to think of it as work-life integration, and not work-life balance.”
“This has also given us the opportunity to focus more on the needs of our young workforce,” she said. “The response that companies have made to the challenges of the pandemic will be scrutinised by the emerging generation of young jobseekers. We know that they actively look at what makes an employer attractive, and this includes working from home models, empathy and support during a crisis, and an understanding of people’s home situation.”
Similarly, Arda Atalay, regional director for the Mena region at LinkedIn, UAE, highlighted the needs of the region’s dynamic workforce. “This pandemic has given us the opportunity to pause and learn. We are an advocate of compassionate leadership, but this does not mean that we have to compromise on being ambitious – they both can go hand in hand.”
Combating coronavirus: UAE businesses seek VAT waiver for a year to stimulate demand
VAT relief will stimulate demand for consumer goods in the country.
Private and family owned businesses in the UAE have requested the government to waive off value-added tax (VAT) for six months to one year in order to help stimulate demand in the economy.
A letter sent by family-owned business groups to Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee have suggested establishing a private-public sector committee, reducing VAT from five per cent to two per cent, eliminating licensing fee, accelerating payment to suppliers and contractors, freezing of 2.5 per cent market fee, 50 per cent reduction in customs fees and water and electricity in order to help them overcome Covid-19 impact.
Rizwan Sajan, chairman and founder of Danube Group, said demand is slow across all the sectors due to job losses and salary cuts, therefore, VAT relief will stimulate demand for consumer goods in the country.
“This, in turn, will help businesses and the overall economy. Importantly, many countries around the world have also offered tax sops to businesses and consumers. Since VAT is the only consumer tax applied here, and waiving off this tax can stimulate demand. We request government to consider it on a priority basis. We are quite confident that this step will expedite the recovery of the UAE economy as country reopens. Moreover, we also requested waiver on utility and telecom charges,” said Sajan.
On Monday, May 11, the UAE’s Ministry of Finance announced that it will not increase VAT after Saudi Arabia tripled it to 15 per cent.
Rajiv Raipancholia, CEO of Orient Exchange, said remittances have dropped by 30 to 40 per cent and there are job losses and reduced salaries due to Coronavirus impact.
“A waiver of VAT till year-end would support the end-consumer in terms of reduced expenses to make ends meet. At the same time, landlords need to give a rent free period of two to four months to retailers otherwise the brick-and-mortar model will face huge challenges of continuity,” said Raipancholia.
Suresh Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), said it is good if the businesses start to do well as a result of these measures because the amount of VAT collection after 6 months will more than offset loss of revenues for the government when business activity picks up.
“It is certainly worthwhile as businesses are operating on thin margins and with social distance in place at workplace, the cost will go up. So any such relief that businesses will get is good. I think six months of VAT waiver is a good period. It will give businesses an opportunity to restart their operations in fulls swing,” he said.
He suggested that sector-specific should be taken that will have better and strong impact on those sectors. “We have been regularly communicating and authorities are also actively participating,” he added.
UAE rules out any change in VAT rate after Saudi hikes it to 15%
In a surprise move on Monday, Saudi Arabia increased VAT threefold to 15 per cent.
The UAE’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) ruled out any plan to hike value-added tax (VAT) following Saudi Arabia’s announcement of a three-fold increase in VAT on Monday.
VAT was introduced in the UAE on January 1, 2018 at five per cent on several goods and services.
Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary of MoF, said the focus is to work with all government entities to assess the priorities for the post-Covid-19 stage. Furthermore, the ministry will reorient the financial resources to prepare for the future and continued growth to ensure the security and safety of the communities.
In a surprise move, Riyadh increased VAT rate from five per cent to 15 per cent and also suspended the cost of living allowance to increase revenues with effect from June 1, 2020.
Sources and industry executive privy to the matter said that contrary to the Saudi move, the UAE was mulling dropping VAT temporarily until the situation surrounding Covid-19 is stabilised and the economy returns back on track.
Also, many European and Asian countries are turning to emergency tax breaks to support their economies against the Covid-19 threat. India, China, Finland, South Africa, Bulgaria, the US and the EU have announced some form of relief for their businesses and consumers in taxes to cope with the virus.
“We at the MoF are studying our financial systems to ensure their readiness to manage the next stage and support all vital sectors. We are devising several programmes and projects to enhance our ability to continue the development process and to put people as our top priority. This is essential to build a secure future and achieve the well-being and stability of our society. The UAE has always been keen to take precautionary measures and launch financial initiatives, which protect the national economy and support various business sectors in the country,” said Al Khoori.
The #UAE has taken exceptional measures to contain the effects of the global #coronavirus #pandemic that has affected even the largest economies, to protect its economy & reduce the economic repercussions of the crisis on the business sector & on various sectors of society.
Analysts told Khaleej Times that increasing VAT would hurt the UAE’s non-oil sectors and also dampen consumer confidence at a time when the governments around the world are trying to stimulate demand to boost economies.
Khatija Haque, head of Mena Research at Emirates NBD, said hiking VAT in the UAE would be counterproductive as the emirate’s budget commitments are not as large as Saudi Arabia’s.
“While we do expect the UAE’s budget deficit to register a significant deficit of around 10 per cent of GDP in 2020, this follows two years of budget surpluses. Raising VAT in the UAE at a time when consumers are already struggling with layoffs and paycuts and businesses have seen demand contract severely would be counterproductive. It would not raise non-oil revenue significantly and further weigh on already weak aggregate demand,” she said.