Special: Dubai primed to be global business hub
Emirate among best cities equipped for sustained partnerships.
The studies, released on the eve of UN World Cities Day, projected strong, positive and faster growth prospects for the emirate and also rated the city among the world’s top 10 to live in 2021.
While commenting on its city governance and real estate in a post-Covid-19 world, global real estate consultancy JLL said Dubai’s “tight governance arrangements create very strong coordination and clarity around responsibilities, a predictable investment system and the calibre of leadership to drive long-term agenda.”
It said the emirate is quick, capable and productive in responding to opportunities.
“Powers over land use and transport also mean they are far better equipped to enter into sustained partnerships with investors and developers,” it added.
“Business reforms are also supporting the city’s innovation ecosystem. Dubai’s global corridor capability remains stable,” it said.
Professor Greg Clark, author of the reports and global head of future cities and new industries at HSBC, said Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (Menat) is home to bustling cosmopolitan cities with extraordinary histories, and these five in particular are primed to set the standard as future global hubs.
“Their next chapter of growth will depend on how effectively they can work together as a network, and on the individual ability of their economies to drive climate and sustainability-oriented innovation, reinvented trade flows, and the pursuit of human health and happiness,” he said.
“The overarching aim of Dubai’s series of long-term plans is to accelerate the transition towards the innovation economy, more renewable sources of energy and low carbon transport options. A number of more specialised long-term plans support an overarching charter that sets out the government’s vision for the future of Dubai,” HSBC said in its city report.
Resonance Consultancy has also announced the world’s 100 top-performing cities in its annual World’s Best Cities Report, ranking Dubai at sixth, ahead of Singapore, Barcelona, Los Angeles and Madrid.
The study said Dubai’s outdoors clinched the emirate sixth position in overall ranking.
“The city offers outdoor experiences that ranks fifth-most in quality, and it hit the top 10 for both safety and weather, both at No. 8. All the better to chase thrills among Dubai’s plentiful extreme sport offerings. There’s skydiving over the city’s more fanciful developments, the Palm Islands and World Islands. There’s dune bashing in the desert, a high-octane way to experience the environment around the city. And Dubai has even pioneered the sport of sandboarding, which is exactly what it sounds like,” said Chris Fair, president and CEO of Resonance Consultancy.
“Dubai is a city of superlatives: you can ride the elevator to the top of the world’s tallest building for a bird’s-eye view, bet on the ponies at the world’s richest horse race and pose for photos in front of the world’s tallest choreographed fountains. These experiences are not by accident: the city reinvented itself yet again throughout the 2010s, growing from a sterile playground for a handful of ultra-rich Emiratis to an international tourism and business destination. That has helped to attract the second-highest proportion of foreign-born citizens of any city worldwide, and they’re a sharp crowd, ranking No. 16 for Educational Attainment globally,” it added.
FTA to issue tax residency and commercial activities certificates
The authority will begin receiving applications for the issuance of Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates via its e-services portal as of November 14, 2020.
The FTA explained that there are two categories of tax certificates which are issued to companies and individuals. The first category is for the ‘Tax Residency Certificate’, a certificate issued by the FTA upon request to enable applicants to benefit from Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) signed between UAE and other countries.
The second is the Commercial Activities Certificate which is a certificate issued by the FTA to enable applicants to refund VAT paid in advance outside the UAE, whether or not DTAAs are applicable.
The authority emphasized that the new service provides advantages and ease for the issuance of certificates to those registered with the tax system, as all their data is available in the FTA database so they can apply for Tax Certificates through direct and quick digital procedures.
Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director-general of the FTA, confirmed that this step is part of an ongoing cooperation between the FTA and the Ministry of Finance as a strategic partner to the authority, noting that a joint working group from both entities have made the necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth transfer for the digital issuance of Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates from the ministry to the authority.
“Both Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certifi-cates allow investors in the UAE, including companies and individuals, to benefit from double taxation avoidance agreements to which the State is a party, with the aim of preventing duplication, in addition to recovering VAT imposed on Emirati businesses in various countries in the event they were registered with the Authority,” Khalid Al Bustani said.
The authority clarified that eligible individuals can easily issue Tax Residency and Commercial Activities Certificates through a simple registration process via the Federal Tax Authority’s official website. The process is completed by submitting the required supporting documents and paying the fees specified in the UAE Cabinet Decision No. 65 for 2020. These specified fees were set as a requirement to apply for the Tax Residency Certificate, as an application is reviewed for any normal or legal person that is not registered with the authority and providing a print copy of the digital Tax Residence Certificate.
The Cabinet Decision also set the fees required to apply for a Commercial Activi-ties Certificate for businesses registered with the Authority, and to review the ap-plication and issue a digital Commercial Activities Certificate and to provide a print copy for the certificate that was issued.
Investors find UAE more attractive than US, Europe
Investors prioritise yield in their portfolios with 61 per cent aiming to get more yield in the next six months.
According to a new Investor Sentiment study by UBS, while 87 per cent of investors in the UAE consider adjustments to their portfolios prior to the US election, globally only 72 per cent of investors are pondering such a shift.
Among those surveyed, 83 per cent consider the UAE as an attractive region for investment opportunities followed by the US (68 per cent) and Europe (68 per cent).
Most respondents based in the UAE would consider investing in 5G networks, hedge funds and a green recovery over the next six months
While 78 of UAE investors plan to make further changes based on the result, 68 per cent are optimistic about their region’s stocks on a short-term basis over the next six months, the survey results suggest.
The survey has polled more than 4,000 investors and business owners across 14 markets globally.
Investors prioritise yield in their portfolios with 61 per cent aiming to get more yield in the next six months and 30 per cent looking to reduce the level of risk in their portfolio.
Tom Naratil, president of UBS Americas and co-president of UBS Global Wealth Management, said in the pandemic that clients needed advice more than ever, and the ongoing market volatility and political uncertainty reinforced that need. This survey reiterates that investors are looking for advice, and the US election is a unique opportunity for wealth managers to reach out to their clients and provide them with guidance during an uncertain time.”
Iqbal Khan, co-president of UBS Global Wealth Management, said amid uncertainty over the US election and Covid-19, investors appear to be more positive on their own region than on the world at large. In the period surrounding the election, we believe they should diversify globally and avoid falling prey to their own home bias.”
“The US elections are a global event with repercussions across the globe, including in the Middle East. UAE investors are watching closely and the vast majority consider portfolio changes both ahead and after the elections, depending on results. Clearly there is strong demand for investment advice,” said Ali Janoudi, head of Middle East and Africa at UBS Global Wealth Management.
Globally, 66 per cent of investors are considering allocations to the healthcare sector over the next six months, while 62 per cent are considering 5G networks and 56 per cent are considering investments in a green recovery.
Economic drivers, start your engines
UAE identifies several key sectors that will significantly help drive economy of the future.
The UAE has identified tourism, entrepreneurship, SMEs, startups, retail, the digital economy, e-commerce, food security, Fourth Industrial Revolution tech and space as industries that will significantly contribute and drive the economy of the future, Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touq Al Mari said.
“Furthermore, we are committed to attract creative minds and innovators so they can benefit from the UAE’s potential to serve as an incubator for creative, talented professionals and change-makers,” Al Mari said in his opening speech on the first day of the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM).
The three-day AIM 2020 digital event will see dozens of high-level officials from the public and private sector addressing the forum.
The minister added that the UAE will maintain the principles of openness and liberalisation of trade and facilitating the movement of goods and services.
“The UAE enjoys a prominent position on global trade and the investment map, supported by its economic and trade policies that promote openness, agility, business facilitation and links with foreign markets. Our commercial and logistics sector are also second to none, complemented by first-degree soft infrastructure and legislative and digital frameworks that will ensure that the UAE will maintain its future positions as a global trade and investment hub,” he added.
Highlighting the country’s achievements, Al Mari said the UAE is one of the world’s top 20 economies for attracting foreign direct investment. Euromonitor has ranked the UAE as the third most resilient economy in 2020 post-Covid-19. Similarly, IMD World rated the UAE as ninth most competitive country based on economic performance, government and business efficiency and infrastructure.
“These high global rankings show that the UAE is a solid and resilient nation, which is at the forefront of economic transformation and sustainability,” he added.
The minister stressed that the UAE will actively contribute in the development of international trade and support a multilateral trading system.
“Our future plans in foreign investment for the next 50 years is to make the UAE a global investment hub, taking first place in flow of foreign investment. Our economic diversification will create investment opportunities in research and development, innovation, advanced technologies, communication, blockchain, robotics, genetics and many other sectors. The UAE aims to lead in the supply of financial and logistics services to support the flow of investment to our close regions the GCC, Asia and Africa,” said Al Mari.
Speaking at the AIM 2020, Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said small and medium enterprises are significant contributors to the global economy, representing 90 per cent of businesses and over 50 per cent of employment worldwide.
“In the UAE, SMEs are backbone of the economy, contributing almost 50 per cent to the GDP. It is estimated that by 2030, the increasing global workforce will require 600 million jobs, making the expansion of SMEs a top priority for governments worldwide. Despite great contribution, SMEs are the ones who are greatly exposed to the pandemic because of their vulnerability to disruption,” said Dr Al Falasi.
“It is essential for SMEs to be given opportunities to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic and be provided with a conducive environment that empowers them to have the capability to support growth and succeed. We must enhance the ability of entrepreneurs to surpass challenges caused by this pandemic.”