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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is comprised of 7 emirates namely, Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain and is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). English is commonly spoken in the business world although Arabic remains the official language of the 7 emirates. It is strategically located between Europe, Africa and Asia including direct flights to most of the countries of the 3 continents.
Each emirate is governed by a ruler, who together form the Federal Supreme Council, and one of whom serves as President of the United Arab Emirates. The actual president of the UAE is Emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who is also the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the 70-year-old billionaire Ruler of Dubai, vice-president of the United Arab Emirates and the Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates. In the Middle East, he is renowned for overseeing the transformation of Dubai into a top business and tourism destination. Sheikh Mohammed was very much involved to diversify the economy from oil based to international trade and financial centre, as well as a tourist destination.
Today, more than 95% of the Dubai emirate's gross domestic product is non-oil-based, with tourism contributing 20%.
The UAE has extensive diplomatic and commercial relations with other countries and plays significant role in Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is also one of the founding members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a member of the United Nations.
UAE have an interesting financial and tax environment comprising of approximately 127 Double Taxation Treaties to ensure that businesses and residents avoid double taxation. There is no personal/corporate tax in the UAE in general. Tax is only enforced in respect of corporate entities engaged in the production of oil and gas or the extraction of other natural resources in the UAE and certain petrochemical companies and branches of foreign banks. The UAE does not levy capital gains tax or any form of non-resident corporate income tax. There are also no withholding taxes applicable to royalties, interest or dividends. In 2018, the UAE introduced a Value Added Tax (VAT) at a rate of 5 %.
The UAE has 5 major airports including 2 well known airports namely, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai International Airport which operates 2 different airlines, Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways. Dubai International Airport is the third busiest airport in the world where all major airlines fly into. There are approximately 7,00 weekly flights which are operated by 152 airlines from over 260 destinations. It is also possible to drive into the UAE from Sultanate of Oman and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are also known for their seaports where there are common stops on the routes of large cruise lines. The UAE ports provide modern facilities and fast processing of entry/exit at immigration counters in terms of visa clearance.
Human resources and residency
The total population of the UAE is approximately 9.8 million and is home to over 200 nationalities. Emiratis constitute of only 20 % of the total population. Working in the UAE is a great way to fast forward your career, paving the way for new opportunities and greater responsibility. There are also many expat social groups and clubs, so you will easily be able to make friends and get advice to help you settle in more quickly.
Professional opportunities are vast for skilled expat that want to move to the UAE. Emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are becoming global hub for businesses and always require English speaking employees to enhance their development and technology.
Foreign nationals will need to secure a residency visa to be able to live, work or even just staying in UAE. There are different types of visas in the UAE where the common ones are through Employment Visa, Investor/Partner Visa, Dependent Visa and Retirement Visa. All employer entity in the UAE must ensure its employees are authorised to work in the UAE by applying for a one-to-three-year employment visa.
The UAE has a strong Labour Law and overrides any conflicting contract that are deemed less beneficial to the employee. The UAE has recently introduced new policies to make it much easier for expats and businesses to move there and stay longer term. The UAE has recently announced the new ten-year residence visa for international investors and some professionals including their family members’ visa.
The banking system is flexible due to the numerous local and international banks established in the UAE. The UAE Central Bank is the primary financial regulatory authority in the country. The confidentiality laws are a crucial reason for the success of the banking system in the UAE. There are 23 local and 26 foreign banks in the country.
Banks in UAE continue to digitalize their customer experience, their services and products to facilitate doing business in UAE and also easing life of residents.
UAE Bank Federation (UBF) has been hosting the Middle East Banking Forum since 2013 where senior executives and officials from banks, financial regulators, government entities and law firms meet to discuss the major challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
The major local banks in UAE are First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, Mashreq, Dubai Islamic Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. UAE is also home to some well-known international banks like HSBC, Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of Baroda and Habib Bank AG Zurich. Premier acts as introducer for bank account opening in UAE and overseas. Read More.
Infrastructure and telecommunication
UAE has the most advanced and developed infrastructure in the middle East region from airports, seaports, roads to telecommunication and offices. There are 7 international airports in UAE which is home to 2 major international airlines. The emirate of Dubai in particular has long focused on leveraging aviation to drive economic growth. UAE is expecting to reach 300 million passengers per annum by 2030 with the six largest airports in the country.
UAE has also developed its maritime activity and transportation with its numerous ports facilities to accommodate general cargo, container shipping and the oil and gas industry. Jebel Ali Port located in the country’s western coast is the largest man-made harbour and biggest port in the Middle East.
UAE has also developed its telecommunication sector which contribute around 5.3 % to the GDP. UAE leads the Arab world in terms of network readiness with a global ranking of 26 according to World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2019. UAE is continuing to develop its telecommunication sector in the field of artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and autonomous mobility and drones.
UAE maintains its leading position regionally in infrastructure and telecommunication as per the Global Competitiveness Report 2019 issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The ranking are as follows:
1st in mobile phone subscriptions indicator
2nd in electricity access indicator
2nd in mobile-broadband subscriptions indicator
2nd in mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions indicator
2nd in ICT adoption pillar
4th in fibre internet subscriptions indicator
7th in quality of roads infrastructure indicator
7th in efficiency of air transport services indicator
12th in infrastructure pillar.
International compliance and best practices
The UAE signed the Based Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) on 16 May 2018 and has implemented the Country-by Country Reporting (CbCR). The CbCR rule applies entities which are tax residents in the UAE. The latter has also introduced economic substance requirements to be maintained locally and the requirements applied to mostly companies in the financial services sector like banking and insurance.
The UAE has introduced the Economic Substance Regulation (ESR) in 2019 and is on the White list of OECD. The introduction of these rules has led to enhanced confidence of international investors and financial institutions. Economic substance applies to some categories of companies and business activities. The main criteria to satisfy Economic Substance in UAE are as follows:
Companies need to have someone from senior management to be based in UAE for the running of the business and regular board meeting must be held in UAE. This can be taken care of by a consultant.
Companies must ensure that most of the operation expenses are incurred in the UAE.
Quality of life
United Arab Emirates is a country of good extremes in many ways and is home to some of the most amazing attractions in the world with its largest shopping malls, tallest building and many other things. Expats from every corner of the world are attracted to work and live in the UAE and especially the Emirate of Dubai.
UAE offers the highest quality of life in the Middle East and African Region. Expats are spoiled with the various restaurants, supermarkets and modes of entertainment. Dubai is a rising cosmopolitan almost compared to New York, London and Paris. There is a bundle of five-star hotels and high-profile mall accommodating luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Marks and Spencer.
The residents of UAE are exposed to the traditional Middle East culture and also different religions and languages from all over the world and the highest security. It doesn't matter what time of the day you step out, you can freely walk on the streets of the emirate without the fear of being attacked or robbed. Crime-rate in the emirate is close to non-existent and the police is efficient and fast.
Dubai hosts the tallest building the world which is the Burj Khalifa. The Burj Khalifa lights up the city everyday with different themes together with the Dubai Dancing Fountain. UAE caters for an abundance of entertainments features such as hiking, nature and wildlife, dune bashing, waterparks, rides, etc.
UAE - International Perception
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