Glimpse at UAE’s new business reforms boosting medium to long term recovery

The UAE’s recipe for success: All new business reforms and regulations explained

The global economy has faced a tumultuous year that continues to have lasting effects in 2021. The UAE and specifically Dubai, have shown immense resilience and adapted with the perpetually developing global requirements to stay on the radar for investors and entrepreneurs from around the world. Its pro-business environment along with rapidly changing working regulations have further solidified the city as the new silk road.

Dubai boasts an internationally recognised reputation as a commercial centre, with the government backing it up with world-class infrastructure, free zones, ports, state-of-the-art airports, and cargo hub, amongst others. Here are ways in which its business landscape has drastically changed over the past couple of years to inspire and encourage healthy and sustainable economic growth and is now on its way to setting a new standard worldwide.

  • 100% ownership benefits – This ground-breaking law allows foreign investors full ownership of their onshore businesses for the first time in the young country’s history. The new Commercial Companies Law rolled out earlier this year was hailed by global investors as a game-changer in the region’s economic landscape. This will allow entrepreneurs to reduce overhead company setup costs, facilitate ease of doing business for foreign investors and provide flexibility of operations for any business wishing to operate anywhere in the country. This law nurtures a conducive legislative environment for investment and opens the door to the establishment of more companies by investors of all nationalities.
  • Introduction of new visas – In order to retain exceptional talents and brilliant minds, the country has announced multiple new types of visas. A few of the prominent ones are:
  • Long term Golden Visas – The government implemented a long-term residency visa system that allows foreigners to study, live and work in the country without a national sponsor. They are also granted 100% ownership of their business while on the UAE mainland. The Golden Visa is granted to investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents and researchers in various fields of science and knowledge as well as bright students with promising scientific capabilities who meet the criteria put in place for each group.
  • Remote Work Visa – This one-year visa allows professionals from all over the world to live and work remotely from the UAE under their own sponsorship, even if their companies are based elsewhere.
  • Retirement Visa – Residents and non-residents, both, now have the option of staying in the UAE post-retirement through this visa provided they meet a certain criterion. Applicants must be above 55 years of age and have valid UAE health insurance to be considered eligible for this visa. They must also fulfil one of these three requirements: earn a monthly income of Dh20,000, have Dh1 million in cash savings, or own Dh2m worth of property in Dubai. Investors in a number of sectors will benefit from the introduction of the five-year retirement visa, especially those associated with real estate and domestic consumption as it will help boost the local economy and property market.
  • UAE Citizenship – In 2021, the UAE announced citizenship by investment. It’s a significant departure from the GCC’s policy of rarely issuing citizenship and only providing foreign nationals residency permits and visas. A permanent residency and the ability to own 100% Mainland business by foreign expats was something the investor community was seeking, and with that being granted, the UAE is in for a massive economic boom. UAE passport is one of the strongest in the world that allows visa-free entry into 118 countries. Business owners and investors can now unreservedly expand their business and investment portfolios locally and internationally making Dubai a long-term stay rather than a short-term transient place.
  • Financial regulations – Regulations such as exemption from corporate taxes for a limited time, lack of personal income taxes, the absence of minimum capital for investments and the complete repatriation of profits and capital has made the country a lucrative and promising place for foreign investors and business owners.
  • Amendments in civil law – The UAE cabinet has passed a number of measures aimed at improving and modernising the judicial system’s overall environment. One of the key ones is the reforms on inheritance law which entails that if a person dies in the UAE without a will in place, their estate will be divided as per the applicable law according to their citizenship, regardless of their religion. Also, if there are any bounced cheques in the person’s name, they won’t have any penalty associated. All these flexibilities and conveniences have made Dubai a major draw for the world’s wealthy and those looking to relocate to a more mature and acceptable country.
  • Excellent Covid management – The UAE has become the world’s most vaccinated nation, so far having administered over 16.4 million doses, enough to cover 84.4% of the population. The UAE government is leading the way in restarting business and announced a two-phase recovery plan to rebuild the economy. The biggest economy in the UAE, Dubai, has taken a holistic approach to economic revival. It has made decisions to relieve troubled businesses facing administrative penalties along with providing a stimulus package for the private sector in the first phase. In the next phase, there is a long-term stimulus plan to accelerate the recovery process and encourage investments in certain sectors such as digital commerce to reboot economic growth.
  • In January 2021, the Dubai Government launched an economic stimulus package worth AED 315 million, raising the value of business incentives introduced by the emirate’s government to AED 7.1 Billion to enhance liquidity and reduce the impact of the global economic situation. The UAE has handled the Covid-19 situation with efficiency and effectiveness. It continues to lead the way in health care and serves as a leading example for the Middle East in terms of complete population protection and responsible reopening of the economy.

With the above strategic reforms, the UAE has shown incredible resilience in dealing with the pandemic and reviving the economy in preparation for a robust recovery and instilling confidence in investors. In turn, Dubai has placed increased emphasis on developing future entrepreneurs and the leaders of tomorrow, to further promote business activity and foster the future of the region.

Dubai is already making great strides to further cement its position on the world map and the legacy it has established will last for many years to come. Thus, making it the ideal environment to cultivate a business and for foreign investors to thrive in. Hence, a business set-up partner is quite essential during these times to navigate through this shifting and ever-growing landscape.