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8 places in UAE you got to be at to welcome 2018

Dazzling fireworks or a spectacular light show? A leisurely cruise on an abra or dancing in one of the most happening parties in the world? If you are in the UAE for New Year’s Eve, you are simply spoilt for choice on how to celebrate.

You could ring in 2018 in the shadow of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, with a record-breaking light show, or you could blast into the new year with fireworks displays in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and even Ras Al Khaimah.

Sale in UAE: 80% discount for 4 days

All the year-end retail traffic is set to get diverted to Sharjah as a first-of-its-kind winter clearance fair opens on Thursday at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Winter Clearance Sale 2017 will bring together leading retailers in the country at a single place to offer the biggest bargains and the finest shopping experience to residents and visitors alike.

Shoppers can expect up to 80 per cent discounts on popular brands of fashion, electronics and home appliances for four days from until to 31st December.

“The pre-VAT sales buzz in the country is sure to give the debut edition of the Winter Clearance Sale the perfect take off. While most of the sales are happening at individual stores, this is probably the first event to bring all the offers at one place, helping consumers to explore and pick the best products at throw-away prices.

On January 1, 2018, a five per cent levy will be applied on most goods and services in the country, prompting retailers to promote big-ticket purchases before the value-added tax comes into effect.

While malls, local markets and general retail stores are using the deadline to boost sales before the tax comes into effect, those are mostly individual efforts and shoppers would need to visit each store to check out the offers. But the Winter Clearance Sale will help shoppers avoid multiple visits to stores and do their markdown maths easily.

Dubai realty still a winner

Dubai remains an attractive market for property investors despite softening rents and sale prices this year as the emirate still offers stable returns on real estate investment, a latest report says.

Property portal Bayut.com’s annual report for 2017 indicated a seven per cent and five per cent average return on investment on apartments and villas, respectively, in Dubai this year.

It identified Dubai Marina as the most sought-after area for both renting and buying apartments this year, while Mirdif and Arabian Ranches led the pack in villa renting and buying, respectively. It noticed Dubai International City as the most affordable popular area for both renting and buying apartments, while Mirdif offered the lowest-priced villas and townhouses in the emirate.

“As more and more off-plan projects are completed in 2018, handed over and put on the secondary market, we can expect prices continuing to attract investors while landlords will have to stay competitive to entice potential tenants,” chief executive of Bayut.com Haider Ali Khan said.

“In the long run, as the market and the broader economy move on a trajectory of diversification and maturity, the opportunity for developers and sellers to capitalise on their investment remains strong,” Khan added.

Atif Rahman, director and partner of Danube Properties, said Dubai is perhaps one of the best real estate markets from an investment perspective, where rental return on investment is one of the highest.

Innovation paints Dubai success story

Dubai – Diversification, openness and ease of doing business have reinforced Dubai’s position in the global economy, which is expected to post 3.5 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) this year, according to the latest report.

Dubai Economic Report 2017, which was approved by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, showed that the emirate’s economy continued to perform well last year by posting 2.9 per cent real GDP growth.

“Dubai was able to achieve growth rates that exceeded that of developed economies despite the decline in oil prices. Growth in 2016 was supported by growth in key economic sectors, such as manufacturing, transport and storage, real estate, finance and insurance, wholesale and retail trade and tourism,” according to the report.

Key economic sectors accounted for 77.2 per cent of Dubai’s GDP of Dh376.8 billion last year as all sectors, excluding the construction sector, achieved positive growth rates. The wholesale and retail trade sector, which also includes the repair of automobiles, accounted for 27.5 per cent of GDP and 22.4 per cent of total employment. In spite of a slowdown in 2016, the sector is expected to spring back to rates close to the overall growth of the Dubai economy.

The report shows that the vitality of Dubai’s economy is due to the strong foundations on which the government is based and the effective policies being adopted to stimulate diverse economic activities, especially in the tourism, air and sea transport and real estate sectors.

It has also helped to strengthen Dubai’s openness and develop partnerships with many countries in the region and the world, attracting companies, investment and tourism from all over the world.

“The journey of comprehensive and sustainable economic development in Dubai revolves around innovation and high productivity. The vitality enjoyed by Dubai’s economy is based on the strength of its foundations,” Shaikh Hamdan said.

The report shows that the prospects for the growth of Dubai’s economy in 2017 is promising. The emirate’s economy is expected to achieve a real growth of 3.2 per cent or higher due to the continued recovery of the global economy in 2017 and improved growth rates in developed, emerging and developing economies.

Strategic initiatives adopted by the government of Dubai during the past years to cover Islamic economy and innovation as well as the Smart City programme and hosting Expo 2020 in addition to the mega projects announced by the government aimed at diversification and sustainability, including major road and transport infrastructure projects estimated at Dh15 billion, will take Dubai past various milestones and other major economies regionally and globally, according to the report.

UAE residents to pay 5% VAT on bottled water

The consumption of bottled water will also be subject to five per cent value-added tax (VAT) from January 1, 2018.

Girish Chand, director, MCA Management Consultants, confirmed that VAT would be levied on bottled water as well as on the electricity and water bills.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) on Wednesday said that with effect from January 1, 2018, the residents’ consumption bills will reflect five per cent VAT in compliance with the Value Added Tax (VAT) Law 8/2017 and its Executive Regulations.

However, VAT is not applicable in respect of housing fee, sewerage fee, and irrigation fee, collected by Dewa on behalf of Dubai Municipality. Knowledge fee and Innovation fee are also exempted from VAT, the utility said on its website.

The Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) in the UAE said VAT would also be levied on the consumers’ bills, especially electricity bills, effective from January 1, 2018.


Dubai redesigns airspace to boost capacity

The Dubai aviation sector marked a new milestone on Sunday by unveiling a designed airspace programme to ensure increased airspace capacity for meeting the predicted major surge in air traffic demand by 2020 and beyond.

The Air Space Restructuring (ARP) project aims at delivering crucial benefits to the aviation sector in the UAE at large by increasing access to all airports within the country, Dubai Air Navigation Services (dans) said.

Dans, the air navigation services provider of Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said ARP ensures the implementation of 90 new air traffic management procedures and the introduction of 150 new way points, in addition to the training of 168 air traffic controllers to guarantee the successful and seamless transition to the new design of a controlled airspace for Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

In a statement, dans said the project deliverables cascade into specific transformational results on an annual basis. These include enabling airlines to save fuel consumption of a total value of $14.6 million, driving CO2 emission reductions of 90,401 metric tonnes, while enhancing air traffic movement capacity to accommodate continuous growth in the controlled airspace for Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

UAE banks ready for challenges

The UAE banking sector’s performance will see a stabilisation as the economy also does so with the recovery in crude prices and strong capitalisation of financial institutions, according to industry analysts.

“We think that 2018 will be marked by a stabilisation of the performance of UAE banks as the economy stabilises. We think that growth will remain muted as economic growth remains below the era where oil prices were at triple-digits/record highs. On asset quality, we are of the view that most of the deterioration would have been already taken into account by the beginning of 2018,” says Mohamed Damak, senior director and global head of Islamic finance at Standard & Poor’s.

Damak believes that the cost of risk will stabilise at a higher level.

“The main sector to watch would be the real estate sector as prices continue their decline although we are far from being in a 2007 scenario as the drop in price was controlled to a large extent,” says Damak.

M.R. Raghu, managing director of Marmore Mena Intelligence, says the performance of the UAE’s banking sector stabilised marginally in 2017 compared to 2016, which can be attributed to growth in the non-oil economy, improved liquidity and stable funding conditions.

However, loan performance is expected to soften modestly in 2018 due to sluggish economic growth in 2017. Also, a moderate increase in non-performing loans can be witnessed as weaker economic growth and public-sector spending in 2017 pressure the finances of borrowers.

Dubai looks forward to strong future

Dubai continues to grow its appeal as an attractive hub for regional and international associations, noted Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Speaking during the inaugural Dubai Association Conference, Buamim noted that the premier event provided an ideal setting for association representatives to engage with public and private sector stakeholders, and to address key issues that are facing the global association community.

“We look forward to building on this progress in the future by using the conference and the Dubai Association Centre platform to attract more associations and international events to Dubai, and promote associations as an integral part of Dubai’s economy and value proposition,” he said.

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, the two-day event attracted over 300 delegates, including associations and industry experts, from 32 countries.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Dubai World Trade Centre, said: “The inaugural Dubai Association Conference marked an important step in Dubai’s journey to becoming a key hub for associations. The combination of international and local speakers provided a rich programme for all delegates and the strong attendance reflected the enthusiasm for knowledge sharing and professional development in this field.”

“Almost 50 associations have already established a presence through the Dubai Association Centre, with many more in the process of setting up or expressing an interest in joining,” he added. “Each of these associations has the potential to work with Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, to bring more major business events to the city and in turn contribute to international visitor growth. With Dubai already ranked as one of the top 10 destinations for international meetings, according to the Union of International Associations, the Dubai Association Centre will play an important role in maintaining the city’s business events momentum.

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