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UAE flights to UK disrupted due to adverse weather

Emirates airline said its flights to and from Europe have been disrupted as heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures cause widespread travel disruption.

In a statement, Emirates said that the operations of Emirates flights are affected due to adverse weather conditions across the UK.

Passengers are advised to contact their travel agency or the local Emirates office – they are also advised to check the status of their flights for the latest information regarding their flights.

“Customers booked to travel from the UK between February 28 and March 3, 2018 can opt to change their flights, and postpone their departure up to seven days later than originally booked,” the airline said on its website.

Some Etihad Airways flights from the UK, Ireland and other European cities are also experiencing delays due to the heavy snow, ice and high winds, which are likely to continue throughout the week.

In a statement issued, an Etihad Spokesperson said, “We are doing all we can to minimise the effect of adverse weather conditions on our flight schedules, and have contingency plans in place, should there be any disruption.”

“We advise the guests holding bookings over the next few days to check the status of their flights at etihad.com/flightstatus or through the Etihad Airways mobile app before proceeding to the airport. Alternatively, the guests can also call the Etihad Airways Global Contact Centre on +971 (0) 2599 0000 (UAE), or their local Contact Centre found at etihad.com/contacts.”

“We apologise for the inconvenience, however the safety and security of our passengers and staff is our top priority at all times”, the spokesperson added.

In the UK, where the weather system has been dubbed “the beast from the east,” the weather office issued an alert for Scotland warning that heavy snow and strong wind would bring widespread damage, disruption and risk to life late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Travellers are being warned that further flights could be cancelled as the weather continues to affect the UK.

The weather caused cancelations at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, and Scottish Premiership soccer matches were canceled Wednesday.

Penalty relief for businesses missing VAT deadline

The Federal Tax Authority on Wednesday exempted businesses and individuals from administrative penalty for non-registration of VAT, and has now asked them to register by April 30.Chairing an FTA meeting, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE’s Minister of Finance, stated that response to the tax system by the business sectors and all segments of society are very satisfactory and there is a steady increase in the tax compliance ratios. Tax experts noted that SMEs, free zone companies and branches of foreign companies will benefit from the FTA’s decision to exempt them from the administrative penalty of Dh20,000 for non-registration of new consumption levy introduced this year. Surandar Jesrani, CEO, Morison MJS Tax Consultancy, noted that entities like free zone companies and branches of foreign companies will benefit as they were expecting some relaxations or exemption from VAT and hence could not register before the given deadline of December 4, 2017. Thomas Vanhee, partner, Aurifer Middle East Tax, believes that the FTA’s announcement concerns mainly smaller businesses. The FTA said 260,000 out of 350,000 expected firms, had registered in January. The FTA’s board also reviewed results of the tourist refund tender as the refund project will cover outlets in the country. Sheikh Hamdan also reviewed the outcome of the tourist refund tender. The integrated refund system will cover outlets and shops in the country. The board urged to complete procedures for implementing the system. The board also reviewed the clarifications and directives issued by the authority regarding the compliance of businesses with taxes and penalties, based on FTA’s jurisdiction in administration, collection and enforcement of taxes under the Federal Decree-Law No. (13) of 2016 on the establishment of the Federal Tax Authority. The Board of Directors examined and evaluated the progress made on existing projects. These include an integrated electronic system of tax administration; the results of the registration for excise tax and VAT; and the plan to increase awareness among business sectors and consumers about the tax system and its mechanisms as well as the rights and responsibilities of all parties concerned.

UAE, Latin America keen to expand trade ties

The UAE and Latin America (LatAm) have strong potential to further expand trade and investment ties in the fields of agriculture, energy, technology and other sectors in order to reach a wider consumer base in Asia, Africa and Americas, top officials said on Tuesday. Speaking at the Global Business Forum Latin America 2018, Juan Carlos Varela, President of Panama, said while Dubai is the centre for the Middle East, Africa and India, Panama plays the same role in Latin America. “We are using Dubai as a gateway to the Middle East, Africa and Asia and want Dubai to use Panama to access the Americas for trade,” Varela said. He said there are a lot of synergies between Dubai and Panama and both can bring the two regions closer to increase trade and investments. He confirmed Panama’s participation in Expo 2020 with a large delegation participating. Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said Expo 2020 would provide an unprecedented opportunity for countries in the Arab world and Latin America to redefine themselves on a global scale. She also pointed out unique advantages and expansion opportunities the UAE can offer Latin American countries, such as its strategic geographical position, strong expertise in smart governance and tourism, support for SMEs as well as expanding cooperation in agriculture sector. Dubai’s non-oil trade with Latin American countries has increased significantly in recent years, amounting to Dh130 billion between 2010 and 2016. The two-day forum will see the participation of 10 heads of states, 84 ministers and dignitaries and more than 160 speakers. Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said more Latin American businesses are looking to leverage Dubai’s position as a trade hub to expand their global footprint. He said the Dubai Chamber had 405 member companies from Latin America in 2017, compared to only 157 companies in 2016, marking a growth rate of 158 per cent. A total of 101 companies were from Brazil, 88 from Panama, 55 from Belize, 50 from Venezuela, 36 from Argentina, 25 from Colombia, 21 from Mexico and 6 from Chile.

Starting a small business in UAE is too costly: FNC member

“New hefty fees” imposed to obtain business licences are only discouraging people from starting their own venture in the UAE, Federal National Council (FNC) heard on Tuesday.

FNC member, Salem Al Shehhi, raised a question to Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, the Minister of Economy about the high costs in obtaining licences to start small businesses.

“One of the challenges that prevents people from engaging in economic activities and businesses, is the rise in the prices of federal fees related to licences.”

“What is the reason for these sudden hike in fees and why should it cost so much for someone to even open-up a small cafeteria?” He asked.

Al Shehhi said the Ministry needs to address the challenges related to the increase in fees, adding that there is a need for a federal umbrella or body to coordinate with local councils.

“This issue should be raised at a higher level with various stakeholders,” he pointed out.

The Minister added there are discrepancies in fees across the emirates.

He stressed that authorities aim to encourage Emiratis to start economic activities and will thus look into decreasing the new fees.

The Council adopted a recommendation on a coordination between various local and federal entities to determine the fees required to issue economic licences, which benefits both merchant and consumer.

After the FNC hearing, Al Shehhi told that more people are now complaining about the high fees imposed on obtaining economic licences.

Expats in Dubai earn more than most of the global cities

Expats in Dubai earn more than any other city in the Mena region and also higher than most of the global cities.

According to the latest HSBC Expat Explorer survey released on Monday, average salary for expats in Dubai is $138,177 (Dh507,110) per annum, ranking the emirate at No.11 among top 30 global cities.

This average is higher than the expats earning in major cities such as Sydney ($134,368), Tokyo ($132,508), Doha ($131,408), Singapore ($117,515), Kuala Lumpur ($117,515), Oslo ($114,538), London ($107,863), Vienna ($103,342) and Istanbul ($100,577) among others.

Mumbai tops with an average expat earning of around $217,165 in India’s commercial capital.

Around 72 per cent of expats claimed in the survey that they have more disposable income here in Dubai than they had back home.

It is not just the personal finance where the emirate is rated higher by the expats. In fact, Dubai has also done exceptionally well for leisure facilities, social life, security, cleanliness and – above all – employments levels for foreigner workers.

The survey results showed that 92 per cent of expatriates are employed which is the second highest level among the top 30 global cities.

“It is not at all surprising to see that Dubai continues to be the destination of choice for job prospects. Dubai has the second highest expat employment levels in the world, with 92 per cent of expats in employment. Of those, 83 per cent are currently in full-time employment. This is a clear testament of the great progress the government has made in creating a diversified economic model,” said Marwan Hadi, head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC, UAE.

The survey is based on the personal income of an individual’s total income received from all sources including wages, salaries or rent before tax deduction.

Surandar Jesrani, CEO, Morison MJS Tax Consultancy, said higher income in Dubai as compared to other cities is mainly due to low tax rates in the emirate.

Saudi inflation up 3% on VAT, gasoline price hike

per cent value-added tax and hiked domestic gasoline prices at the start of the year, official data showed on Sunday.

The figures suggested the new tax and more expensive fuel, part of a government drive to cut a big budget deficit caused by low oil prices, had a large impact on Saudi consumer spending power in some areas last month. Consumer prices rose 3.9 per cent from the previous month in January.

Food and beverage prices jumped 6.7 per cent from a year earlier, restaurants and hotels gained 5.8 per cent, and transport costs soared 10.5 per cent.

However, clothing and footwear prices fell 7.9 per cent from a year earlier, partly because of deep discounting by retailers battling a slow economy, while housing and utility prices rose only 1.3 per cent. Residential rents are exempt from the tax, and the Saudi real estate market has been slumping.

The statistics agency changed the base year for the consumer price index to 2013 from 2007 last month and adjusted the basket of goods and services, making direct comparisons with previous months difficult.

But the new tax and higher gasoline prices clearly pushed up inflation sharply. Annual inflation was just 0.4 per cent in December, according to previously released data using the old basket.

Dubai climbs to 14th in innovation index

Dubai has once again improved its innovation performance, climbing one spot to rank 14th among 30 global cities in the third Dubai Innovation Index, outperforming major business destinations such as Berlin, Madrid, Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

The findings of the latest Index were released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the sidelines of the chamber’s participation in UAE Innovation Month 2018.

Compiled by the Dubai Chamber in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Dubai Innovation Index measures innovation output on a city and industry level and provides analysis on key challenge areas as well as strengths.

The top-performing cities on the latest index were Hong Kong, which climbed two spots to rank first globally, followed by New York, London, Singapore and Seoul. Dubai, along with San Francisco, were the only two cities that showed consistent improvement in their rankings over the last few years.

The latest Dubai Innovation Index Report highlighted considerable headway made by Dubai’s government in adopting long-term innovation strategies, while it has also launched various initiatives to foster innovation across all segments of society and support a knowledge-based economy.

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