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UAE women ‘press for progress

Women today play various crucial roles across different sectors in the UAE, and their contributions have helped to inspire the next generation of leaders, experts have noted.

“There is an increasing global role for women in terms of social, economic, legislative, and community change, and in order to maintain this progress, we must all inspire and nurture the girls of today to become the leading women of tomorrow,” Shaikha Abdulaziz Al Shamsi, manager of Sharjah Girl Guides, told on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Similarly, Sheikha Aisha Khalid Al Qassimi, director of Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, stressed that investment in youth is crucial to progress. “Previous and current generations of women have helped to bring parity to many aspects of life, and we have a responsibility to ensure that we maintain that growth with a generation of women who are innovative, confident leaders. Emirati women have raised their expectations of their place in society and for that we can thank the continuous support of our great leaders.”

Khawla Al Serkal, director general of Sharjah Ladies Club, noted that International Women’s Day is not only a celebration of the giant strides women have made in the past, but it is also a vision of the global steps they will take in the future. “As women play an increasing role in the direction of the worldwide community, it is essential that they are given the tools and support to continue that progress. At Sharjah Ladies Club, we provide a full calendar of events to encourage that, whether it relates to the arts and culture, young entrepreneur workshops or charitable activities. Our overriding aim is to give women the opportunity to enrich their lives and realise their goals.”

Reem BinKaram, director of Nama Women Advancement Establishment, said that the UAE’s achievements are perhaps best typified in the evolution and growing prominence of Emirati women as partners and contributors in the nation-building process. Women, who according to the 2005 census, account for almost half the country’s population, are at the forefront of the country’s workforce, both in the government sector as well as in the private sector.

“Aided by our wise leadership’s commitment to empower women and provide them with equal opportunities, the status of women has flourished in tandem with the country’s growth since 1971,” BinKaram said. “This is evident across the UAE as women today constitute a vital part of the workforce and are significant contributors to government, economy, education and culture. With the way things are in the UAE, we expect that women will continue make significant contributions to business and the economy, and continue to be a shining example of how women, if given the right opportunities, will always lead the way.”

She also highlighted how the UAE is steadily developing a generation of Emirati women, who will help drive the country’s future innovation-led economy. At more than 50 per cent, the representation of Emirati women in STEM programmes at UAE universities already exceeds international averages, she said. Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qassimi, director of FUNN and SICFF, also shed light on the media’s role in advancing women in their careers and status, and recognising the vast talent that is available in the country.

“However, this is not just a victory in its own right, the media is one of the world’s most important and effective ways of influencing communities and decision-makers,” she said. “The result is empowerment and ultimately entitlement for women to be involved in all levels of society, including their right to determine their own direction in contributing to progress. The greater participation of women in the media, the brighter the future for women worldwide.” –

14 billionaires in UAE own dh171 billion in wealth

The number of Emirati billionaires grew to 7 in 2018 as compared to 5 last year, which is the highest in the Arab world, reveals Forbes’ annual list of billionaires released on Tuesday.

Headed by Abdullah Ahmad Al Ghurair, the founder of Mashreqbank, with $5.9 billion worth of assets, the wealth of Emirati billionaires totalled $24 billion (Dh88 billion) as on March 6, 2018.

In total, 14 UAE billionaires – including 7 expatriates – own Dh171.3 billion worth of assets.

Al Ghurair’s holding company has interests in food, construction and real estate. In 2015, Al Ghurair pledged one-third of his assets to a foundation that invests in education programmes.

Among others, Majid Al Futtaim and family, whose assets include malls, hotels and a franchise for hypermarket Carrefour, has wealth estimated at $4.6 billion.

Hussain Sajwani, chairman of luxury developer Damac Properties, stands third with $4.1 billion worth of assets, followed by Abdulla Al Futtaim ($3.3 billion), Saeed bin Butti Al Qebaisi ($2.7 billion), Saif Al Ghurair and family ($1.9 billion) and Khalifa bin Butti Al Muhairi ($1.5 billion).

Al Qebaisi and Al Muhairi are the latest entries into the billionaire league. Both have investments in retail, money exchange and healthcare sectors.

Among the UAE-based expat billionaires, LuLu Group chairman M.A. Yusuffali has reclaimed his top position from Landmark Group chief Micky Jagtiani.

The 7 Indian billionaires in the UAE command $22.7 billion (Dh83.3 billion) in assets.

According to Forbes magazine, Yusuffali’s wealth totalled $5 billion, followed by Jagtiani ($4.4 billion), B.R. Shetty ($4 billion), Ravi Pillai ($3.9 billion), Sunny Varkey ($2.4 billion), Joy Alukkas ($1.5 billion) and Shamsheer Vayalil ($1.5 billion).

The UAE is followed by Egypt, which is home to 6 billionaires, including the richest Arab Nassef Sawiris who holds $6.6 billion in assets. Overall, falling fortunes pushed 121 people out of the list, including all 10 Saudi Arabians.

Businesses must comply with VAT

Businesses across the UAE must comply with the value added tax (VAT) law by filing their returns on time, experts at a session on VAT returns and reporting stressed.

Organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Dubai Chapter, the session provided clarity on the process of filing returns, as well as registration for businesses that have not done so yet.

“In the beginning it was challenging for the businesses to register for VAT, as it was new for everyone,” said Naveen Sharma, chairman, ICAI Dubai Chapter. “But, with time and clarifications from the Federal Tax Authority (FTA), the businesses started getting their doubts cleared which helped them in the registration process. I think, as of now, all big organisations have already registered for VAT, but some small businesses in the market are still struggling with registration process. In due time, I think they will also be able to register themselves.”

Asked about how clear businesses are on filing returns, Sharma said that the VAT return form is very clear. “Guidelines issued by the FTA helped a lot in getting the clarity. But, businesses are facing some difficulties like getting the right invoices on time, reports from the system, etc. In due time and experience, I feel these issues will be resolved and businesses will get comfortable with VAT concepts and returns.”

Similarly, Mansoor Sarwar, regional director of Technical and Pre-Sales at Sage Middle East, noted that larger corporations and multinationals have handled VAT-implementation well, as they prepared well in advance. “It is the small and medium businesses who are finding the process overwhelming. The majority of smaller companies we have spoken to are only somewhat prepared or are not prepared at all for VAT. A lot of them are still uncertain about how to get their accounting and business systems ready, and have not gotten their employees trained for VAT-compliance.”

The learning curve, he said, is steep for a lot of small and medium companies, especially with regards to how to returns-filing, refund claims or how to conduct tax audits. “The simplest solution is to implement an internationally-recognised accounting software which is VAT-compliant. Find a software provider with prior VAT-implementation experience. Companies should also use a registered tax agent for support during this transition. Lastly, it is important that businesses remain proactive when it comes to VAT, and take the necessary steps to be ready.”

Forbes unveils list of 31 richest Arabs in the world

Forbes Middle East is uncovering the Arab billionaires that have been revealed in the 2018 Forbes US Global Billionaires ranking. The 31 mega-wealthy Arab business tycoons have a combined estimated net worth of $76.7 billion.

Construction and chemical tycoon, Nassef Sawiris, tops the list with an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion. He is followed by three Emirati business moguls-Abdullah Al Ghurair, Majid Al Futtaim and Hussain Sajwani, with an estimated net worth of $5.9 billion, $4.6 billion and $4.1 billion respectively.

None of the previous year’s Saudi billionaires made it to this year’s rankings.

As a result, the total wealth of Arab billionaires has fallen from $123.4 billion to $76.7 billion, and 11 have dropped off the charts: last year there were 42; today there are 31.

Rupee gains against dollar, reaches 17.65 vs dirham

The rupee firmed 9 paise to 65.08 against the dollar (17.65 against dirham) in opening trade on Monday after the greenback came under pressure as US President Donald Trump’s comments raised concerns of a global trade war.

Trump on Friday said trade wars were good and easy to win. His plan to put tariffs on steel and aluminium imports triggered a negative sentiments across overseas markets.

Forex dealers said weakness in the dollar against some other currencies overseas and foreign capital inflows in the domestic equity markets supported the rupee.

Gear up for an IPO boom in the GCC

The GCC is set to witness an unprecedented boom in initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2018 with the UAE and Saudi Arabia leading the way as nearly 30 companies are poised to go public, stock marekt analysts said.

The renewed interest for IPOs in the region is in the wake of a record 2017 that witnessed 17 issues raising as much as $2.95 billion in capital. The fourth quarter saw a total of eight IPOs in the GCC, representing a significant increase compared to the previous quarter, and raising a total proceeds of $2.5 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion compared to the third quarter’s $234 million.

The Dubai Financial Market and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange led GCC IPO activity in the fourth quarter in terms of proceeds, with two major offerings, raising $2.2 billion – which was 88 per cent of total GCC proceeds. The Tadawul was the largest in terms of IPO volume, witnessing IPOs of three real estate investments, whereas the Muscat Securities Market saw three IPOs that raised total proceeds of $82 million.

Steve Drake, head of PwC’s Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services in the Middle East, said GCC IPO activity ended 2017 on a high, supported by government policies and improved market conditions. “Furthermore, we are seeing renewed appetite for cross-border IPOs and an increase in confidence from institutional investors in GCC equity markets.”

Mall in Dubailand to open by end of 2018

Cityland Mall is on track for opening in the fourth quarter of this year, with 60 per cent of the project’s construction having been completed as of February 2018.

Leasing at the ‘nature-inspired’ shopping destination has also made considerable progress, with over 50 per cent of retail spaces being leased and committed. Construction work for the Carrefour hypermarket is nearly complete and will be ready for handover on or before the end of March. This will be the largest hypermarket in Dubailand.

Construction work for two major entertainment anchors – Vox Cinemas and Fabyland – are progressing and will be ready for handover within the next 6 to 8 weeks. By the end of Q2 2018, the site will be open for most mall tenants to commence their fit-out works.

New areas get popular among Abu Dhabi residents

Madinat Zayed was the most popular area among Abu Dhabi residents in 2017, according to ServiceMarket, a marketplace for moving and house services. The area received 14.46 per cent of all move-in requests.

Other areas that people moved into were Reem Island, Khalifa City, Al Khalidiyah and the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. Areas like Al Reef, Mussafah and Al Raha Beach were other popular areas that witnessed most move-in requests.

While established and densely-populated areas such as Madinat Zayed and Al Khalidiyah are still very popular, newly developed contenders such as Reem Island and Khalifa City are also gaining in popularity. A lot of people are also moving to the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, which are communities beyond Al Reef on the road to Dubai. These areas have become popular because they offer lower rents.

Madinat Zayed, Khalifa City, Reem Island and Al Khalidiyah also experienced the most moving-out activity. This could be because people tend to move a lot between these popular areas since they have many residential buildings. In addition, those who are looking for lower rents but don’t want to move their family away from the area where they’re already settled often choose to move to another home in the same area.

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