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50 per cent discount on Ramadan groceries starts next week in UAE

The Ministry of Economy expects the prices of 10,000 items on shelves in 600 outlets in UAE to be slashed by 25 to 60 per cent and even more during Ramadan.

Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Manager of the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry, called on Union Co-ops and other outlets to swiftly announce the discounts for the upcoming holy month, as per Al Bayan.

Al Nuaimi added that the ministry has set up several meetings with outlets in order to set a comprehensive Ramadan plan.

Primary consumer goods will be made available beginning from next week, at the start of May.

Al Nuaimi added that two ‘baskets’ of goods have been suggested for the Ramadan season – one that comprises primary goods and the other which most people like to buy in Ramadan. The primary goods basket has 20 items that do not cost more than Dh100. The other basket comprises 20 items that cost less than Dh200.

“Baskets will be available in bundles – with items clearly demarcated on the label and the amount of savings consumers make on buying these items together rather than separately,” said Al Nuaimi.

“Shoppers can save between 25 to 30 per cent of the original cost of items this way.”

“Other baskets will be open so the buyers can choose 15 to 20 items out of a range of 300-400 available to compile,” he added.

Al Nuaimi stressed that price checker machines will be monitored and 3,500 devices will be in place for the Ramadan rush.

“We demanded that 4,000 screens be placed throughout the outlets helping to raise customer’s awareness about proper conduct and consumer behaviour.”

He also called for outlets to utilise social media to inform consumers about the discounts.

VAT refund scheme for UAE tourists gets the nod

The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) on Wednesday approved a refund scheme for tourists under which outlets and points of sales across the UAE will be connected to the refund system.

During its fifth meeting, the FTA said the number of businesses registered for VAT had surged to 281,000 while 637 have registered for excise tax.

Tax experts said the refund system is likely to be implemented soon and could be a mix of what is currently prevalent in Europe and Asia.

According to Mayank Sawhney, managing director, MaxGrowth Consulting, different tax refund systems currently work in different countries. “In Europe, you can get tax refund only at the airport when leaving the country. In Japan, tourists can get refunds immediately at retail outlets while shopping after submitting certain documents such as passport or outward travel air ticket copies, etc. In the UAE, it seems it will be a blend of what happens in Europe and Japan,” Sawhney said.

“In Japan, you go to any authorised retailer to do shopping and tell them that I am a non-resident, they will take a copy of passport, outward travel air tickets, undertaking letter, etc and will not charge VAT. But there are outlets, which are authorised to refund VAT as well,” he added.

“In the case of UAE, I think over a period of time, there will most likely be authorised points at airports as well as some selected points outside the airport such as certain money exchanges to get tax refund after submitting documents and evidence required that all conditions for being entitled to claim refund as a tourist are fulfilled. So these are some of the options the FTA may be considering, because they will not want long queues of tourists at UAE airports waiting to get refund, given the huge number of tourists who come to UAE every year,” Sawhney said.

To claim tax refund, the tourists should carry original passport to be shown to authorised retailers at the time of shopping and not just carry a passport copy if they want authorised retailer not to charge Consumption Tax to them.

Sawhney expects this system to be introduced soon in the next couple of months.

Nirav Shah, director, Fame Advisory, believes the UAE would register each of the retailer as part of the tourist refund scheme or a designated refund processing centre in each shopping mall.

“The retailers will be able to directly issue refunds to tourists when they are buying the goods subject to the guidelines provided by the FTA. Guidelines will be issued for retailers to get registered and they will have to follow certain process for issuing any such tax refunds. It means, the retailers will have to retain a copy of tourist’s passport or visit visa, etc. as a proof to submit to the FTA for tax refunds,” he said.

Shah expects the tourist tax refund scheme to be implemented by third quarter, depending on how stringent guidelines are.

Anurag Chaturvedi, partner, Crowe Horwath, believes that the tourists will be able to claim their refunds for sure from airports, from border posts, sea ports and all major ports custom terminals.

He expects the tourist tax refund scheme could be implemented by the end of second quarter of 2018.

Deepak J. Babani, executive vice-chairman of Eros Group, hailed it as a positive step as the move will help Dubai regain its attraction as a shopping destination.

He said Dubai had become slightly more expensive than Hong Kong and Singapore but with the tax refunds for tourists, it will regain its status as a top shopping destination for tourists.

CBD profit jumps 74.7% in Q1

Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) reported a 74.7 per cent rise in net profit to Dh280 million for the first quarter of 2018.

The bank said the net profit jump was on the back of a 4.8 per cent increase in operating income and a 5.1 per cent decline in operating expenses as impairment allowances dropped by 32.2 per cent.

Dr Bernd van Linder, chief executive officer, said CBD’s performance in the first quarter was resilient and was underpinned by measured lending growth in core segments, resulting in a strong increase in net interest income.

“Disciplined execution of our plans resulted in lower operating cost, however, at the same time further enhancements were rolled out to our well recognised cash management and digital offerings,” he said.

“The bank is confident of the overall macroeconomic environment in the UAE on the back of higher oil prices and the project pipeline in preparation for the EXPO 2020. We continue to maintain comfortable levels of liquidity and capital and remain focused on our plans that balance growth and sustainable profitability,” said Dr Linder. In the first quarter, the bank’s total assets were at Dh70.2 billion, a decrease of 0.3 per cent compared to the Dh70.4 billion as at December 31, 2017. Loans and advances at Dh47.0 billion registered a drop of 0.7 per cent when compared to Dh47.3 billion as at last year end, however, loans were 6.7 per cent higher when compared to Dh44.0 billion as at the end of first quarter of 2017.

Personal banking loans at Dh6.7 billion registered a drop of 1.9 per cent when compared to the Dh6.8 billion as at the end of previous year. Corporate, commercial and business banking loans were at Dh40.3 billion, a 0.5 per cent decrease when compared to Dh40.5 billion as at December 31, 2017.

Customers’ deposits of Dh48.2 billion declined by 0.4 per cent compared to Dh48.4 billion at the previous year-end. The bank’s non-performing loans ratio increased to 7.5 per cent from 6.5 per cent at the end of 2017, while overall loan loss coverage ratio improved to 91.0 per cent.


Sun shines bright on Dubai tourism

The tourism industry in Dubai continued to enjoy decent growth in the first quarter of 2018, thanks to increased tourist inflow from key markets India, Russia, China, Germany, France and Italy.

According to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the number of international overnight tourists to Dubai increased 2 per cent to 4.7 million during the January-March period.

Tourist arrivals from India increased 7 per cent to 617,000, while Saudi Arabia and the UK declined 1 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

The number of tourists from Russia witnessed a massive 106 per cent jump in the quarter, topping the growth chart with 259,000 Russians visiting the emirate. Fifth-placed China delivered 258,000 visitors, up a strong 12 per cent. This is mainly because of the visa-on-arrival facility granted to Russian and Chinese citizens.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Tourism, said the first quarter of the year has yielded stable performance supporting strong growth for all adjacent sectors like hotels and airlines.

Moussa El Hayek, chief operating officer at Al Bustan Centre & Residence, said Dubai is a progressive city, always having fast-changing landscapes. With a lot of newer attractions coming up, tourists are always have something up on the list to visit and enjoy.

“With lot of newer developments in terms of infrastructure and attractions we are sure tourism industry will attract a lot of good tourist inflow. Reasonable pricing from the stakeholders will surely make Dubai an affordable destination. Secondly, the visa on arrival for Russians and Chinese has given a good boost to the tourism sector in Dubai,” El Hayek said.

According to Dubai Tourism, Europe made particularly strong contributions with most of the countries posting double-digit increases.

Tourists from Germany increased 13 per cent with 194,000 visitors, France was up 17 per cent with 103,000 at 12th place and 14th-placed Italy rose 20 per cent with 80,000. In a record first appearance, Sweden featured among Dubai’s top 20 source markets, delivering 42,000 visitors, up 9 per cent.

Rounding off the top 10 feeder markets, sixth-placed Oman ended down 4 per cent. Travellers from eighth-placed US increased by a moderate 2 per cent, while declines were witnessed by both ninth-placed Iran and 10th-placed Pakistan at 19 and 22 per cent, respectively.

From a regional perspective, Western Europe retained pole position, contributing 23 per cent of overnight visitor volumes, ahead of the GCC and South Asia, both with 17 per cent shares.

At the end of March 2018, Dubai’s growing hotel room inventory stood at 108,807, spread across 689 hotel and hotel apartment establishments, representing year-on-year increases of 4 and 1 per cent, respectively.

Occupied room nights also rose compared to the end of Q1 2017, totalling 8.27 million versus 7.96 million, while the average occupancy rate across all hotel and hotel apartment categories stood at an impressive 87 per cent.

Revealed: top 25 companies to work for in UAE

Working in the UAE can be a great experience for anyone, and this new study will tell you if you’re rendering your services to one of the ‘greatest’ companies to work for.

Global consultancy Great Place to Work on Wednesday revealed its eighth annual list of ‘Best Workplaces’ in the UAE, recognising the nation’s top employers with outstanding workplace cultures.

Climbing from fourth place on last year’s list to become this year’s winner was The One, a made-in-the-UAE retail company that has been featured on every UAE best companies list since it launched in 2011. Its CEO, Thomas Lundgren, was also named ‘Leader of the Year for 2017-2018’.

Runner-up on this year’s list was DHL, which moved down one spot from last year, followed by Omnicom Media Group, which also moved down one spot to take third place. In fourth place was Splash, while Hilton came in fifth, climbing four places from last year’s list.

Rounding out the top 10 were Hyatt, Weber Shandwick, Hilti, Cisco and FedEx.

Completing the list of top 25 workplaces in the UAE were WSP, Philips, Apparel, Leminar Air Conditioning Company, UAE Exchange, PizzaExpress, Smith & Nephew, Danone, Danube, Iconic, Delta Partners, NMC Healthcare, Leminar Air Conditioning Industries, Redington and Centrepoint.

UAE investment in renewables rockets 2,815% during 2017

The UAE was the second-largest investor in the renewable energy sector in the Middle East and Africa last year, investing Dh8 billion ($2.2 billion), a stunning growth of 2,815 per cent over the previous year.

The UAE recorded the second highest growth after Rwanda’s 8,665 per cent as the African country invested $400 million (Dh1.46 billion) in the renewable energy sector in 2017.

Regionally, Egypt took the lead with Dh9.5 billion ($2.6 billion) investments last year, achieving a growth of nearly 500 per cent over the previous year.

Jordan invested Dh4 billion ($1.1 billion), an increase of 26 per cent. While Morocco and South Africa reduced investments into the renewables by 48 per cent and 88 per cent to Dh734 million ($200 million) and Dh367 million ($100 million), respectively.

“The UAE’s investment last year was more heavily concentrated. Two PV [photovoltaic] projects, the largest to go ahead anywhere in the world last year, reached financial close: the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum III installation, at 1.2GW and $899 million, and the Marubeni JinkoSolar and Adwea Sweihan plant, at 800MW and an estimated $968 million,” said a Bloomberg New Energy Finance and UN Environment Programme report.

“Both projects have been financed by equity and debt from international development and commercial banks, and were won by international developers with keenly priced bids in 2016.”

The MEA region, according to the report, saw asset finance increase by 48 per cent to Dh27.15 billion ($7.4 billion) last year.

“Some particular bright spots were the UAE, where finance jumped from almost nothing in 2016 to $2.1 billion in 2017, and Egypt, where it leapt from $400 million to $2.6 billion. Just four projects were asset-financed in the UAE last year but two of these were very large solar PV arrays, of 1.2GW and 800MW respectively, for the Marubeni JinkoSolar and Adwea Sweihan PV Plant and the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum III PV Plant,” it noted.

Globally, investments in renewable energy edged up two per cent in 2017 to $279.8 billion, taking cumulative investment since 2010 to $2.2 trillion, and since 2004 to $2.9 trillion. The latest rise in capital outlays took place in a context of further falls in the costs of wind and solar that made it possible to buy megawatts of equipment more cheaply than ever before, it said.

A record 157GW of renewable power were commissioned in 2017, up from 143GW in 2016 and far out-stripping the 70GW of net fossil fuel generating capacity added last year. Solar alone accounted for 98GW, or 38 per cent of the net new power capacity coming on stream during 2017, it added.

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