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Petrol prices reduced in UAE for December

Motorists across the UAE celebrated as the Ministry of Energy and Industry announced a reduction in fuel prices for the month of December.

Super 98 for the month of December was announced at Dh2.25 per litre, down from Dh2.57 in November, while Special 95 stood at Dh2.15, down from Dh2.46. In addition, E-plus 91 was priced at Dh2.05, down from Dh2.38 in November, while the price of diesel has been fixed at Dh2.61, down from Dh2.87 per litre.

Several experts had earlier revealed that motorists could expect a massive reduction in fuel prices for the last month of the year. A seemingly relentless rise in US crude supply, together with Saudi Arabia’s insistence that it will not cut output on its own to stabilise the market, earlier sent Brent crude to a fresh 2018 low below $58 a barrel.

Opec and its allies, led by Russia, have been curbing production under a pact reached in late-2016 to prop up oil prices. Moscow agreed to curb output by 300,000 barrels per day, or one sixth of the overall cut of 1.8 million bpd, but Russian companies took several months to reach that level of reduction. Riyadh has suggested Opec and its allies reduce output by one million bpd from January 2019 to arrest a price decline as Brent crude fell from as high as $85 in October due to concerns about a possible glut.

The Russian Energy Ministry held a meeting with the heads of domestic oil producers on Tuesday, before a planned gathering between Opec and its allies in Vienna on December 6-7. Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is the world’s second biggest oil producer, said on Wednesday that he was in touch with Opec and ready to continue cooperation on supply if needed, but he was satisfied with an oil price of $60.

US crude inventories hit their highest in a year, and are now only 80 million barrels below March 2017’s record 535 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Rupee rises to 3-month high, stands at 18.97 versus UAE dirham

Rising for the fourth straight day, the rupee climbed 21 paise to a three month high of 69.64 against the US dollar in early trade Friday, amid weakness in the greenback against some currencies overseas and a higher opening of domestic equities.

Against the UAE dirham, the rupee was trading at 18.97 at 9:30am (UAE time), according to XE.com.

Forex traders said, increased selling of the American currency by exporters and banks and sustained foreign fund inflows also supported the domestic currency.

At the interbank forex market, the rupee opened higher at 69.68 and rose further to quote at 69.64, showing a rise of 21 paise over its previous close.

On Thursday the rupee had vaulted 77 paise to a three-month high of 69.85 per US dollar.

The local unit also gathered momentum following easing crude oil prices, which slipped below the USD 60 per dollar mark as investors fretted over a supply glut.

Globally, Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading 0.42 per cent up at USD 59.76 per barrel.

Meanwhile, on net basis, foreign funds bought shares worth Rs 823.47 crore, while DIIs purchased share to the tune of Rs 973.31 crore Thursday, provisional data showed.

The benchmark BSE Sensex gained over 150 points and the NSE Nifty began the December derivatives series by hitting the 10,900 mark in early trade Friday on positive cues from other Asian bourses ahead of the two-day G20 Summit.

The 30-share index rose 175.75 points, or 0.49 per cent, to trade at 36,346.16. In similar movement, the NSE Nifty breached the 10,900 mark, and was trading 50.45 points, or 0.46 per cent, higher at 10,909.15.

Healthcare demand to drive investments in Dubai

Dubai’s healthcare sector will continue to see a steady growth over the next few years, driven by a growing population and several landmark projects, and cementing its position as an attractive destination for investments, experts said.

Dr Ibtesam AlBastaki, director of investment and PPP’s Department at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said that Dubai leads the way for private sector participation in the healthcare industry in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

“Healthcare providers in the private sector in Dubai have contributed to developing a strong health ecosystem, which accounts for over 79 per cent of the utilisation for outpatient services, and over 74 per cent of inpatient services. This is in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Increase in demand for quality health services due to Dubai’s rapid urban development, population growth, and influx of medical tourists is one of biggest opportunities for private sector providers and investors in the health sector,” she said.

According to the Dubai Health Investment Guide 2018-25, Dubai’s healthcare sector accounts for 3.6 per cent of the emirate’s GDP. This figure is likely to increase substantially in parallel with Dubai’s population, which is expected to reach 4.2 million inhabitants in 2025. Currently, 83 per cent of Dubai’s population is between 15 and 64 years old, with a high prevalence of chronic and non-communicable diseases. The guide also showed that the UAE is amongst the countries with a mortality rate due to cardiovascular diseases reaching 147.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, up to three times higher than the UK or Australia.

The country also has a diabetes prevalence ratio reaching 17.3 per cent in the population aged 20 to 79; this is two to four times higher than Australia or the UK. However, several professionals noted that the prevention and early detection landscape is changing rapidly to include additional screening services as part of mandatory health insurance.

“To meet the growing developments and private sector investment in the Dubai healthcare, the DHA is developing its regulatory standards to ensure the delivery of high medical standards that exceed expectations, and to provide the emirate with skilled and highly qualified health professionals,” said Dr Marwan Al Mulla, CEO of Health Regulations Sector at the DHA.

Experts also noted that several hospitals and specialised centres have already invested in Dubai’s healthcare sector after realising the city’s unique investment climate. “Increase in demand for quality health services due to Dubai’s rapid urban development, population growth and influx of medical tourists is one of biggest challenges facing the Dubai Health Authority,” said Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qutami, director-general of the DHA. “Many of world’s largest hospitals and specialised centres have invested in Dubai’s healthcare sector after realising the city’s unique investment climate, which provides a number of investment incentives.”

Dubai’s excellent infrastructure and competitive, investor-friendly business environment, combined with the emirate’s position as a global and regional hub for innovation and talent, along with new investment initiatives by the government and government related entities have opened up huge opportunities for private sector providers.

 

“The growth we see is supported by a rise in population, rising utilisation of health services specifically in the private sector, the implementation of mandatory health insurance which has seen approximately 98 per cent of Dubai’s resident population covered by health insurance, as of September 3, 2018. The growth will also be driven by an increase in healthcare spending due to growing confidence in the health system and improved access to specialised health services in the emirate of Dubai,” AlBastaki said.

She added that there is a growing acceptance among healthcare regulators, investors and providers in Dubai to look at models of care beyond curative services delivered in the hospital, and to focus particularly on preventative care, disease management, and extended care which includes home-based health services.

“While innovative and disruptive models need proactive investment facilitation support by regulators, it is imperative for us as regulators to review policies and legislations that could enable the licensing of these facilities and applications, and encourage their roll out and set up to improve access to patient services for the community, also supported by health insurance coverage and inclusion in health insurers’ networks for facilities and applications providing these health services. Doing this would really support us in developing a sustainable health system, and make Dubai a world-class destination for medical practice and treatments,” she said.

Dubai will also continue to cement its position as a leading health tourism hub with scalable growth opportunities. Over 326,000 health tourists came to Dubai in 2016, generating over Dh1 billion in total healthcare revenue. The DHA’s objective is to attract over 500,000 health tourists by 2020. The top four specialities requested by health tourists were: orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dental and fertility treatment. In 2016, 37 per cent of health tourists came from Asia and 15 per cent from Europe. A travel insurance programme specifically designed for health tourists travelling to Dubai has been introduced to support health tourism.

US plans $60m pavilion for expo 2020 Dubai

UAE-US relations received a strong boost on Wednesday as the US Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai was unveiled. The mammoth project to be built at a cost of $60 million will see the US bringing in latest solutions and services to the nation, with top corporates like Pepsico joining as top sponsor and Virgin Hyperloop One to premier during the event on October 20, 2020.

Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali, executive director, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said: “The US pavilion promises to be one of the most visited and interesting of Expo 2020 Dubai. And events like these unveiling, along with other participating countries revealing their pavilion designs and themes, serve to add to the excitement and intrigue of what visitors can expect to see and enjoy at the Expo.These pavilions, in combination with the many visitor experiences, will help attract the 25 million visits to Expo 2020 and leave a lasting legacy and impact on all our visitors. The US, along with other participating nations, will play a key role in delivering our ambition of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.”

Representing the US government at the event were Philip Frayne, US Consul-General Dubai, and James Core, director of the US Department of State’s Expo Unit. They said: “We are excited by Pavilion USA 2020’s release of the first designs of the US pavilion and the announcement of their first sponsors. This is an important step in the United States’ journey to Expo 2020 Dubai. We encourage other companies, cultural and philanthropic organisations and citizens to learn more about opportunities to get involved.”

Frayne added that the current bilateral trade is estimated at $24 billion and expected to surge in the years to come.

“The US and UAE will jointly work in the oil and gas sector, nuclear power and defence industry in the years to come. Dubai is known to encourage business and gives opportunity to bring new ideas that help young entrepreneurs take that leap of doing business with ease. The emirate is known for its long-term vision and that has helped it to record robust growth,” added Frayne.

Construction on the pavilion will begin by mid-2019. The event also included the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Pavilion USA 2020, AmCham Dubai, AmCham Abu Dhabi and the US-UAE Business Council to promote the goal of engaging the private sector in the US pavilion.

In a joint statement, Anne Jaffrey, president of AmCham Dubai; Sharief Fahmy, chairman of the AmCham Abu Dhabi, and Danny E. Sebright, president of the US-UAE Business Council, said: “The MOU serves as the platform from which our members can come together in support of the US pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. We are pleased to work closely to ensure the bilateral business communities are fully engaged in this important effort. As a commercial priority of the US and the UAE, there are few opportunities more deserving of our full support.”The event was attended by Krista Pilot, vice-president of corporate affairs for Asia, Middle East & North Africa from PepsiCo, and Ryan Kelly, head of marketing and communications, Virgin Hyperloop One.

New system to collect tobacco tax starts in January in UAE

A scheme to digitally track all cigarette products to guarantee compliance with excise tax requirements in the UAE will be launched on January 1, 2019.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Federal Tax Authority (FTA), issued a decision regarding the implementation of the Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme.

The decision stated that the scheme will go into effect on January 1, 2019, affecting all types of cigarettes sold locally – whether imported or locally produced – with plans to gradually expand the scheme to include all tobacco products. They will be digitally tracked, from production until they reach the end-consumer. This will help comply with excise tax requirements on tobacco products.

The FTA stressed the need for tobacco suppliers to abide by the scheme in order to avoid penalties, which could include being banned from trading until full compliance is achieved.

Marks will be placed on the packaging of tobacco products and registered in the FTA’s database; they contain data that can be read using special devices.

As of January 1, 2019, the marks will be made available for importers or producers of designated excise goods, including cigarettes, to purchase and place on their products, indicating that due taxes have been settled.

As of May 1, 2019, it will not be permissible to import designated excise goods which do not have marks into the UAE. As of August 1, 2019, it will not be permissible to supply designated excise goods which do not have marks in the UAE.

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