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GULF STATES – ECONOMICS & FINANCE
WTO to probe UAE’S complaint against Qatar

The World Trade Organisation, WTO, agreed to look into the complaint filed by the United Arab Emirates against the ban imposed by Qatar on Emirati products. The WTO has decided to constitute an arbitration committee to investigate the UAE’s complaint. The UAE has stressed that the Qatari ban on Emirati products is a flagrant violation of WTO rules and at odd with its obligations towards the global trade body. The country said it was looking forward to working with the WTO arbitrators and contesting Qatar’s unilateral decision to ban UAE products. The ban came in the wake of severing diplomatic relations with Qatar by the Arab Quartet due to the former’s support for terrorist and extremist outfits. Qatar partially withdrew the measures against UAE products just before the last session of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, DSB, on April 27 this year, but the UAE contends that the previous decision of Qatar as well as some current measures went against its obligations to WTO. The UAE believes that the Qatari measures violated the WTO’s basic principles of market access and its rules against discrimination. The Qatari measures aimed to target the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, which opposed Qatar’s patronage for terrorism and extremism, dissemination of hate speech, and interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The UAE believes that the Qatari measures violated Article 23 of the WTO’s rules for dispute settlement procedures, which proscribes unilateral retaliatory measures such as the ones that Qatar has taken.

Cash-based transactions continue to dominate Dubai realty

Cash is still the king and it continues to rule Dubai’s property market despite a decline of over one-third in transactions due to a slowdown in the economy and property prices, according to official data. Figures showed that around 85 per cent of total investment going into Dubai’s real estate is cash-based, while the remaining purchases are backed by mortgage. Since most of the purchases are spurred by cash, this shows that a large chunk of investments in property is coming from foreign investors, while mortgage deals are backed by residents. Quoting data from the Dubai Land Department, the Central Bank of the UAE’s 2018 annual report revealed that investments in real estate with a value of deals of less than Dh10 million in Dubai fell 34.3 per cent to Dh45.6 billion last year compared to Dh69.4 billion in the previous year. Cash payments made up 84.4 per cent while mortgages accounted for 15.6 per cent of the property deals. Raju Menon, chairman of Kreston Menon, said more cash transactions means most of the investments into Dubai’s real estate sector is coming from abroad while smaller mortgage deals are done locally by residents living and working in the UAE.

Modi 2.0 to boost UAE-India trade

The return to power by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a sweep win has buoyed global investor sentiment and is expected to accelerate a critical surge in cross-border investment and trade between the UAE and India, which are on track to cross $100 billion by 2020, a leading NRI investor said. Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, whose investment in India is around Rs20 billion, said while many UAE companies are set to expand their bases in India, investors from the subcontinent would be encouraged to expand their investments in the UAE following the introduction of liberal reforms and new visa rules, including permanent residency Golden Card and 10-year visa. He said under Modi 2.0, sectors that are set to achieve new growth momentum in the UAE and India would be education, tourism, health and wellness, infrastructure, consumer products and foreign remittance. During his second term, Modi is expected to unveil many reforms to support NRI welfare, children’s education, cheaper air travel and reforms supporting investment into the country, by aiding ease of doing business, Dr Moopen said. He said Aster DM Group would continue to support cooperation between the two countries by encouraging knowledge sharing, exchange of medical talents, introduction of best practices and benchmarks in healthcare.

Petrol prices set to rise again in UAE in June

Fuel prices in the UAE are set to increase in June. Super 98 petrol will cost Dh2.53 per litre, up from Dh2.48 a litre in May, while Special 95 will cost Dh2.42 a litre, up from Dh2.34 a litre the previous month. Diesel will cost Dh2.56 a litre, up from Dh2.53 a litre in May. This is the fourth consecutive month this year that fuel prices have gone up.

Fuel Prices In Uae For 2019 (Prices in dirhams per litre)
MonthsE-Plus 91Special 95Super 98Diesel
May2.252.342.482.53
April2.042.112.232.49
March1.831.922.042.41
February1.761.841.952.28
January1.811.8922.3
Dubai has over 15,000 Chinese investors, says DED report

Over 18,975 Chinese investors own 5,977 active business licences in the emirate of Dubai, according to a report issued by the Business Registration & Licensing (BRL) sector in the Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai. Between 2014 and 2018, 2,312 licences were issued for Chinese investors, with 371 licences issued in 2014, 424 in 2015, 396 in 2016, and 503 in 2017. Last year, 618 licences were issued to Chinese investors, an increase of 22.8 per cent over the previous year. Over the past years, Dubai has welcomed 6,364 Chinese investors who have established businesses in various sectors. In 2014, there were 1254 registered Chinese investors for new commercial licenses, 1,222 in 2015, 1,154 in 2016, 1,309 in 2017 and 1325 investors in 2018. Of these licences, 4,811 are Limited Liability Companies, in addition to 722 Sole Proprietorship, 337 Civil Companies, 68 Branches of Foreign Companies, 15 Limited Liability Companies, eight Free Zone Branches, eight Branches of Companies based in other emirates, five Government Commercial Liaison Offices, one General Partnership Company, one Public Joint-Stock Company and one Business Forum Licence. The report showed that commercial activities accounted for 4628 licences, followed by professional activities with 1192 licences, 132 tourism licences and 25 industrial licenses. The number of female Chinese investors is 4,900, compared with 14075 male investors. Readymade Garments topped the list of the ten business activities for Chinese investors, followed by Electronics, Women’s saloon, Mechanical, engineering & contracting trade, Construction, Electrical trade, Transportation, shipping & warehousing, Auto parts and Furniture. The top five commercial activities included: clothing, footwear, gifts, textile & fabrics, and handbags & leather goods. Professional activities include: women’s salon, beauty center, women’s health care, Hanaa Salon.

 

UAE among top 5 most competitive economies

The UAE government’s efforts to make the country’s economy among the world’s most competitive economies is paying off year-on-year as it achieved the first rating in 20 sub-indices and the second ranking in nine positions, according to the IMD World Annual Competitiveness Report 2019 released on Tuesday. The Switzerland-based think tank said in its annual report that the UAE jumped from the seventh place last year to the fifth position in 2019, thanks to improvements in government and business efficiency indices as well as technological and scientific infrastructure. The UAE has recorded improvement in its competitiveness for the third consecutive year, rising from 15th place in 2016 to its current ranking this year. Among key indices, rating for government efficiency improved from fourth to second position, business efficiency from second to first position and infrastructure improvement from 36th to 32nd position. Among the sub-factors, the UAE has been rated best and first in entrepreneurship, international experience, digital transformation of firms, redundancy costs, overall productivity, agility of companies, working hours, use of big data and analytics, relocation threat of business and resilience of economies, among others. The UAE has recently announced long-term visas and permanent residency for expatriates as well as amended and cancelled 1,500 government services for different public departments which would further improve the country’s competitiveness and ease of doing business rating.

UAE non-oil trade hits dh1.6t in 2018

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade, including direct and free zone trade, and customs warehouses, reached a total of Dh1.628 trillion in 2018, the Federal Customs Authority said on Tuesday.

Direct non-oil foreign trade accounted for 63 per cent (Dh1.025 trillion) of the total, while free zone trade and customs warehouses amounted to 36 per cent (Dh592.4 billion) and one per cent (Dh11 billion) respectively, FCA said in a statement. In 2017, the UAE non-oil foreign trade was Dh1.612 trillion, up from Dh1.599 trillion in 2016. Ali Saeed Matar Al Neyadi, Customs Commissioner and Chairman of the Authority, said that the UAE non-oil foreign trade witnessed positive and significant developments in the said year, most important of which is the continuation of growth and stability in UAE Foreign Trade with the rest of the world which enhanced the UAE position as strategic, commercial gate for the states in the region.

DLD signs license agreement with Mashreq bank

Dubai Land Department (DLD) has signed a license agreement with Mashreq Bank for the use of the e-mortgage system. The agreement was signed by Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director general of DLD, and Arshad Khan, representing Mashreq Bank. Bin Mejren said: “The development and launch of the new e-mortgage system come as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance automation applications and systems in our transactions to reduce paper transactions and the number of visits. We expect that applying blockchain technologies will contribute to reducing the number of visits, in line with the ratios set by the Government of Dubai for government entities. At DLD, we are keen to support the directives of our wise leadership and the strategies to make Dubai the smartest city in the world.” DLD successfully developed an electronic mortgage registration system known as the e-mortgage system to record and modify mortgages as well as procedures for their liquidation. Mashreq Bank is preparing to use the new system to register mortgage contracts for those who applied to the service from DLD. Under the new agreement, the parties seek to structure and develop the relationship between them, promote their common interests for integration, and enhance close cooperation and coordination between them to achieve the vision and strategy of the Government of Dubai for the benefit of the public.

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