GULF STATES – ECONOMICS & FINANCE
UAE central bank sets early exit fee limit for mortgages
The Central Bank of the UAE directed local banks to reduce the early settlement fee on mortgages to a maximum of 1 percent or Dh10,000, whichever is less, to those borrowers who want to exit their mortgages early. The apex bank said in a circular that borrowers who had already paid 3 percent settlement fee can get the refund from their banks within 30 days. The early settlement fee was set at 3 percent in June 2018. “Early settlement or partial settlement fee for applying to home loans has been reverted to maximum one percent of the outstanding balance or Dh10,000, whichever is less. Banks and finance companies that arbitrarily changed the stated terms of the fees in existing customer agreements are required to respect the original terms of the agreement and refund all overcharges for all customers based on their original fee within 30 days of this notice,” read the circular.
Dubai offers good conditions for property buyers
Attractive property prices due to moderate declines, pro-active government measures, a maturing market, and renewed interests from first time home-buyers as well as investors appear to have given Dubai’s real estate sector more reasons to be upbeat in the fourth quarter, according to property experts. A steady but slow return to vibrancy is also discernable across the market, which is reflected in the Dubai Land Department’s (DLD) report which confirms that the value of real estate transactions in the emirate has grown by 12 percent in 2019 compared to the same period last year. As per Bayut’s latest Q3 2019 market report, Dubai’s property market presents good conditions for buyers, investors and renters in the final quarter of the year. While luxury and suburban areas gain traction with home buyers and investors, tenants are taking advantage of favourable prices to upgrade to established neighbourhoods “Communities such as Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Village Circle are at the forefront for sales, while established areas like Al Nahda, Dubai Marina, Mirdif, Bur Dubai and Jumeirah lead the rental market,” says the report. Based on the comparison of third quarter prices with the second quarter, Bayut report suggest moderate declines in average price per square foot across the board for properties on sale. However, suburban areas such as Dubai Sports City and Dubai Silicon Oasis are gaining traction with investors, and have experienced only minor price decreases. “This is in line with the demand for cost-effective properties, especially from first-time buyers, who made up 66 percent of the total investors in the Dubai real estate market for 2018 as per DLD’s finding,” the report said.
Dubai trade bucks global slowdown trend
Dubai’s economy has once again showed its resilience by posting a 5 percent year-on-year increase in non-oil trade during the January-June 2019 period due to a flexible business model and the ability to adapt to change that helped offset the impact of a slowdown in the global economy. Latest data released by Dubai Customs on Saturday reflects the emirate’s strong competitiveness and trade-friendly polices as the global trade faces headwinds amidst the US-China trade war, geopolitical tensions and a volatile crude oil market. Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade rose to Dh676 billion in the first half of 2019 from Dh644 billion in the corresponding period last year. China remained the largest trading partner and trade with India registered a strong 20 percent growth, official data showed. Exports rose 17 percent to Dh76 billion while re-exports were up 3 percent at Dh210 billion. Imports grew 4 percent to Dh390 billion. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, said the strong performance of foreign trade reflects the emirate’s ability to generate fresh growth opportunities even in an adverse global economic environment. “Dubai’s flexibility, ability to adapt to change and its responsiveness to the needs of businesses and investors have made it a model for sustainable growth. the latest results also point to Dubai’s rapidly-growing trading links with the world’s fastest growing economies. As the Dubai Silk Road project begins to take shape, the outlook for the emirate’s foreign trade is set to get even better,” Sheikh Hamdan said.
Dubai soars to no. 8 among global financial powerhouses
Dubai has risen up the ranks of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) to No. 8 position, representing its highest ever ranking. The city is the only financial centre within MEASA to appear within the top 10 rankings, placing it alongside other pivotal financial hubs such as London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. Dubai was most recently placed number 12 within the index in March 2019 and has consistently risen within the rankings, since the index was launched 12 years ago. Dubai has moved up 17 places since first appearing in 25th place in the inaugural report in 2007, and the latest placement represents an increase of seven GFCI rating points compared to March 2019. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of DIFC, said: “The city’s steady ascent in rankings has been driven by DIFC’s remarkable success in building an ecosystem that fosters financial industry growth. DIFC is one of the key initiatives at the forefront of Dubai’s new phase of growth and its efforts to create a business and investment environment that rivals the world’s best. 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, the emirate will further increase its commitment to supporting the financial industry and making the city a leading player in shaping the future of the global financial landscape. Our sights are set firmly on the goal of becoming the No. 1 ranked global financial centre. We will also continue to work closely with the industry to help them deliver value and find new opportunities for growth.” Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC said: “The DIFC has been a pioneer within the financial services industry since its inception in 2004 and continues to gain global recognition as an economic powerhouse and pivotal business hub. The financial sector is a cornerstone of the UAE’s economy and the DIFC is a magnet for global investment, and the central hub for international trade. Accelerating the growth of Dubai’s financial sector is a key priority, aligned with the fifty-year charter set out by Sheikh Mohammed in January 2019 to drive forward the economy.”
GCC leads in ease of doing business
Four GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar – have been listed among the World Bank’s top 20 improvers in its Ease of Doing Business 2020 list, along with India and Pakistan. The UAE last year jumped 10 places to 11th in the ranking. It also maintained first position among Arab countries. As a result of new measures taken by the GCC for ease of doing business, it can be expected that the four GCC countries will see further improvements in their rankings. However, the UAE will maintain its top position in the region as it is well ahead of its peers. Bahrain is ranked 62nd globally followed by Oman (78th), Qatar (83rd), Saudi Arabia (92nd) and Kuwait (97th).
Do business in Dubai without residence with virtual licence
Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, on Monday announced the launch of the region’s first Virtual Company Licence. The licence will allow investors worldwide to do business in Dubai digitally without requiring residence. The virtual licence, a joint initiative of Dubai Economy, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), General Directorate of Residency & Foreigners’ Affairs (GDRFA), Smart Dubai, and the Supreme Legislation Committee, focuses on three main sectors: creative industries, technology and services. The initiative, which offers vast opportunities for investors around the world to work digitally in Dubai without having to be in Dubai, will enhance confidence among businesses and investors while also opening new horizons for business competitiveness and growth in Dubai and the UAE. The virtual licence will enable freelancers and business people worldwide to have access to a regulated e-commerce platform and easily work with Dubai-based companies while also exploring new markets and investment opportunities digitally.
Dubai’s non-oil sector grows as sales pick up
Dubai’s non-oil private sector strengthened in September on the back of a solid increase in sales. The IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), released on Wednesday, increased to 52.6 points last month from 51.7 in August. It rose for the first time in four months. However, the latest figure was still among the lowest recorded over the past three years, signalling a relatively modest improvement in business conditions at non-oil companies. The survey results found that output volumes increased at a slower rate than those seen earlier in the year. But the pace of expansion was faster than in August, in part due to some firms boosting their marketing activity. Attention was also directed at reducing outstanding business, which fell for the first time since January 2016. The overall contraction was only marginal though. IHS Markit said new order growth at Dubai firms softened over the course of September, to indicate the fourth successive monthly slowdown in demand. While sales increased at a solid pace overall as a number of panellists mentioned that strong competition once again limited new orders from clients. The index is derived from individual diffusion indices which measure changes in output, new orders, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchased goods. The survey covers the Dubai non-oil private sector economy, with additional sector data published for travel and tourism, wholesale and retail, and construction.
Emirati women flaunt own jewellery designs at Sharjah expo
A stunning collection of gems and jewellery designed and carefully handcrafted by 10 Emirati female designers has caught the eyes of jewellery enthusiasts visiting the 47th Watch and Jewellery Middle East Show organised by and held at Expo Centre Sharjah. The pioneering Emirati entrepreneurs showcased their talents in jewellery design, while participating in the Emirati Designers’ Pavilion, initiated by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry to support and promote young entrepreneur projects in all exhibitions. Emirati designer Khadija Al Sinani, from Harf w Nagsh Jewellery, lauded the Sharjah Chamber’s efforts to nurture young Emirati talent to reveal their exquisite exhibits in one the most important and most prominent jewellery shows. Her compatriot, Fatima Al Bannai from Baguette Design, who is participating for the first time, hailed the Sharjah Chamber’s support extended to Emirati talent and thanked Expo Centre Sharjah for allowing her and her colleagues to introduce their unique designs. Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, chairman of the Sharjah Chamber, said: “Since its launch five editions ago, the Emirati Designers’ Pavilion has served as a springboard for many Emirati entrepreneurs including ladies, aspiring to enter the jewellery trade and design industry in the UAE.” Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah, said: “What we have seen in the show is promising and gives us great hope with a generation of Emirati entrepreneurs capable of developing unique designs and enhance the UAE’s position in the jewellery industry.”