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General and Legal News from the UAE – June 2021 № 1

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published on 1 June 2021 | reading time approx. 6 minutes

 

The following provides a brief overview about the latest business, economic and legal news from all around the United Arab Emirates and GCC region.

 

    

  

Covid-19: UAE and Greece establish quarantine-free travel corridor

A safe and quarantine free travel corridor for fully vaccinated travelers between the UAE and Greece has been established where vaccination certificates issued by the UAE as well as by Greek health authorities are mutually recognized.
 
Fully vaccinated passengers are able to travel freely between the UAE and Greece, effective from 18 May 2021 onwards and no longer are required to undergo quarantine requirements.
 
This is yet a further step of both countries to tackle post-Covid-19 pandemic challenges and to facilitate the free movement of individuals, promote vaccination campaigns as well as to promote tourism and thus revive their respective economies. Citizens and residents planning to make use of the benefits resulting from the quarantine free corridor will be asked to show proof of having received the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in accordance with the approved certificates or applications – both mutually recognized by authorities on both sides – issued by health authorities. PCR laboratory test results are also accessed through these applications.
 

Covid-19: Oman lifts movement ban, commercial activities resume with restrictions

Between 7pm and 4am from 8-15 May 2021, movement of people and vehicles as well as commercial activity during the day were banned in Oman. This nightly curfew has been lifted due to the improving situation by the Sultanates Supreme Committee, that has been tasked with fighting the spread of Covid-19.
 

Restaurants and commercial complexes are allowed to resume trading at 50 per cent capacity of visitors. However, visitors and guests are not allowed after 8pm and before 4am, whereas pick-ups and home deliveries will be available during that period. Exempted from this ban are food grocery stores. Gyms and sport centers remain closed.
 
Regarding government employees, the Committee said, that employees might return to their government offices at 50 per cent capacity, given that those not physically attending may perform their work from home.
 
Private Sectors are also advised to implement online work plans so that employees can make use of home office work in order to keep the number of employees required to appear at their workplace at minimum.
 
The Committee voiced its special thanks to the Royal Oman Police and the Public Prosecution Department as well as to all members of society adhering to rules and regulations.
 

Children between the age of 12-15 in the UAE now eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

Following the conduction of strict clinical trials and assessments, the UAE’s Ministry of Health has approved children between the age of 12-15 years old to be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The emergency local use of the vaccine has been approved following the outcomes of strict clinical assessments and trials.
 
Previously, under the National Vaccine Program against Covid-19, the Ministry of Health and Prevention had stated that only UAE citizens and residents above 16 years of age were eligible for a vaccination against Covid-19.
 
As per the new decision, exemptions for eligibility to Covid-19 vaccines were announced and exemption certificates will be issued to the eligible individuals by accredited health centers, clinics and hospitals.
 
By 15 May, the UAE had administered a total of 11,448363 Covid-19 vaccination doses.
 

FDI to the UAE surges 44,2 per cent in 2020, backed by billion-dollar infrastructure investments

Despite global economic slow-down during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE has managed to witness an increase of 44,2 per cent of FDI into the country in 2020.
 
Regulatory changes to the FDI law and amendments to the commercial companies’ law were made in order to attract more foreign direct investment and in order to boost the local economy. The new FDI law of 2018 permits 100 per cent foreign ownership of local businesses by global investors in the UAE mainland. This move came amid the UAE government to increase FDI into the UAE and thus diversifying the UAE’s economy. It also goes in line with the UAE’s Industrial Strategy “Operation 300bn”, under which the government aims to increase the contribution to the GDP of the industrial sector to Dh300 billion by 2031 from currently Dh133 billion.
 
In a statement by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, he proved the UN estimates of global FDI flow decreasing by 42 per cent due to the pandemic wrong and proudly announced that despite these estimates the UAE even witnessed an increase of 44,2 per cent of FDI inflows in 2020 equaling Dh73,45bn (nearly $20 billion).
 

The majority of this surge results from ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) monetizing a part of the company’s non-core assets. Dh62 billion in FDI into the country were attracted by ADNOC last year through several multi-billion-dollar transactions in the infrastructure- and midstream sector. Partnership opportunities were opened up by ADNOC across its real estate and midstream sectors allowing foreign private equity and pension funds to invest capital.
 
In July 2020, an agreement worth $20,7bn was signed to invest in Abu Dhabi’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure, unlocking $10,1bn of FDI into the UAE.
 
The Emirate of Dubai added its part to achieving a surge of 44,2 per cent in FDI in 2020. 455 projects were realized resulting in attracting Dh24,7bn of FDI and creating approximately 18,325 new jobs in Dubai in 2020.
 

New law allowing full foreign ownership of onshore companies takes effect on 1 June 2021 

The new law allowing full foreign ownership of onshore companies takes effect 1 June 2021. This has been confirmed by the UAE government.
 
Amendments to the Commercial Company Ownership Law were first announced in November of last year, stating that a major UAE shareholder would no longer be required for onshore companies. Furthermore, an UAE onshore company no longer obliges its Board of Members to be composed of a majority of UAE nationals and does no longer need to be chaired by an Emirati National.
 
A provision mandating an Emirati national or a legal UAE-owned company to act as an agent for a foreign onshore company has also been abolished.
 
The Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri was quoted “The amended Commercial Company law aims at boosting the country’s competitive edge and is a part of UAE government efforts to facilitate doing business.”
 
The UAE government is intending to create a more investment friendly environment for foreign investors, while diversifying the UAE economy and attracting a flow of investment to other vital economic sectors other than the oil sector.
 
Sheikh Mohammed proudly tweeted that during last year’s Covid-19 pandemic where the world suffered great economic loss with a global FDI decline of 42 per cent, the UAE had managed through great “crisis management guaranteed investment” resulting in a growth in FDI into the country of 44 per cent.
 
Further incentives to attract foreign investment are apart from the changes in the Commercial Companies Law and the Foreign Direct Investment incentives, more attractive customs duties, further tax incentives as well as the possibility to operate via a dual license on- and offshore.
 

Saudi travel ban to remain on 13 countries when flights resume 17 May 2021

On 17 May 2021, Saudi Arabia lifted the travel ban and international flights have been resumed. For Saudi Nationals and citizens suspensions of international travel by land, air and sea have been lifted. However, a ban on international flights from 13 countries will stay intact, in order to curb the spread of the corona virus. These countries as specified by the Ministry of Interior are Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Democratic Congo, India, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen.

 
The 20 countries listed previously as ‘banned’ countries by the Ministry of Interior were: Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UAE, the UK and the US. Most of these countries have been removed from the ban and Saudi Nationals and citizens willing to travel to the allowable countries are urged to abide by local safety measurements and precautionary measures.
 
Arriving guests to the kingdom are required to provide a negative PCR test result from a verified laboratory, not older than 72 hours from the time the test has been taken to the departure to the kingdom, redo two PCR tests within the kingdom upon arrival – within the first 24 hours of arrival and on the 7th day of arrival to the kingdom. In case the PCR test on the 7th day upon arrival to the kingdom is negative guests are allowed to leave the mandatory 14-day quarantine on day 8 after arrival.
 
All guests must show proof of a medical insurance covering potential costs of Covid-19 treatment and the 14-day (potentially 8 day) quarantine, as well as proof of vaccination with either of the following vaccines: 2 doses of Pfizer BioNTech, 2 doses of AstraZeneca, 2 doses of Moderna, 1 does of Johnson & Johnson. The last vaccination dose may not have been taken less than 14 days before leaving to the kingdom. All rules and regulations are subject to regularly being updated and changed by the official authorities.

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