From a prolonged pandemic and hosting the Expo 2020 to making the largest legislative reforms in the nation’s 50-year history, the UAE had an eventful, exciting, and action-packed 2021 filled with various highs and lows.
UAE has been proactive in tackling and minimising the impact of the pandemic. In fact, the UAE was one of the first nations to achieve a 95%-plus vaccination rate. Since the last quarter of 2021, the government has relaxed social distancing rules for both businesses and public places.
The renowned World Expo 2020 was hosted by Dubai (United Arab Emirates) beginning on the 1st of October 2021, under the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, the six-month extravaganza saw 20 million-plus visitors by the Expo’s close on 31 March 2022. This event served as a unique global platform to attract investments, forge agreements, and promote international cooperation with individuals from more than 192 participating countries that set up 200 pavilions. Expo 2020 in Dubai has bolstered and contributed to strengthened bilateral trade and investment in both the public and private sectors with thousands of agreements, understandings and considerations signed and facilitated.
With the world now focused on the UAE, Expo 2020 gave the region a much-needed boost following the economic chaos created by the pandemic. Reanda UAE, after sluggish business conditions during the pandemic, saw an influx of capital and opportunities for owners and entrepreneurs in 2021. This has helped the UAE boost its trustworthiness and reputation as a global platform for trade and investment.
Other major highlights of 2021:
1. Biggest legislative reforms in UAE history
The UAE introduced wide-ranging reforms covering over 40 laws in the country. These changes were made to ensure that the nation not only supports change but establishes itself as a leader in reforming laws to ensure greater competitiveness as the ideal place for investment and residence. The changes varied from laws that govern economic matters, investments, and commercial opportunities to criminal laws, including those pertaining to live-in relationships.
The UAE has made substantial reforms to support SMEs, provide access to finance, and create a favorable business environment that encourages entrepreneurs and startups. With the easing of norms, the UAE economy has further burnished its reputation as a haven for foreign investment, attracting investors, entrepreneurs, and other talented personnel. These changes have garnered increased interest in the UAE, which will certainly bring greater future opportunities for Reanda UAE.
2. Year of Compliance
2021 was a year of compliance in which companies based in the UAE were required to identify, assess, and file their UBO (Ultimate Beneficial Ownership) information with their relevant registering authority or regulator.
Apart from that, companies based in the UAE need to assess if they have a relevant activity under the relevant regulations, and if economic substance regulations (ESR) apply. Companies with relevant activities related to the definitions defined in the ESR are required to submit an ESR filing.
In addition, the UAE issued new guidelines and financial sanctions to strengthen anti-money laundering (AML) activities to ensure higher adherence to AML Within the country. AMLregulations require real estate agents, gold dealers, auditors, company service providers and others to be registered in the government database in order to increase screening of risk transactions and to combat financing of illegal activities and terrorism.
3. Real Estate Investments in UAE
The UAE real estate sector saw a rapid recovery during the second half of 2021, recording high growth from the pandemic lows. The government’s guidance during the pandemic and Expo 2020 Dubai, as we’ll as new visa reforms including the ‘Golden Visa’ programme, were just some of the key drivers that boosted the country’s property market. According to published data, the UAE has a higher rental return compared to other countries and boasts a monetary conversion edge when changing AED to USD.
Reanda UAE welcomed new clients from different nations who have demonstrated a deep interest in settling down and investing in the real estate market in the UAE.
4. 100% Business Ownership in UAE
Among its many other legislative reforms, the UAE has enforced a new regulation that permits 100% foreign ownership of specific onshore companies. Previously, expat business proprietors were restricted to owning only up to 49% of their companies. The remaining 51% would have to belong to a UAE national also known as an Emirati sponsor or partner.
The ‘Golden Visa,’ as is aptly named, representing the future of business, is a long-term 10-year visa issued to individuals based on specific criteria and is designed to promote long-term residence in the UAE. Developed in 2019, it is a remarkable programme for international investors, which enables them to stay in Dubai legally and secure the future for their families and their businesses. The Golden Visa scheme was launched to support, draw, and retain top talents across multiple sectors. Investors, entrepreneurs, business owners, professionals, and specialised talents are eligible to apply.
5. World rankings
The UAE has consistently been ranked among the top countries in the world for achieving the highest standards in all aspects from the safety of women and transparency in the government sector to its favourable passport index.
The UAE has also topped the Bloomberg rankings as the safest place to live in the entire world, with 95% of residents feeling secure to walk alone at night. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, the UAE Government is among the most trusted in the world and received worldwide praise for its handling of the pandemic and vaccinating 100% of its eligible residents. The UAE passport was also ranked first globally for achieving the highest mobility score by offering visa-free access to 98+ countries and visas on arrival to 54 countries.
UAE has ranked first globally on the ‘Absence of Bureaucracy’ and second on the ‘Adaptability of Government Policy’ indicators, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.
6. Reanda UAE Vision for 2022
Following the announcement of the federal corporate tax on businesses in the UAE effective for the financial years beginning on or after 1st June 2023, Reanda UAE plans to capitalise on this and build up its tax advisory wing.
The new corporate tax was initiated to follow the OECD framework and ensure adherence to international norms. The corporate tax provides for improved economic movement and is anticipated to produce nearly 300,000 new jobs in Dubai and throughout the entire UAE while drawing an entirely new skill pool of talent. It will also ensure adherence of global company financial statements to internationally accepted standards.
Reanda UAE takes pride in announcing their vision to expand Reanda UAE chapters further by establishing a branch in the DMCC free zone and DIFC free zone by the end of the year 2022. With this expansion the firm will make a further addition to their Board of Directors, welcoming Ms. Snigdha Jagetiya B.Com, ACA, ACCA, ex-KPMG, who will help develop the Tax and Finance Department.