UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Entrepreneur friendly and a dynamic business environment
Dubai is one of seven Emirates that comprise the UAE (United Arab Emirates). It is the most populous city in the UAE and is located on the Persian Gulf.
Dubai is a high-growth services led economy with a strong focus on its status as the key trading hub of the Middle East. This is reflected in the fact that the oil industry only contributes 6% to Dubai’s GDP.
According to the index of Human Development World Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2011 the UAE ranks 30th among 187 countries. Dubai’s population is largely dominated by expatriates. The Al Maktoum dynasty has ruled Dubai since 1833. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the present ruler of Dubai, is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE.
In 1971 the UAE attained membership in the United Nations and the Arab League. The UAE is also a member of other organizations including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (AGCC). Federal laws of the UAE are applicable to Dubai and all other Emirates. However each Emirate enjoys certain exclusive rights and significant autonomy in managing their internal affairs.
The legal system in Dubai is based on civil law principles with a strong influence of Egyptian law and Islamic Sharia law. The increase in the number of regional as well as global organizations in Dubai over the past 30 years has necessitated the establishment of comprehensive federal legislation in the form of federal codes of law which deal with all fundamental legal principles.
Dubai has its own independent courts which function independently from the UAE Federal Judicial Authority.
Some notable developments in the law and regulation in Dubai has been the formation of several Free Trade Zones in Dubai, the most well-known being the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) the Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Media City. The free zones offer an encouraging business environment for foreign entities by allowing them 100% ownership, various tax concessions, relief from import duties and currency restrictions. The free zones incentivize international organizations to set up businesses in Dubai.
There are no corporate, federal or income taxes levied in the UAE. (A local income tax was introduced in 1969 in Dubai under the Dubai Income Tax Ordinance but was not implemented). Restrictions on foreign trade in Dubai is minimum. VAT and sales tax have a reduced rate of 5%. Exchange control on repatriation of capital and remittance of profits also do not exist.
In recognition of the need for good corporate governance practices, the Hawkamah Corporate Governance Institute was established. The corporate governance practices have been aligned with global practices. Dubai’s emphasis on transparency, good corporate governance practices and anti-money laundering practices is a motivator for foreign direct investments.