Pam King Sams
Why investors are increasingly choosing to make the UAE home.
Positive reforms and regulations are attracting people in numbers to stay for longer.
The introduction of financial regulations and reforms over the past 12 months, coupled with its handling of the coronavirus crisis, has helped make the UAE a “model country” for people to come and live, work and invest in, according to a group of panelists speaking at the inaugural Arabian Business Money Forum.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE passed a number of landmark reforms, amending laws on inheritance, bounced cheques and bankruptcies. The country also providede substantial economic support, on top of initiatives such as the retirement visa, remote working visa and the 10-year golden visa.
Yann Mrazek, managing partner, M-HQ, said: “For many years, a lot of people were coming and going to the UAE to generate money. Today, you're seeing Gen 1 entrepreneurs come here to go global.”
He added: “You only have a couple of jurisdictions that say 'come here, we can help you go global' like the UAE.”
Mrazek was speaking as part of a panel of experts discussing the subject ‘Securing your wealth in a changing world’, which covered a wide variety of topics including estate planning, citizenship and tax.
Yann Mrazek, managing partner, M-HQ
He was joined by Mark Schofield, partner, Tax and Legal Services, PWC Middle East, who said the UAE’s removal from the European Union’s Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation’s blacklist in 2019, added to the attraction of the country.
And he agreed that the days of people moving to Dubai for the traditional two-or-three-year period are drawing to a close as more decide to put down roots and call the emirate home.
He said: “We're starting to see more attractive options for people to come here and be based in the UAE for five or 10 years. I think it's a really interesting time in the development of the economy. I think it goes to the heart of the country’s diversification, away from hydrocarbons.”
He added: "This new generation of people want to be here long-term and that excites me enormously."
The UAE has been praised globally for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, with initial quick actions taken in the form of strict lockdowns, closures and curfews, with a gradual reopening within stringent health and safety parameters.
The country is also leading the way in terms of its vaccine rollout, with over eight million doses administered to date and a new manufacturing plant set to produce the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, scheduled to open in the coming months.
Mohammed Asaria, Range Developments, who completed the panel, said it all added up to an attractive country, which he admitted he moved to initially just for six months, but after 15 years he revealed he is in the process of setting up a small development company.
He said: “If you look at the way the country has operated over the last 12 months, I don't think there's anyone in this room who could fault the way that this country has handled the Covid pandemic. Most of us are expats, none of us have been discriminated against.
“I think it's become a model country to live in and that's attracting some of the talent but not just the people coming for three years or three to six years, but some very high-net-worth individuals have come in, they've set up their family offices, and then that will see the next level of individuals coming in, CEOs, their senior managers and then that will trickle down through the economy.”
Earlier this year it was announced by neighbouring Saudi Arabia that global companies looking to win government contracts will require to have their regional headquarters based in the kingdom by 2023. And while Schofield said they were “starting to see a real war on talent”, Mrazek said the move would benefit both countries and the entire region.
“I think when you have a couple of players that are much more dynamic than others, it brings the market up, there is competition, it's driving this region as a whole,” he said.
While Asaria believed the UAE would still be a focal point for inward investors and investment.
He said: “I don't think [Saudi] provides the same facilities that the UAE does, so I can see in the next three to five years, I’m very bullish, people at the highest level coming in, and I think that's really going to keep the wheels of the economy turning, quickly.”