Newsletter March 2022

Dear Friends and Clients,

There is war in Europe again. That should make us think. The millions who have to leave their homes should be a warning to us. The philosophy that it takes chaos to create order may be correct, but the question is how humans deal with the concept of chaos.

We call ourselves homo sapiens. Translated it should mean: humans who are wise or sagacious.

This raises doubts.

The Swedish biologist Carolus Linnaeus first used this term in 1758 for the species of humans to which we supposedly belong.

It should be obvious to wise thinking mechanisms that people can only change themselves and that if one is dissatisfied with a situation, one should first think of one’s own change. To bring about change by force seems to correspond to human nature, but it shows the gap between the self-designation as sapiens and the darker aspects of the human beings. Wisdom and compassion are not only the 2 pillars of an Asian religion, but also reflect in  Goethe’s “Mankind be noble, helpful and just …” and the Categorical Imperative formulated by Kant: “Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”.

We can only hope that the “wisdom” of our Eastern European decision-makers will influence their maxims of the actions.

Sorry for this unusual introduction, but it is also an unusual time.

Now to the latest news:

It is no wonder that the UAE was ranked 1 in the Global Economic Index. The UAE is certainly one of the most progressive and modern business-oriented countries in the world. New laws are published almost monthly that are reminiscent of the European legal machinery.  There is probably no other Islamic country that can come up with such modern and tolerant laws. For us lawyers, of course, a young developing country with a great deal of legal freedom is a nice playground for deliberations.

However, in the almost 17 years of our work as lawyers in this country, the UAE has developed into a legally well-founded modern state in which the codification of continental European civil law occupies the broadest space for private and business everyday life.

Remarkable, however, are the enclaves of the DIFC and ADGM, in which completely different legal norms based on Anglo-Saxon common law apply. This duality is unique in the world. The entrepreneur has the choice of which legal system he wants to establish his company under.

The introduction of the 9 per cent corporate income tax in June 2023 is causing headaches for some businesspeople. Especially since free zones will also be affected by this tax if these free zone companies sell or invoice to customers within the UAE. It remains to be seen how the free zones will keep their written promises of 20 or even 50 years of tax exemption. With the introduction of 100% ownership in mainland companies, free zone companies have become less attractive. It is possible that this will be compensated for by the exemption provisions of the new corporate tax law. However, mainland companies should also be exempt from corporate tax if they make their profits by supplying goods or services to non-UAE customers. So far, not even the concrete text of the law is available, let alone the implementing provisions.

The Far East is slowly recovering from the Covid crisis. Quarantines are being shortened or dropped altogether, Thailand has reintroduced test & go, businesses and tourists are coming back.

Cambodia is the first to take off in ASEAN. There are no longer any entry restrictions, demand for company formation is increasing in our Asian branches. Cambodia offers 100% foreign owned companies, no need for a local director, opening of bank accounts within 48 hours, strong economic growth, extremely foreigner-friendly environment. I will join the Trade Mission of the Austrian chamber of commerce  to Thailand and Cambodia from Mai 9-13. The focus will be on “GreenTech Solutions for ASEAN”, but of course all other information on these countries can also be obtained.

Myanmar is also reopening its doors. Entry requirements are being relaxed, a path to normality seems to be emerging.

When deciding where your next location and possibly also your further residence will be, consider whether the Middle East or the Far East is most suitable for you.


Theodor Strohal

Office News:

Jakob Kisser, was asked by Forbes to share his thoughts on the legendary WYNN opening its doors in Ras Al Khaimah. Check out the full article here.

“Dual residence in accordance with the DTA Austria – UAE” Webinar

For those who were not able to attend our recent webinar on “Dual residence in accordance with the DTA Austria – UAE”, you may view the presentation on this link. If you have further questions regarding this matter, please contact us at

Updates on RAKEZ Co-working Entrepreneur Packages

SMEs at RAKEZ now get a free residence visa, along with exclusive benefits, a choice of workspaces, and a lifetime discount of up to 40%! The new offer is valid on several license types such as: Commercial, Services, E-commerce, Media, and Educational licenses. Main benefits include:
• Online signing of Memorandum of Association
• Multiple business activities available
• 0% easy payment plan with banking partners
• Selections of workstations & offices

Al Hamra to invest AED 1 billion on development campaigns

Al Hamra has outlined an ambitious five-year (2023-2027) roadmap for driving sustained growth through strategic developments, in accordance with the vision of Ras Al Khaimah’s leadership to develop the Emirate into one of the world’s leading investments, business, residential, and tourism destinations. Recently, Al Hamra sold its 27,000 sqm Al Hamra Mall to Aldar Properties PJSC (Aldar) for AED410 million. A successful sale of this property demonstrates Ras Al Khaimah’s enormous growth potential as a retail and tourism hub in the UAE, enhanced by the presence of an attractive demographic profile and a large market.

TDRA launches “UAE Verify”

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) launched a new platform called “UAE Verify”. It uses blockchain technology, which is a shared immutable real-time ledger for recording the history of financial transactions, contracts, and different documents. It allows government and private entities to verify the authenticity of digital documents issued by government authorities on an immediate basis and without the need for original hard copy or true copy. The platform also allows users to convert their documents to authenticated digital documents with a high level of privacy and security.

UAE ranks first in Global Economic Index 2022

UAE ranked 1st globally in GEM’s 2021/2022 Global Report. According to the report, the UAE has the highest total score by a clear margin, having improved in 11 of the 13 framework conditions since 2020, and scoring highest of all 47 economies in four of them. Coming from 4th place last year, the Emirates scored high rates as well in several indicators such as:
• availability of good opportunities to start a business;
• the availability of skills, knowledge, and experience to start a business;
• confidence in the ability to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19;
• plans to use digital technology to develop business; and
• the ability of entrepreneurship projects in the country to generate new job opportunities in the coming years.

UAE-Hungary Business Council to be established

UAE Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Hungarian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai regarding the establishment of a business council between the two countries. The council will focus on agriculture, tourism, construction, health, and education, which will create more opportunities for investment and partnership.

Expo 2020 to transform into District 2020

Expo 2020 is set to transform into District 2020. The transition process will be carried out in phases over nine months after Expo 2020 ends on March 31. The major attractions of the site will remain open to visitors throughout the reconstruction period. District 2020 will be a new urban development in the UAE and the region to focus on curating a global innovation ecosystem and an integrated community lifestyle. District 2020 will be composed of commercial and office spaces, Scale2Dubai – a launchpad for start-ups and small businesses, modern urban living, and a vibrant community with events, attractions, retail stores, outdoor spaces, restaurants, etc. Businesses will be provided with collaborative and shared working spaces with advanced physical and digital infrastructure. District 2020 offers a competitive free zone structure – full autonomy, set up and licensing support, free zone advantages including zero percent corporate and personal tax (with the exception of VAT), one hundred percent foreign ownership, dual licensing, and repatriation of capital.

Another attraction launched in RAK’s Jebel Jais

Jais Sledder is the region’s longest toboggan ride. The ride takes 8 minutes which offers a good view of the mountains. Its speed could go up to 40 kilometers per hour and the ticket price starts from AED 40. Other attractions in Jebel Jais include the Jebel Jais Flight and Jebel Jais Skytour.

Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon: supports RAK’s strategic development plans

The ruler of Ras Al Khaimah announced at the recent Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon that Ras Al Khaimah is taking deliberate steps to enhance its reputation as a leading destination for hosting the most important sports competitions. Consolidating community sports events is part of Ras Al Khaimah’s strategic development plans to offer a healthy lifestyle for all members of society, and to encourage people to strive for more success and accomplishments. The Ruler also lauded the great importance of this event in strengthening the civilized and progressive image of Ras Al Khaimah, hailing its stature as a prospering destination for working, living, tourism, and investment for people in the emirate and across the country.

Dubai adopts first Virtual Asset Regulation Law

Dubai adopted its first Virtual Asset Regulation Law. The provisions of this law are applicable throughout the Emirate, including special development zones and free zones, except for the Dubai International Financial Centre. The new law seeks to protect investors and establish a framework of international standards for virtual asset (VA) industry governance to promote responsible business growth.

The Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority will oversee the development of the business environment for virtual assets in terms of regulation, licensing, and governance. It is prohibited for any person to engage in activities without VARA authorization. Those who are willing to practice any of the VA activities must establish a presence in the UAE.

Activities subject to the authorization and control of the authority:
• Operating and managing virtual assets platforms
• Exchange services between virtual assets and currencies
• Exchange services between one or more forms of virtual assets
• Virtual asset transfer services
• Virtual asset custody and management services
• Virtual asset management services.

The Virtual Asset Regulation Law will come into force from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.

DIFC launches artificial intelligence and coding license

The Dubai International Financial Centre in cooperation with UAE Artificial Intelligence Office has launched an AI and coding license. License holders will have access to the DIFC Innovation Hub, the largest cluster of FinTech and innovation companies in the region. The license also offers employees who work for these companies the opportunity to apply for UAE Golden Visas.

UAE’s recovery and growth in 2021

A recent announcement by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) reported that the percentage of work permits issued to private companies has increased by 53% from 2020 to 2021. About 1.5 million work permits have been issued, confirming the effectiveness of the UAE’s plans and strategies to improve the national economy and enhance the attractiveness of the country’s labor market. This growth affirms the UAE’s position as a global destination for attracting talents and skills.

Bahrain announces permanent residency golden visas

Bahrain launches its golden residency visa for residents and non-residents. Among the goals of the new 10-year visa, is to attract investors and businesses and to provide quality opportunities for Bahrainis. This program is also a way to reward existing residents who have contributed significantly to Bahrain’s economy and society over many years.

Criteria for Eligibility:
• Retired (not residing in Bahrain) from Bahrain or any country in the world earning a basic salary not less than BD 4,000; or
• Owner of properties in Bahrain with total value not less than BD 200,000 when the properties were purchased; or
• Talented individuals  nominated by a government agency in certain fields; or
• An employee working in Bahrain for no less than 5 years with an average salary not less than BD 2,000 in the past 5 years; or
• Retired in Bahrain, resident in the Kingdom for no less than 5 years with an average salary not less than BD 2,000 in the past 5 years.

In addition to granting them work authorization, visa holders also get multiple entry and exit rights from the kingdom as well as residence rights for close family members.

Far East:

9% GST hike in Singapore

The government of Singapore is raising taxes on the wealthy and increasing other taxes, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST), in order to regain its finances after the coronavirus outbreak. GST is expected to rise from 7% to 8% in 2023, and to 9% in 2024. Singapore’s Finance Minister is hoping to restructure its finances so that it can face long-term challenges, including health costs and rising social spending as the local workforce ages.

Elite Card Programme in Thailand to offer a work permit

Thailand plans to attract investment from international professionals through the Thailand Elite Card program, which offers a work permit. On Jan 6, the Royal Gazette published privileges for cardholders of the Flexible Plus program, including a change in the Privilege Entry Visa to a non-B visa and a five-year work permit. Cardholders receive privileges if they apply for one of three types of cards worth 1 or 2 million baht and invest at least US$1 million in either real estate, a limited company or a public company, or the stock exchange. With the Thailand Privilege Card, members will be able to utilize exclusive services while in Thailand, such as concierge assistance at airport immigration fast lanes, limousine transfers, golf, spa, and personal liaisons.

Cambodia reviews draft National Intellectual Property policy

The government of Cambodia is reviewing its draft National Intellectual Property Policy to make the legal instrument more comprehensive and in-depth. In this way, the policy can guide the development in Cambodia of a stronger system of intellectual property protection, to better protect and attract investors, and to stimulate job creation and product research. The policy is designed with the vision to develop the Cambodian IP system into a driving force for economic, commercial, industrial, cultural, tourism, and agricultural development.

Cambodia and EU reaffirms commitment to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties

During the 11th Joint Committee Meeting on March 10-11, Cambodia and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties. Among the topics also discussed in the meeting were economic recovery measures, bilateral trade and investment relations, as well as the temporary partial withdrawal of EU trade preferences under the EBA (Everything But Arms) program. The two parties also committed to further strengthening their cooperation to ensure that Cambodia’s investment climate remains open, competitive, and conducive to sustainable socio-economic development.

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