Newsletter September 2022

Dear Friends and Clients,

It is interesting to read that Arab youth have already chosen the UAE as their favorite country for 11 years.  Ultimately, it is the youth, who will shape our future and on whom we must build when in our advanced years we can only look back rather than forward. Is it our obligation to retreat in essential decision-making at our age? Or have we rather longed back contentedly as the world powers are ever ruled by “wise old men”? The average age of the leaders of the world powers China, Russia, and the USA is 69.

But already in Plato’s “The Republic” Plato propagates a rule of “philosopher kings”. Only the philosopher could know the truth and be a wise and just ruler. Education begins at the age of 20 and should last 50 years and cover all fields of knowledge. Our world-dominating leaders would meet this requirement in Plato’s view – at least as far as age is concerned.

But away from politics, which in the meantime harasses us almost daily. And we can hardly get around it if we want to make responsible decisions. Do we let them drive us out of our homeland? By threatening the expansion of a European war? By threatening with nuclear terror and contamination? By exploding inflation including multiplication of energy costs? Or do we sit it out, whatever the cost? The recommendation of establishing a 2nd or 3rd “leg” was made several times at this point.

As a deep admirer of Jean-Paul Sartre, I came into contact with existential philosophy at an early age. Sartre’s core sentence “Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself” has been formative for my life until today. But the present situation rather fits another work of Sartre’s: The stage play “NO EXIT”. “Hell is Other People.” That’s actually the most famous line from this play, where three characters arrive in Hell. They’re expecting flames and pitchforks, but instead, they’re shown into a plain ordinary room – and then gradually discover that this is where they’ll be spending eternity. Alone, together. This is where that famous line comes in. You can interpret it in a lot of different ways, with or without reflection on the present situation.  I leave it up to your imagination.

Theodor Strohal

Office News:

SLG advises Erich Erber on USD 40M investment into Sterner Group AS

Jakob Kisser, Managing Partner of Strohal Legal Consultants, UAE, has acted as sole legal advisor to Austrian entrepreneur Erich Erber, founder and owner of SAN Group, in connection with a NOK 350m private placement in Sterner Group AS and NOK 720m post-money valuation.

The hard work on the time-critical transaction has thus paid off for everyone involved, last but not least as the deal marks an important milestone in the expansion of SLG’s M&A business.

Digital lifestyle index ranks UAE among leading countries

The Digital Lifestyle in the UAE 2022 index report indicates that UAE ranked first globally on social media, second globally and first in the Arab region on internet, and ninth globally and first in the Arab region on e-commerce. UAE’s internet usage records at 99 percent compared to 62.5 percent global average. UAE also ranks 13th globally in terms of home internet speed, with the average internet speed in the country reaching 124.7 Mbps compared to the global average of 63.46 Mbps. It is also among the top 10 countries in e-gaming at 90% and also one of the top 10 countries with 11.4% of its population possessing cryptocurrencies.

Arab youth rank UAE as ‘top country to live in’ for 11th consecutive year

According to the annual Arab Youth survey, nearly two-thirds of Arab youth ranks the UAE as the best country to live in for the 11th consecutive year. 57% of Arab men and women chose the UAE as their top choice, the US came second with 24%, followed by 20% from Canada, France with 15%, and Germany with 15%. Having a growing economy, a safe and secure environment, high salaries, and a wide range of job opportunities are the UAE’s key attractions.

Luxury resort and beachfront community soon to be developed in Ras Al Khaimah

A Dhs1bn mixed-use, premium beachfront community and lifestyle destination has been launched on Al Marjan Island by Dubai Investments. The new project Danah Bay will be holding a variety of freehold residential options including two-bedroom townhouses with rooftop terraces, three-bedroom beachfront villas, and four-bedroom beachfront apartments. Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi National Hotels has acquired a prime plot on Al Marjan Island for the development of a 1-million-square-foot resort with 1,000 rooms for Dhs1bn.

Quality infrastructure for sustainable development ranks UAE first in MENA

Quality Infrastructure for Sustainable Development Index 2022 ranked UAE first in the MENA region and 11th globally for quality infrastructure for sustainable development. The index is based on five main indicators: metrology, accreditation, conformity assessment, policy, and standards. As a member of the ‘L group’ of countries (those with a GDP between $100 billion and $1 trillion), the UAE ranked ahead of countries such as Portugal, Singapore, Finland, Denmark, and Belgium. The UAE ranks first in 152 indicators out of 1,502 published by the United Nations and other international organizations.

Ras Al Khaimah joins the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Ras Al Khaimah has been added to UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC). GNLC is an international policy-oriented network providing inspiration, know-how, and best practices. Having been awarded membership, Ras Al Khaimah has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing emirate-wide education outcomes, increasing the use of modern technologies in the learning process, empowering communities, and encouraging a lifelong learning culture, as well as improving the overall quality and excellence of education.

The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority and Planet Tax-Free have launched a digital VAT refund scheme for tourists

As a result of the new paperless solution, retail outlets and the tax refund scheme are integrated electronically, ensuring a seamless digital process for issuing, sending, modifying, and saving invoices for tourists. It is estimated that over 3.5 million traditional paper invoices are expected to become digital, which has a number of positive impacts, including keeping pace with the country’s digital transformation strategy, saving merchants time, and eliminating human error.

New energy agreement between UAE and Germany

Emirates and German officials signed an agreement to accelerate joint energy security, decarbonization, and climate action projects. The new energy security and industry accelerator (ESIA) agreement, anticipates that both countries will explore further opportunities to accelerate growth and collaborate across the hydrogen value chain. As part of the agreement, ADNOC has entered into an agreement with RWE to supply liquified natural gas (LNG) cargo as part of the alliance. Moreover, Masdar has plans to explore offshore wind markets in the North Sea and Baltic Sea in Germany that could produce up to 10GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Far East:

Luxury goods may be subject to a new VAT in Thailand

Finance Ministry is considering introducing a two-tier value-added tax (VAT) rate targeting luxury goods. general goods and services are subject to 7% VAT, with luxury goods subject to a higher rate. According to the study, this system could generate more than 100 billion baht in additional revenue.

Further COVID restrictions in Thailand to ease on October 1

From October 1, visitors will not be required to show their Covid-19 vaccination certificates or test results, and those with mild symptoms will not need to be isolated as announced by Thailand’s Health Minister. People who have no or mild symptoms will no longer need to isolate but will be advised to follow strict measures to keep the disease at bay.

Singapore’s new work visa

Starting in 2023, Singapore will use a points system to evaluate visa applicants based on education, skills, and pay, as well as their nationality’s contribution to diversity similar to the “Compass” system in the UK and Canada. Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) pass holders making at least S$30,000 ($21,300) per month will be granted a five-year visa, a major improvement over the current two-year visa most foreign workers have. As part of the new visa, workers’ dependents are also eligible to seek employment, and athletes, artists, scientists, and academia who do not meet salary requirements are also welcome to apply.

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