SLG Newsletter: December 2018

Dear Friends and Clients,

2018 is over, welcome 2019! It reminds me of the old saying: “The king is dead, long live the king!”

Time is an illusion, as the Asian philosophy says. We all create our world with our mind, and time is part of this creation. With this view we not only follow Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Representation) but also Plato (The Cave Allegory) or the more modern philosophers of the radical constructivism.

But what difference does it make to realize that we are creating time in our mind? This knowledge helps and distinguishes whether time manages and dominates us or whether we ourselves are master of time.

So, when we look back at the year just past, how often did we manage this? How often have we had to admit that “we do not have time” for something that was necessary to do?

It means the older you get; the faster time goes by. That is probably a mirage. Only in the last 2 decades of my almost 70 years of life have I learned to see the moments for what they are. Not worthy, or ephemeral, but every moment as a gift of time that I created myself.

And so I look forward to a great deal of confidence in next year, which is also because years, months, weeks and days are an invention by us human, if only to be adapted to the natural process.

I can only invite you to follow this Illusion of time, and simply realise that this phenomenon is not a rigid abstract structure, but flexible, malleable and adaptable. Just try to shape your own time and get it under control. You will see how much more livable life has become and how easy it is to make the right decisions in your day to day business.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!


Theodor Strohal

List of sectors for foreign investment is expected in 1st quarter of 2019

By the first quarter of 2019, the UAE government will be publishing a list of positive sectors for foreign ownership of up to 100 %, as told by the economy minister. There are three categories of sectors and economic activities as per the provisions of the newly implemented law, according to the Federal Law by Decree No. (19) of 2018 regarding Foreign Direct Investment. Firstly, the sectors that are open for foreign direct investments will be known as the ‘Positive List’ which comprises of sectors and activities approved by the UAE Cabinet and obtainable by a foreign investor up to 100%. Secondly, sectors limited to national investment will be known as the ‘Negative List’ which contains services of a special nature and other activities that may possibly have a negative effect on the national companies that carry out the same activity. The sectors lists are subject to deletion or addition, based on a decision issued by the UAE Cabinet. Lastly, as per the law, which the UAE Cabinet can give an approval for an FDI project in the sectors not included in the Positive List only if requested by the local government and recommended by the Investment Committee.

Agreement between the UAE and Hungary

The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Frink Miklosi, First Vice-President of the Hungarian Chamber, is impressed by the UAE’s development and expressed his country’s hope of inviting companies and investors from the UAE to invest in Hungary in the future. The MoU states the commitment of the two parties to support the economic and commercial cooperation of both countries, by exchanging expertise, endorsing commercial relations and discussing investment opportunities, as well as strengthening commercial and investment partnerships in various economic sectors. Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, First Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighted the importance of developing economic ties between the two countries and reinforcing their commercial cooperation, as well as the signing of the MoU, which will create important investment opportunities for the private sector, serve the interests of both countries, and promote cooperation.

Abu Dhabi courts: Introducing compulsory English translations

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has introduced a new rule in which complainants in civil and commercial cases involving non-Arabic speaking defendants will have to translate case files into English. All court documents are currently in Arabic and require the defendants to get a translation of each page which can be a very costly process. The move of the ADJD aims to boost foreign commercial investment in Abu Dhabi by reducing risk and increasing the trust of the investors in the justice system. Abu Dhabi courts are the first in the region to implement English as an official second language, and only the third globally according to the undersecretary of ADJD.

Dubai: New immigration office in Dubai Silicon Oasis

A new immigration office will be set up at Dubai Silicon Oasis. The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) and the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) have signed an MoU to enhance its services to investors, entrepreneurs, start-ups and other entities to help them develop their businesses. Major General Al Merri, director general of GDRFA said, “Our agreement is one way of bringing entities together and joining ventures to achieve the UAE’s Strategy and Vision 2021. We hope to build an attractive ecosystem and innovative work environment for creative entrepreneurs and rising businesses that will make Dubai a home for their operations. We continue to join efforts to develop a generation of leaders that will build the future of the UAE”. Dr Mohammad Al Zarouni, Vice-Chairman and CEO of DSOA, mentioned that, “We continue to work towards DSO’s strategy to become the first integrated smart city in Dubai while proactively looking to gain valuable expertise from other renowned entities. Such partnerships are crucial to DSOA and its business partners for they ease the operations of existing businesses and makes it more attractive for investors, entrepreneurs, and startups to establish their creative and commercial projects at our integrated hi-tech park”.

Dubai introduces new freelance work permits

Dubai Internet City has introduced a new freelance permit, known as GoFreelance, for workers in the technology sector. The freelance package cost is at AED 7,500 per year which will already give access to the business center and a permit. Ammar Al Malik, managing director of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City said, “There is no doubt that independence breeds and encourages creativity and innovation. The technology landscape in Dubai is evolving at breathtaking speed. It is imperative that businesses keep up with the pace at which technology is now being developed and consumed. In order to stay relevant, competitive and profitable, businesses need to ensure that they operate with flexible business model, one that embraces the concept of freelance talent. GoFreelance is one such solution that businesses can take advantage of to keep up with the constant demand for talent.” Technology professionals in the following domains are eligible to apply for freelance package: web, mobile, software, development and architecture, IT and telecommunication networking, data science and analytics and customer services as well as stakeholders providing technical support and related services. The freelancers will have the flexibility to choose the company they work with, the projects they work on and manage their own schedule.

New rule for ATM and credit card transactions in UAE

A circular issued by the Central Bank of the UAE advised banks and finance entities to request their customers submit their Emirates ID by February 28, 2019 to avoid suspension of their debit and credit card services. Customers will no longer be able to withdraw funds or make transactions by direct debit after the deadline but can be able to withdraw money directly at the bank’s branch counter. Services will be back to normal only after they submit their Emirates IDs. After 3 months of non-compliance, the cards will be fully suspended.

Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah given top accolade at UAE awards

The Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah has been given the Visionary Leader of the Year award at the Arabian Business Magazine Awards ceremony. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr as Qassimi thanked the leaders of the UAE and the people of Ras Al Khaimah, both locals and expatriates, for making that emirate a “fantastic place to live, work and visit”. Furthermore, the Sheikh added, “I thank the leadership of the UAE, who have created a safe and prosperous home for people from across the globe. Without their vision, the UAE would not be the great country it is today”. Ras Al Khaimah is known to have 15,000 businesses, with up to 37,000 companies from 100 countries having trade licenses and an emirate rated ‛A’ by international rating agencies. Sheikh Saud also sees potential in the emirate’s tourism sector which increased 14 percent this year.

UAE set to launch scheme to combat cigarette tax evasion

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Federal Tax Authority (FTA), has approved the decision concerning the implementation of the Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme. The new law will be implemented against all cigarettes by January 1, 2019 whether sourced locally or imported. The rule will later on be applied to other tobacco products. The decision also states that starting May 1, 2019, unmarked goods will not be permitted in the UAE. By August 1, 2019, it will no longer be allowed to supply unmarked goods. The marks that will be placed on the packaging of tobacco products will be registered in the database of the FTA and can only be determined by special devices used by FTA inspectors. The main purpose of the decision is to avoid tax evasion. Businesses and companies who will not comply with the new law will be given penalties, which may include getting banned from trading until they comply with the law.

The Far East

UAE seeks to invest in Cambodia

Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook bin Juma al-Maktoum, visited the Minister of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Suy Sem. The UAE expressed its interest in Cambodian Oil and Gas exploration. No agreements have been made but the two countries committed on reporting regarding the sector’s development. Sheikh Ahmed met the Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh and swore to provide a $500 million credit line for Cambodia for the importation of goods from Arab countries.

Myanmar: Leader calls for more foreign investment

State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, called on foreign businesses to invest in what she called “the last frontier of South-east Asia”. There are many opportunities in agriculture, fishery, education and healthcare sectors. She had the opportunity to talk at the two-day conference organised annually by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council on the sidelines of the main ASEAN Summit in Singapore. Ms Suu Kyi’s goal is to form a reformist government that can attract foreign investors but her administration is currently affected by several issues especially that of the Rohingya minority. She is currently the minister for both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the President’s Office Ministry, and her roles include chair, vice chair and membership in 16 committees covering the peace process, Rakhine issues, economy, rule of law, citizenship and international relations.

Since we can call ourselves insiders in Myanmar economic development, one thing to be added: There was no country in history that could achieve democracy within a few years after a decades-long dictatorship. So give Myanmar time to develop. It took Indonesia from 1945 to 1989 to achieve a real democracy. Why should it happen in 5 years in Myanmar? If you keep your footprint there and your business open even on a low scale, you will be rewarded when the time comes.

Myanmar: New ministry to help investors do business

The establishment of the new Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations has been approved which will help improve coordination between related companies and organizations on both local and foreign investment and development projects managed by foreign aid or loans. The investors will be able to process everything in a single-window system wherein they will be able to complete all necessary procedures in one transaction. Myanmar has raised its efforts in drawing investments and making the processes faster and more convenient for investors.

Singapore: New moneylending regulations to protect borrowers:

The Moneylenders (Amendment) Act of 2018 was passed by the Parliament last 8 January 2018 and the Ministry of Law started to implement the first phase on 30 November 2018 to further provide protection for borrowers and strengthen the regulation of licensed moneylenders. The second phase of execution will be in the first quarter of 2019 which is about professionalising the moneylending industry. The aggregate loan caps will be introduced and will help limit the amount that a person can borrow from all registered moneylenders combined. It will only apply to a holder of a Work Pass, Dependent’s Pass, Student Pass and Long Term Visit Pass.

Borrower’s annual income Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents Foreigners residing in Singapore
Less than $10,000  


At least $10,000 and less than $20,000 $3,000
At least $20,000 6 times monthly income 6 times monthly income
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