Dubai gov proposes fee waivers, mortgage law, SME incentives to boost economy

Businesses in the emirate have been tackling increased costs and lower economic sentiment in recent years



Dubai has called on government departments to put together a comprehensive reform package with the aim of boosting business confidence and economic growth, according to reports.

The plans follow a decision last month to freeze government fees for the next three years as businesses in the country absorb higher costs linked to the introduction of a 5 per cent value added tax.

Read: Dubai says won’t raise government fees for three years

Read: UAE inflation jumps with VAT but restrained by housing

Gulf News reports that the proposals include the allocation of 20 per cent of government contracts to small and medium enterprises, developing a low-cost family tourism offering through timeshares and enacting a mortgage law to revive the city’s real estate market after a recent slump.

Read: Dubai property rents down up to 5% in Q1, similar slump expected in Q2

Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) director general Sami Al Qamzi told the publication that the emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had launched an initiative to reduce the “cost of doing business” in Dubai and “facilitate inward investment”.

“The directives also show the leadership’s keenness in dealing constructively with all local and international economic variables and seize new investment and development opportunities towards creating a stronger economy, more efficient environment and improved work mechanisms to provide everyone with an advanced, high quality living,” he was quoted as saying.

In its most recent Dubai economy tracker for March, local bank Emirates NBD said its purchasing managers’ index (PMI) score for the non-oil private sector was down from 55.8 in February to 55.3 – the lowest score in three months. A score of above 50 indicates growth and below 50 a contraction.

During March, the bank noted that the workforce shrank for the first time in 13 months, with squeezed margins taking their toll on employment. Business confidence also hit a seven-month low but remained positive overall.

Initiatives being implemented by the DED include exempting businesses from fines and trade violations, allowing fees to be paid in instalments, reducing operational costs in the retail sector, supporting local production and procurement and attracting and promoting the best start-ups, according to Gulf News.

The publication also outlined proposals from other government departments:

Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

The emirate’s tourism department has proposed the collecting of fees from three and four-star hotels on a half-year basis, the attracting of 1,000 emerging companies and making 10 per cent of the 10 million annual transit passengers travelling through Dubai’s airports into tourists.

Read: UAE moves ahead with transit visa policy

It is also seeking to boost family tourism from 70,000 to 150,000 annually through timeshares and encourage tourists in general to visit for longer periods and more frequently.

Dubai World Trade Centre

The exhibition centre has proposed attracting more foreign investment, particularly from Southeast Asia, and the strengthening of Dubai International Financial Centre.

Dubai Land Department

The real estate regulator wants to develop a mortgage and finance law to revitalise investment in the real estate sector.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The business body wants to reduce the cost of doing business by reviewing fees and laws to reduce the burden on companies. It has also proposed the establishment of a consultative council with participation from international companies to shape changes to legislative policy and boost Dubai’s competitiveness.

The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre

The authority in charge of development of Dubai’s Islamic economy wants to improve the sukuk market, increase sukuk issuance and listing in Dubai, develop new platforms for retail sukuk and a secondary sukuk market for SMEs.

Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation

The customs body wants to conduct pre-customs clearance deals and an approved operator system, to reduce the time required for foreign trade procedures and boost foreign trade in general to around Dhs27bn ($7.35bn).

It has also proposed the establishment of an aluminium derivatives complex to draw international companies operating in the sector.

Dubai South

The emirate’s southern aviation zone wants to establish a specialised centre to register private aircraft, exempt private planes from prior permits to land and offer a package of private aircraft incentives.

Dubai Free Zones Council

The body of economic zones wants e-commerce regulation to be put into force and new conditions and controls to attract international companies and encourage them to set up in Dubai and its free zones.