The United Arab Emirates (‘UAE’) consists of seven Emirates, namely, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. The economy of the UAE has diversified to becoming a regional and global centre for business, trade and finance. Due to its advantageous location, the UAE has become the major international centre of, inter alia, banking, commerce, manufacturing and modern logistics. In particular, Dubai has become a prime business destination for a variety of sectors. Its economy has gained momentum over the last few years, while the successful Dubai Expo 2020 bid is predicted to assist in increasing foreign direct investment.
The UAE legal system is based on both civil code principles and on the Islamic Shari’a Law. The allocation of powers between federal government and the government of each Emirate is permitted by the UAE federal constitution. Consequently, the local government of each Emirate is permitted to regulate local matters that are not subject to federal legislation. As such, each Emirate retain significant powers to regulate commercial activities, register and incorporate corporate entities and issue trade licenses to the extent that such activity is not regulated under federal legislation.
With reference to what has already been indicated, the UAE could be an attractive hub for investors to locate their business interests for the following reasons:
- There is no corporate and income taxes, no exchange control restrictions and it is possible to have unrestricted repatriation of income and capital;
- It is amongst the most liberal trade regimes in the Gulf region and attracts strong capital flows from across the region;
- It focuses on economic diversification in trade, logistics, banking, tourism, real estate and manufacturing and provides opportunities in various industries;
- Has a well-established infrastructure, strong banking system and a stable political system;
- It provides for a window of free trade zones that can allow 100% foreign ownership and a nil taxation regime;
- It provides a favourable tax environment for most industries; and
- It provides a safe and secure family environment with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.