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PRO Partner Group Regional News and Updates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Wider UAE, Oman & Qatar

  • Abu Dhabi scraps 20,000 requirements for business set-up to attract investors -

    Abu Dhabi has removed more than 20,000 requirements to set up businesses in the emirate as part of an ongoing overhaul of procedures led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED).

    Twenty-six local and federal partner entities participated in the reductions programme, which amounted to 71 per cent of the total 28,788 requirements previously in place, Added said on Wednesday. The programme was first introduced in August.

    "We are telling the world that Abu Dhabi will continuously seek to enhance its regulations, systems and services making up the ecosystem necessary for any businesses and investors to thrive," said Rashed Al Blooshi, undersecretary of Added.

    Abu Dhabi has taken various measures – such as providing rent rebates, discounts on utility bills and loan guarantee packages – to support businesses and stimulate economic growth throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, Abu Dhabi slashed business set-up fees by 94 per cent in a move to strengthen its position as a destination for new ventures and boost foreign direct investment into the emirate.

    The department reduced its own business licensing requirements for the 118 business activities that it regulates, cutting them by 77 per cent to 162. The Securities and Commodities Authority made 40 cuts to 700 requirements.

    For the full article click here

  • Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala plans healthcare expansion into Dubai -

    Mubadala Health, the integrated healthcare network of Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company, has announced its foray into Dubai for the first time.

    The expansion of Mubadala Health into Dubai is in collaboration with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Ministry of Health & Prevention (MOHAP).

    Mubadala Health said it is committed to a “significant investment” in Dubai’s healthcare sector, starting with the opening of an advanced stand-alone day surgery and medical facility in Jumeirah in the third quarter of 2022.

    The announcement – made during the Arab Health Congress and Exhibition 2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre – will see a new 125,000 square foot facility opening to offer a wide range of in-demand specialties delivered by world-class physicians and medical experts including Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, Healthpoint and Amana Healthcare.

    Services will include gastroenterology, sleep medicine, ENT surgery for adults and pediatrics, rehabilitation, neurology, orthopedics and respiratory medicine services.

    For the full article click here

  • Abu Dhabi stock market will list its first-ever SPAC this year -

    The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange will have its first SPAC listing later in the year. SPACS – or Special Purpose Acquisition Company – has emerged as one of the hottest trends in companies seeking public funds via stock market listings - but not as an IPO.

    Abu Dhabi has become the first financial market in the Gulf to come up with a regulatory framework exclusively to oversee listings by SPAC. The framework was developed by ADX and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development (DED) in conjunction with SCA (Securities and Commodities Authority) as well as legal and investment specialists. It has been benchmarked - and assessed - against US and international SPAC regulations.

    The platform will “provide international investors with access to unique growth opportunities”. There are provisions for SPAC sponsors from outside of the UAE, giving them the ability to apply for approval to list their SPACs on ADX. (As a case in point, the Arabic music streaming service Anghami will soon list on Nasdaq in New York after being acquired by a SPAC. It is the first tech company from the region to list on Nasdaq.)

    The UAE SPAC regulations provide sponsors of a future listing with a "seamless and efficient process" to take companies public.

    Sponsors will be required to raise a minimum of Dh100 million in the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and units sold will comprise warrants that give investors and sponsors the right to convert into shares.

    To protect investors, once the IPO is complete a SPAC must ensure that 90% of proceeds are placed in a non-interest-bearing account.

    For the full article click here

  • Company formation costs in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City Freezone lowered further to encourage new business -

    Companies have made a beeline for Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City as the free zone slashed business set-up rates to a highly competitive Dh1,000 last year, and more than 200 companies could set up shop in 2022.

    “We generally announce specific targets, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we had easily a couple of hundred new companies in 2022 to continue with the growth rate we had in 2021,” said Stephen Severance, head of program management and marketing at Masdar City.

    Masdar City, which currently hosts around 1,100 firms, has introduced new packages and offers to lure companies and investors as competition among UAE’s free zone operators heats up. “We have some very attractive pricing for startups and new innovation companies – the market is pretty competitive out there,” said Severance.

    “Dubai Economy has made it possible to have 100 per cent foreign ownership with a DED license – we need to compete with that,” said Severance.

    As per the guidelines from Dubai Economy, 100 per cent foreign ownership is available for more than 1,000 commercial and industrial activities, excluding economic activities with a strategic impact, which relate to seven sectors.

    For the full article click here

  • Pupils in private and government schools in Abu Dhabi to return to class in phases from next week -

    Pupils in government-run schools nationwide will return to in-person learning in phases from next week.

    Children will attend classrooms for the first time this term from Monday, January 24 and Monday, January 31, depending on their year group.

    All private schools in Abu Dhabi will also begin a return to in-person lessons from January 24.

    At a televised briefing on Wednesday evening, officials said all pupils would require a PCR test, taken in the past 96 hours, to enter school buildings. They will further require a test every two weeks.

    For the full article click here

  • Rolls-Royce brings mini nuclear power plant technology to UAE World Future Energy Summit -

    Small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs as they are known, can support the clean energy ambitions of Middle East countries and help power-hungry industrial units to decarbonise production amid rising demand for cleaner metals and other products, the chief executive of Rolls-Royce SMR said.

    The British company is bringing its SMR technology to the World Future Energy Summit – the global conference showcasing green energy technology – and hopes to start talks with government representatives and large industrial companies to explore the potential of deals in the region, said CEO of Rolls-Royce Tom Samson.

    Nuclear energy has a major role to play in “addressing the clean energy needs of any country” and “we are looking to have those conversations when we come down to Abu Dhabi”, he said.

    “We are just beginning that journey and that is part of the reason to come to [WFES].”

    The company is already exploring opportunities to sell its technology to potential customers in the UK.

    However, the first SMR units are not expected to come online before the early part of the next decade as the company goes through the regulatory processes in the UK, builds factories, certifies its designs and moves on to the production process, said Mr Samson, who was previously chief operating officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation in the UAE.

    For the full article click here

  • What makes UAE the hottest FDI destination in GCC -

    As the UAE economy makes a consistent recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign capital inflows, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

    According to the latest estimates and forecasts from the IIF, the UAE attracted $46.4 billion in foreign capital inflows in 2021 with foreign direct investment (FDI) accounting for nearly half of that at $21.8 billion, ahead of Saudi Arabia's at $19.5 billion.

    While portfolio investment flows into the country is estimated at $19.3 billion, resident capital outflows in terms of foreign direct investments and other investments accounted for $64.2 billion, largely driven by investments and acquisitions by sovereign wealth funds, government related entities and large companies.

    In the GCC, Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounted for significantly larger share of foreign capital inflows with the UAE topping the region in FDI.

    FDI is expected to remain elevated in 2022 and 2023 in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

    “We expect higher FDI in the energy sector in the kingdom to raise crude oil and natural gas output capacity. In the UAE, elevated FDI is driven by the friendly business environment, excellent infrastructure, predictable policies, and political stability,” said Iradian.

    Strong demand for high-quality assets from the region will remain an important factor in attracting foreign capital to GCC asset classes. Large financial buffers in the form of official reserves and SWFs, solid returns, dollar-pegged currencies make GCC’s sovereign debt an attractive alternative to riskier securities in other emerging markets.

    For the full article click here

  • GCC banks will benefit from economic recovery in 2022, S&P says -

    Banks in the Gulf Co-operation Council area will benefit from a regional economic recovery this year, according to S&P Global Ratings.

    Higher oil prices, supportive government spending and normalising non-oil activity will boost regional banks’ growth, the ratings agency said in its latest report GCC Banking Sector Outlook: On the Recovery Path in 2022 released on Tuesday.

    Strong capitalisation and government support will continue to reinforce lenders’ creditworthiness, it said.

    The ratings agency, which expects Brent crude's price to average $65 a barrel this year, said improving economic sentiment and higher hydrocarbon production should lead to accelerated economic growth.

    “We expect banks’ asset quality indicators to deteriorate only slightly as regulatory forbearance measures have helped the corporate sector to deal with the negative effects of the pandemic," S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Mohamed Damak said.

    Like their global peers, GCC banks faced tougher operating conditions as the pandemic disrupted economic momentum. However, the regional economies, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economies, bounced back strongly on the back of mass inoculation programmes and fiscal measures.

    For the full article click here

  • Oman and Britain sign investment partnership as trade deal with GCC approaches -

    Oman and Britain signed a Sovereign Investment Partnership deal on Wednesday, agreeing to work more closely on increasing high-value investment into both countries as the UK draws nearer to a trade deal with the GCC.

    The new pact between the UK’s Office for Investment and the Oman Investment Authority was signed in London by the UK’s Minister for Investment, Lord Gerry Grimstone, and the President of the Oman Investment Authority, AbdulSalam Al Murshidi, with the aim of strengthening economic ties between the UK and Oman.

    The partnership also strives to identify and support commercial investments in areas such as clean energy and technology - a key part of the nations' £1 billion-a-year trading relationship.

    The signing follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s meeting with the Sultan Haitham of Oman at Downing Street in December, where he discussed efforts to boost Britain’s and Oman’s economic recovery from the pandemic, investment opportunities in green and renewable technology, and the new UK-GCC free trade agreement, which is under discussion this year.

    For the full article click here


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