#1 The UAE as a modern offshore trading hub by ChristopherScott 04.11.2022 23:00

These free trade zones offer the opportunity to set up an offshore company in a location with highly developed infrastructure for banking and finance, business, tourism and entertainment. In addition to facilities for children and young people such as kindergartens, schools and international colleges, the free trade zones offer a high standard of living, security and stability. An important restriction to mention is the ban on trading in the UAE market. An offshore company in a free zone can only operate in the local business market through a local distributor.

Another very good reason to choose the UAE as the right place to set up your company is that offshore companies benefit from attractive investor interest protection laws and special tax regimes with 0% VAT, corporate and income tax. Like many countries in the Middle East, the UAE earned most of its wealth from the oil industry. Whilst the oil industry is no longer the main source of income in the UAE, the country can still afford to allow for a tax-free life in order to attract international companies and workers who further enrich and diversify the economy. The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE once stated that his country would never introduce an income tax to address the deficit. In addition, capital gains, inheritance or rental income are not taxed.

Offshore companies incorporated in one of the free trade zones must comply with the laws of that zone. Also, the incentives can vary; Most free trade zones offer 0% corporate tax as one of their many incentives, provided the company does not trade with residents of the jurisdiction.

Following the IMF's suggestions that the application of VAT could help diversify the UAE's economic resources, it was announced that from 1 January 2018, a 5% VAT would be introduced in the UAE. Certain groceries, educational and health items, bicycles and social services are exempt from VAT.

The UAE economy is growing steadily and according to the IMF will grow by 1.5% of real GDP in 2017. It is currently the third largest re-exporter in the world and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development is considered one of the largest stabilization funds in the world. In addition, Dubai has taken various measures to develop all sectors of its economy, as a result of which oil revenues today account for less than 20% of total revenues, while the rest comes from business and finance sectors, air travel, tourism, transport logistics and education.

The UAE accounted for 62% of all private equity investments in the Middle East and North Africa by value and 34% by transaction volume in 2016. These positive changes were mainly driven by a sharp increase in investment in technology-related sectors – FinTech, IT and e- Commerce in particular. The number of disclosed private equity investments reached 244 (the highest number since 2008), with the largest deal of $350 million being raised by Careem, a regional provider of transportation services headquartered in the United Arab Emirates.

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