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‘Block’ visas in Saudi Arabia now valid for one year

Effective immediately, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MOLSD) has reduced the validity period for block visas to one year (previously two years). Block visas are, in essence, quotas issued by the MOLSD that permit entities to sponsor foreign national employees for long-term work authorisation. Affected companies will now have one year to recruit and hire foreign national employees before the expiry of their block visa privileges. This development builds on the government’s updated “Nitaqat” framework that has implemented higher “Saudisation” percentages across most industries, vocational training initiatives for Saudi nationals, and other measures designed to improve the representation of Saudi nationals in the private sector.

KSA​ ​Customs​ ​Alert: Elimination​ ​of​ ​certificate​ ​of​ ​origin​ ​as​ ​a​ ​customs release​ ​requirement

Saudi Customs has recently issued a new regulation eliminating the requirement for importers to provide a Certificate of Origin ("CoO”) to clear the goods for import into the Kingdom, subject to the condition that the goods bear an affixed, irremovable mark of origin. This new simplification is expected to generate significant cost reductions to import goods into Saudi Arabia, as importers will no longer require to obtain a CoO from their suppliers in the country of origin (or country of export, as the case may be) of the goods.

UAE introduce anti-dumping duty on GCC imports for the first time

Following a decision of the GCC Industrial Cooperation Committee the UAE has imposed an anti-dumping duty on GCC imports of car batteries originated in or exported from South Korea with effect 25 June 2017. This is the first anti-dumping duty imposed by the UAE after the issuance of Federal Law (1) of 2017 on Anti-Dumping, Countervailing and Safeguards Measures on 21 May 2017. The UAE Ministry of Economy announced earlier this year that the new legal framework allows the UAE Government to protect national industries, businesses and markets from imports of goods that are either “dumped”, subsidized or require to be temporarily limited.

KSA: Capital gains, dividend income and other income tax amendments

A number of significant amendments to the Saudi Arabian (KSA) Income Tax law (‘Law’) have been issued through a Royal Decree. The amendments appear intended to support the objectives of Vision 2030 or achieve alignment between the Saudi tax authority practice and international practice. Two notable changes include the exemption from income tax for KSA resident recipients of dividends from KSA resident or certain KSA non-resident companies; and the potential removal of capital gains on the intra-group transfers of assets (including shares) in certain circumstances.

VAT registration in UAE is now available in the FTA online portal

The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has now opened its online portal to allow for taxpayers to register for VAT purposes. The FTA has also determined the deadlines for the application for VAT registration based on business turnover. For larger companies VAT registration is required by 31 October 2017, and as such businesses should immediately consider the timeline requirement given their turnover profile and the other registration requirements.

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Dean Kern
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