The World Bank has already published its updated ranking of countries in the ease of doing business for this year. Thanks to the introduction of a whole package of reforms in 2018, the United Arab Emirates managed to rise ten positions at once and got 11th place.
However, the 11th position is not the limit, since the country's authorities set an ambitious goal – to bring the United Arab Emirates into the world leaders on this index, by consistently introducing new laws and implementing reforms. The purposeful and consistent policy of economic liberalization already gives its results, continually raising the country in terms of ease of doing business.
The UAE became the leader in its region (the Middle East and North Africa – Arab countries), entering the top 20 for the first time in its history, and going ahead of such developed countries as Sweden, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, and Spain.
Recall that the World Bank's rating includes 190 countries ranked by ten components of doing business, including obtaining electricity, paying taxes, building permits, contract compliance, protection of minority interests, availability of loans and other factors. The sum of these individual factors determines the overall rating and the position in the list.
Components of the UAE Success
Last year, the UAE government successfully carried out several reforms that have simplified the procedures for registering a company in the country, simplified access to energy resources and expanded the possibilities for registering real estate in the Emirates, and also simplified access to loans. All this allowed to noticeably rising in the new rating for 2019.
- Access to energy. The World Bank has noted advances in access to energy on the local market. In this category, the country received almost the maximum rating. Since they have eliminated all costs for commercial and industrial connections up to 150 kV, a new company can connect to the power system in the shortest possible time with minimal expenses.
- Liberalization for expats. The government removed some restrictions for expats, allowing them to control local companies directly. We remind you that previously, expats who had a business outside free zones were required to enter into partnerships with citizens of the UAE or a local legal entity who owned at least 51 % of shares of a joint venture and received an annual fee or a percentage of profits). Besides, it has extended the term resident visa for specialists in the medical field, science, and technology, as well as for the best students and major investors for up to 10 years. All this contributed to the increased interest of foreigners in this country.
- Liberalization of the real estate market. In 2019, the local government launched the Real Estate Investment Opportunity initiative, which is intended to attract new investors both form the country and foreign citizens and companies. Thus, as part of this initiative, several investment products were launched, including collective investment funds, the possibility for those with partial real estate ownership to register the objects that belong to several partners, and to simplify the procedure for taking in real estate rent.
- Modernization of online services for business. The UAE does not stop its online development and continues to improve its services for business registration and property ownership. These measures also expanded access to credit through the creation of a register of assets, which made banks even safer for lending to enterprises.
- New license categories for foreign investors. New types of licenses have been introduced in the DIFC free zone in Dubai, including short-term and limited licenses, commercial permits, and dual licenses for reduced licensing fees. Each of the new categories increases the flexibility of local regulations and opens up new opportunities for foreign businesses.
- Modernization of the judicial system. In recent years, the UAE has been pursuing a focused policy to modernize its judicial system, since ensuring the rule of law is one of the main priorities in the work of the UAE government. Over the past year, the training of judges has noticeably improved, specialized commercial courts work in the country, and electronic case management systems have been introduced. All this is intended to protect the interests of the business.
Thanks to the significant efforts made by the federal government, local governments, and the management entities of free economic zones, the UAE has become a global center for innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment with a business-friendly environment.
All the reforms carried out have already yielded a tangible result not only in the form of an improvement in the position in the ranking, but also in real figures of business statistics. For example, the Dubai Economic Development Department noted an increase in the number of licenses issued for new companies to 9,489, or by 35% (from January to April 2019) compared to the same period last year.