A Quarterly Newsletter from the UAE and Oman member firms of the PKF International Ltd. network

VOL 19, Issue 1 January 2017

OFFSHORE & FREE ZONE UPDATE

Popular offshore financial centers rally in latest global rankings

Offshore financial centers have recovered lost ground in the recently published twentieth edition of the Global Financial Centres Index. The Index, published twice a year, ranks financial centers according to opinions and data. The ratings for offshore financial centers increased, including for the Cayman Islands (41 to 28), Bermuda (50 to 35), the British Virgin Islands (46 to 36), Jersey (62 to 42), Guernsey (66 to 47), and the Isle of Man (68 to 65).

London, New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong remained the four leading global financial centers. Financial centers on the Chinese mainland are rapidly rising in importance with five cities included in the top fifty. Dubai is ranked 18th topping in the Middle East while Abu Dhabi is ranked 32nd. Other regional centers are ranked as follows: Doha – 40th, Manama – 58th, Riyadh – 82nd.

Launch of One Central

One Central is a vibrant new free zone mixed use district in the heart of Dubai CBD, and is owned entirely by Dubai World Trade Centre. Located directly adjacent to the DWTC Conference and Exhibition Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, One Central encompasses an enviable mix of new real estate offerings including commercial, hospitality, entertainment and residential components designed to form a unified live, work and play environment.

The commercial offices will be some of their first assets to complete and will encompass more than 185,000 sq. metres of Grade ‘A’ commercial office space in addition to almost 37,209 sq. meters of ground floor retail and Food and Beverage units. The commercial offices have been designed to the highest quality, meeting BCO (British Council of Offices) and LEED Gold sustainability standards, and are planned with large flexible open floor plans capable of achieving an occupational density of up to 1 person per 9m². The business district also includes four hotels of three, four and five star ratings comprising approximately 1,933 units, and residential towers consisting of 1,300 apartments and homes, as well as a modern theatre of 20, 992 sq. meters, equipped with the latest sound and light technology with a capacity for 2,500 people. Ample parking is also provided at a ratio of 1 space to 46m² for the offices, with over 7,000 basement parking spaces provided to support the whole One Central District.

The first commercial office building is already complete, with limited space remaining available, however due to the interest already shown, they have additional offices already in construction with completions planned for 2017 and 2018.

Dubai Airport Free Zone to support startups

The Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA) has launched an innovation program designed to help Free Zone clients expand their businesses and to remove barriers to growth. The DAFZA’s “Double Up 3M” program will look at some of the key issues facing participating enterprises, including helping them with their digital marketing strategies, competitor and market sizing analyses, cash flow and financial forecasting, and investment analysis.

The program is being overseen by Impact Hub Dubai, one of Dubai’s largest communities of “entrepreneurs, creatives, and techies”. It is part of a global network of over 90 similar hubs spread across six continents providing support for more than 12,000 entrepreneurs worldwide.

The Double Up 3M program is seen as a one-of-a-kind opportunity to DAFZ clients to enable them to further refine their business plan, advance their investment and partnership agenda, and create a solid pitch for partners and investors or for gaining funding to double-up and scale their business.

DIFC sets up Wealth Management Working Group

The Dubai International Financial Centre has established the DIFC Wealth Management Working Group to develop an updated wealth management strategy for the free trade zone. According to DIFC, its key focus areas will be to consider the enhancement of DIFC as a wealth management provider and succession planning platform for GCC families, as well as deepening the DIFC’s core offering to the international wealth management community.

The Working Group includes a number of leading global and local professionals in the wealth management industry, as well as representatives from the DIFC bodies.

DIFC releases proposed amendments for public consultation

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority recently released proposed amendments to DIFC law for public consultation. The DIFC Laws Amendment Law proposes amendments to the Companies Law 2009, the General Partnership Law 2004, the Limited Partnership Law 2006 and the Limited Liability Partnership Law 2004.

These proposed changes are in line with the requirements set out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The changes include an updated definition of “accounting records.” According to the updated definition, accounting records are records and underlying documents comprising initial and other accounting entries, and associated supporting documents such as:

  • Cheque;
  • Records of electronic funds transfers;
  • Invoices;
  • Contracts;
  • The general and subsidiary ledgers, journal entries, and other adjustments to the financial statements that are not reflected in journal entries; and
  • Work sheets and spreadsheets supporting cost allocations, computations, reconciliations, and disclosures.

The proposed amendments were posted for a 30- day public consultation period.

(This article is Compiled by Chaitanya Kirtikar, Senior Manager, Offshore & Free Zone Department)