Tag Archives: Dubai

BVI to foster stronger ties with Dubai

The British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) international financial center was represented at two recent conferences and a series of high-level meetings in Dubai, attended to discuss potential financial services synergies and drum up funds and wealth management business for the Caribbean territory.


A small BVI delegation attended the Hedge Funds World Conference at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, and the Society of Trust and Estate Practioners’ “Opportunities for the Flow of New Wealth Conference” event which discussed business and investment possibilities in Dubai, particularly from the Dubai International Financial Center – a leading tax-free zone.

Executive Director of the BVI International Finance Center, Elise Donovan, commented: “We were given a very warm welcome on our return to the United Arab Emirates and it is clear that many investors from across the region recognize the advantages of using BVI structures and services for conducting international business.”

World Trade Center. Dubai has established itself as a prominent regional hub for finance, trade, tourism, and shopping. Picture courtesy of Basil D Soufi.

BVI firms already have a significant presence in the Gulf region. The BVI office of law firm Conyers, Dill and Pearman, for example, was involved in the Mostorod Oil Refinery Project, named “Project Finance Deal of the Year” in the International Financial Law Review’s Middle East Awards. The firm acted for Citadel Capital, a listed Egyptian private equity firm, on the USD3.7bn financing for the redevelopment of an oil refinery near Cairo. The deal was the largest-ever financing project in Africa and among the largest inward-investments into Egypt.

Donovan continued: “The BVI has become an attractive option to investors from the Gulf States looking to acquire BVI company structures for a multiplicity of investing and other cross-border transactions. BVI’s structures are easy to use, flexible, widely accepted and cost-competitive compared to other products being offered in the region.”

“BVI trusts and fiduciary services and funds and investment business are popular in the Middle East for wealth management, investing, structuring ownership and control, and for planning for the succession of assets. Our aim is to strengthen and deepen the relationship the BVI has with the Middle East so that we can work more closely together in the future.”

The Dubai Airport Freezone is expanding

The Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZ), a tax neutral zone in the vicinity of Dubai International Airport, has reported that business sales increased 63% during the first half of 2010 compared to the same period last year.

According to statistics released by the DAFZ, the number of companies expanding offices saw a rise of 80%, taking up an additional 64% of office space. In addition, over the period, increased business led profits higher, with companies achieving profit of 11% above targets.

Commenting, Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of DAFZ and President of Dubai Civil Aviation, said:

“The increase in the number of American and European companies in the first six months by 50% compared to last year, and the 25% increase in companies from Asia and the Middle East, is evidence of the innovative services and unmatched facilities Dubai Airport Freezone [offers].”

Based next to one of the world’s busiest airports and providing a tax-free environment, the free zone houses over 1,500 companies, the majority of which are from Europe and the United States.

“The results of the first six months recorded by DAFZ is evidence of the healthy business environment in Dubai in particular and the UAE in general. It also shows the interest of international companies to establish their operations in the country,” Ahmad added.

The Free Zone has been recognized as a top free zone globally, and the leading free zone in the Middle East, offering a number of incentives to prospective investors, including: exemption from corporate income tax, import and export taxes, and personal income taxes; no customs duties; no restrictions on foreign ownership; no currency restrictions; and no restrictions or taxes on the repatriation of capital and profits.

The DAFZ plans to continue expanding, by 75,000 square feet in 2011, and by 230,000 square feet starting in 2012.


Dubai – Support of entrepreneurial enterprises

Dubai has announced plans to launch a new visa system – similar to that already operational in Singapore – that would expedite entrepreneurs’ visa applications and offer business formation advice as part of the Dubai’s efforts to encourage high value start-ups to the Emirate. A new bourse, specially for Small- and Medium-sized enterprises, has also been proposed for implementation in coming years.

As reported initially by Dubai-based paper the National, the EntrePass scheme has been established to encourage “start-ups with high commercial value to set up in Dubai and share knowledge and intellectual property rights with the emirate”.

In return, the paper reported, entrepreneurs will have their visa application expedited and be provided guidance from experts at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment (MBRE) for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprise Development to aid them in establishing Dubai operations, as well as ongoing support. In addition, in certain cases, entrepreneurs may be eligible to financing through the UAE’s first Sharia-compliant venture capital fund, the paper reported.

According to the National’s report, the EntrePass scheme will be implemented on a small scale in the final quarter of 2010 with ten entrepreneurs offered a placement. The scheme would then be expanded thereafter, the Department for Economic Development said. It is anticipated that the scheme will run until 2012 or 2013.

In comments on the scheme to the National, Alexandar Wilians, the Director of Strategy and Policy Division at MBRE, said, “We want Dubai to be the centre for innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The future of Dubai will rest on nurturing selective foreign entrepreneurs with good ideas to use Dubai as a test bed for development and to build business around it.

We are looking at any company with new business models and existing technology that can be adapted to the UAE and that could benefit Dubai through the sharing of intellectual property and knowledge transfer.

Entrepreneurial activity is a major driving force in Dubai; SMEs account for 98% of companies registered as operating from the Emirate. The MBRE is looking to support the sector’s growth, including through plans to establish a specialized stock exchange for Dubai SMEs – the Dubai SME 100 – which would allow smaller companies with lower capitalizations to gain access to extra funds through public offerings, removing capitalization-based barriers to entry. According to the National, the Dubai SME 100 ranking system would be established in March 2011, allowing for the creation of the new secondary bourse in 2012-13.

In the meantime, support for SME development is to be provided through the Emirate’s first Sharia-compliant venture capital fund, which is to provide Dubai SMEs with additional equity through repayable loans.