UAE Trademark registration fees are set to double

A recent decision by the UAE Cabinet Decision – No. 9 of 2015 – has effectively doubled the official fees for registering trademarks with the Ministry of Economy (MOE) trademark office (TMO) in the UAE.  This marks a huge increase on what were already considered one of the highest places to register a Trademark in the world.
This decision takes effect on 29 May 2015 and similar increases apply to other forms of intellectual property.
The fees have been increased as follows:
Search fee – from AED 250 up to AED 500
Application filing fee – from AED 500 up to AED 1000
Publication fee – from AED 500 up to AED 1,000
Registration fee – from AED 5,000 up to AED 10,000
Renewal fee – from AED 5,000 up to AED 10,000

ANZAC Day 2015

ANZAC is an acroymn for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Saturday 25th April 2015 will mark 100 years since Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli. This was Australia’s first major military involvement during the First World War. As the sun rises around the world on Saturday, dawn services will be held to pay respect, remember and honour those brave men and women from the Australian and New Zealand armed forces who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations since that ill-fated campaign.

Australia had only been a nation since 1901.  In 1914 when Britain declared war against Germany for its invasion of Belgium, Australia, as a British Colony, regarded itself inevitably also at war.

At dawn on 25 April 1915 approximately 75 000 soldiers from twelve countries landed under fire at Gallipoli in Turkey, looking to push through to Istanbul and capturing Turkey (an ally of Germany) opening up a route to provide supplies and support to Russia in its fight against Germany. The invading troops failed to reach their objective and for the next eight months they clung to the land they had secured, before finally withdrawing. At the end of the campaign 43,000 soldiers had died, including 8,141 Australians and 2,431 New Zealanders. The Turkish soldiers, successfully defending their country against this invasion, lost an estimated 86,500.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the actions of Australian and New Zealand troops during this campaign left us a prevailing legacy. The “ANZAC legend” was born and became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both our past and our future.

Legends rose, we were told tales of Simpson and his donkey; rescuing dozens of wounded soldiers and bringing them to safety to be treated, the Australian Light Horsemen; charged on orders, despite it being clear that all would be mown down as soon as they emerged from their trenches.

That’s the Anzac spirit; courage, compassion, tenacity, mateship, and sacrifice.

So this weekend, Will you be attending a dawn service? Who will you be remembering? What will you reflect on? What does ANZAC Day mean to you?

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning:

We will remember them.”

– fourth verse of Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen: Lest We Forget

2,020 days more for Dubai Expo 2020

Dubai — Today officially marks the 2,020 day countdown to the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai — another milestone for the iconic event which will be held for the first time in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region.

The October 20, 2020, opening will welcome millions of visitors, countries and companies from across the globe during the six-month event, which also coincides with the UAE’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The commemorative key countdown marker is among a number of initiatives around the UAE-wide multi-experience community engagement campaign, ‘For Everyone’, which includes interactive experiential zones, art shows and the opportunity to design the new Expo 2020 Dubai logo.

“As we are ready to celebrate this important milestone on the journey to Expo 2020, the opportunity to engage with the people of the UAE and provide platforms to spur meaningful and collaborative discussion around the Expo themes, our value to our community and how Expo 2020 will be for everyone, will hopefully empower people to be actively involved in shaping this event,” said Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State, Board Representative of the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee and Director General – Bureau Dubai Expo 2020.

Two state-of-the-art experience zones will be on display at Dubai Mall and JBR The Beach from April 10 -18 before visiting the other six emirates in the subsequent weeks.

The experiential zones will take visitors on a journey through the history of World Expos from the first edition in 1851 to Expo 2020 Dubai and the significance of hosting such an event on the eve of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee. The zones will uniquely engage visitors via interactive screens and motion-controlled sensor displays to enhance awareness about the Expo, and how the UAE will benefit from the collective works of the community to make this a truly exceptional world expo.

Source: http://www.khaleejtimes.com

UAE workforce expands 10% indicating strong growth rate

Abu Dhabi — The UAE’s workforce has grown 10 per cent year-on-year in 2014 to 4.417 million, the strongest growth rate in 44 years, said the Ministry of Labour.

“The ministry has issued approximately 1.212 million work permits over last year, which also witnessed the termination of work contracts for about 821,000 workers,” said Humaid Rashid bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, assistant under secretary of labour affairs.

The strong growth in the labour market and its bullish indicators in 2014 show the strength and growth potentials of the second biggest Arab economy especially for highly skilled work-force, as the economy advances to more sophisticated and knowledge-based industries.

The construction industry topped the list of the three major employers, where the number of workers reached to over 1.50 million or 34 per cent of total workforce; the services followed it with 1.050 million workforce or 24 per cent of total workforce; and the industries with 500,000 workers or 12 per cent, accounting for about 70 per cent of total jobs in the country.

Al Suwaidi said that the health sector with 25.4 per cent is the fastest growing sector; followed by real estate, leasing, and services by 18.6 per cent, chased by hotels, restaurants, transportation, storage and logistics industries at 12.3 per cent.

The assistant under secretary also explained that first and second group of workforce grew 14 per cent, while the third, fourth, and fifth groups of workers in terms of skills set rose nine per cent. He said that the strong demand in first and second workforce groups compared to the other three groups indicates that the job market is looking for highly qualified and technical expertise.

According to the classification adopted by the Ministry of Labour for jobs, the first group of jobs includes specialised occupations which require a higher technical expertise and a university degree at a minimum. The second group includes jobs that require the technical expertise and supervisory skills with a 2-3 years diploma.

Al Suwaidi also said that the labour market has witnessed significant workers mobility who were given new work permits after the implementation of the new transfer system in 2011, which shows the flexibility and market stability.

Al Suwaidi added that the total number of workers, who were allowed work permits during 2011, before the implementation of the new transfer system, were 1.05 million, but the number jumped 62.5 per cent since then to 170,000 in 2014. He also said that the rate of increase in the number of work force listed under the first and second category of jobs, who were given work permits during the previous year was 14 per cent higher than in the third, fourth and fifth category of job, which was about seven per cent.

In order to benefit from the new system employer-employee must consent to the termination of the labour contract, and second, the employee must have spent at least two years at the previous workplace.

Cases of exemption from the first requirement include employees whose previous employers have violated the terms of their contract. As for exemption from the second requirement, it includes employees who wish to enroll in a first-group job’s skill set with a minimum salary of Dh12,000, a second-group of jobs with a minimum salary of Dh7,000 or a third group of jobs with a minimum salary of Dh5,000.

Dubai rents increase in early 2015

Dubai: Forecast of an across-the-board rent decline did not happen during the first three months of the year, as a number of tenants in Dubai continued to witness increases of as much as 5.74 per cent, a new report showed.

Data compiled by real estate portal Bayut.com showed that the average rent for three-bedroom apartments during the first quarter of 2015 increased by 5.74 per cent from the previous three months. Annual rents for apartments in this category are currently averaging Dh215,000.

One-bedroom apartment rentals also went up by 3.39 per cent, with annual rents going up to Dh101,667, about Dh3,300 higher than last year’s Dh98,333.

“Expectations of an across-the-board decline in rental prices in [the first quarter] proved to be wrong, and the solid demand for residential units kept rents afloat in many localities,” the company said in a report sent to Gulf News.

The report said rental rates for apartments with two bedrooms also saw a minor increase of 1.28 per cent, with annual rates averaging Dh158,333.

The property portal, pointed out, though that some areas noticed some price reductions and a wider rental decline is still expected once the new units hit the market.

Al Mario, who is renting a two-bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina, is looking for a new place to stay. His landlord has announced that he will increase the rent by 20 per cent once the lease is renewed in June.

“The landlord said the rent is still within the Rera rental index calculator. So our rent will be Dh120,000 by June. There is no consideration even though we have been living in the same apartment for five years,” Mario told Gulf News.

“This increase of 20% is too much to bear. We only get five per cent increase in our salary in a year, if we are lucky. With this skyrocketing rent increases and the everyday heavy traffic caused by the tram in the vicinity, it is time to relocate.”

Dennis, another expatriate renting a three-bedroom flat with his family in Al Muteena, Deira, said he has just received a notice from his landlord informing him that the rent will increase by 15 to 20 per cent in July.

Haider Ali Khan, CEO of Bayut.com, attributed the rent increases to the strong demand for apartments for lease. The additional residential units that were forecast to be completed this year have yet to be delivered.

“The rise in rental values can be attributed to a natural hike in demand or marginal inflationary trends year-on-year that is expected in almost every sector,” Ali Khan said.

“The rents were expected to decline with the delivery of new units early in 2015. Since they have not been delivered as yet, the demand remains strong and the rentals have continued with their increasing trends during the first quarter.”

According to JLL Middle East and North Africa, rents in general remained relatively flat, while sale prices for apartments and villas registered marginal declines.

“Rents remained relatively flat. We expect this trend to continue with average sale prices declining by up to10 per cent during 2015,” said Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL Middle East and North Africa.

“The Dubai real estate market continued to experience subdued activity during the first quarter of the year. Residential sale prices saw a marginal decline across both apartments and villas.”

JLL said it is normal for sale prices to move ahead of rents and “this appears to be happening in the residential market in Dubai at present.”

“While this is resulting in increased rental yields, this is likely to be a temporary factor with more attractive yields eventually increasing demand and therefore sale prices again.”

New UAE Commercial Companies Law: A Move Towards Global Standards

On 1 April 2015, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, enacted Federal Law No 2 of 2015 (the Commercial Companies Law, or Law). The Law brings to a close several years of speculation regarding anticipated changes to Federal Law No 8 of 1984 Regarding Commercial Companies, as amended (the Commercial Companies Law of 1984).

The Commercial Companies Law introduces very specific, strategic modifications, designed to modernise the regulation of UAE commercial activities in line with UAE Vision 2021. This article gives an overview of the principal changes to corporate and commercial legislation in the Law.

Changes to LLC Ownership Requirements The Commercial Companies Law will allow the establishment of limited liability companies (LLCs) by a sole legal person.

Previously, under the Commercial Companies Law of 1984, the establishment of an LLC required a minimum of two legal persons. An individual seeking to establish a business alone could only establish a sole proprietorship, an arrangement which did not provide the protections of limited liability, or establish an LLC in certain free zones, which restricted business activities to within the free zone area.

The ability to incorporate an LLC with one shareholder means that sole actors will enjoy the benefit of limited liability in their business ventures. At this time, the change will primarily benefit Emirati and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) entrepreneurs seeking to establish ventures in the UAE, given the limitation on foreign ownership. These limitations are still under consideration, as discussed below.

Several other changes to the operation of LLCs are introduced by the Commercial Companies Law. The Law has removed the cap on the number of managers appointed to an LLC, currently set at five. Furthermore, a manager of an LLC may not, without the consent of the general assembly of the LLC, operate any business in competition with the business of the company in question.

The Commercial Companies Law has reduced the required notice period for general assemblies from 21 days to 15 days, or less with the agreement of all partners. The minimum attendance to achieve a quorum for a general assembly of an LLC has been increased from a minimum of 50 per cent of all partners to 75 per cent. If a quorum is not present at the first meeting, a second meeting is to be called to be held within 14 days of the first meeting, at which the minimum attendance to achieve a quorum shall be partners owning 50 per cent of the capital of the company. If a quorum is not achieved at the second meeting, a third meeting shall be called to be held 30 days after the second meeting, which shall be valid regardless of the number partners attending.

As previously, for a resolution at the general assembly of an LLC to be valid, it must be passed by partners owning a simple majority of capital of the LLC. Amendments to the articles of a company will require the approval of partners owning a minimum of 75 per cent of the capital of the company, unless the articles of association specify a greater majority.

Regulation of Listed Companies The Commercial Companies Law includes several changes to the regulation of listed companies.

The minimum float requirement on UAE exchanges is reduced. Under the Commercial Companies Law of 1984, listing companies were required to float at a minimum 55 per cent of company equity. The new Law has lowered that requirement to a minimum of 30 per cent of company equity. This change will bring the UAE minimum float requirement in line with the minimum required by many of the world’s strongest exchanges.

Furthermore, the Commercial Companies Law introduces the practice of underwriting to the UAE capital markets: the practice of underwriting was previously prohibited. This change will permit companies to price shares by book-building or relying on indicative bids from investment fund managers, as is commonly done in other capital market regimes. Previously, listed companies were required to rely on fixed price evaluations.

Listed companies will also be permitted to convert debt to equity, a practice which was not expressly permitted under the previous legislative regime. A listed company will be able to increase its capital by converting cash debt into equity, upon the presentation of a study by the board of directors to the general assembly indicating the necessity of such a step, and the passing of a special resolution approving the process.

Regulatory Bodies The Commercial Companies Law will alter the way that public companies in the UAE interact with regulatory bodies.

The regulation of private companies will continue to require cooperation between the Ministry of Economy regarding matters within the federal domain, and each emirate’s department of economic development regarding matters within the local domain of the relevant emirate. However, most authority for the licensing and regulation of publicly listed companies will be handed over to the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA). ESCA will have jurisdiction over public companies, with the exception of matters relating to trade names and activity licensing, which will continue to require cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and the local department of economic development.

Corporate Governance and Transparency The Commercial Companies Law introduces stricter regulations for the accounting practices and auditing procedures, applicable to all companies. The intention is to bring UAE corporate practice up to international standards of accountability and transparency.

For example, article 26 of the Law requires all companies, including LLCs, to keep accounting records showing its transactions. The aim is to accurately reveal at any time the financial position of the company and enable the partners or shareholders to confirm that the accounts of the company are properly kept in accordance with the provisions of the Law. Accounting books must be kept at the company’s head office for at least five years from the end of the financial year to which they relate.

Article 27 of the Law requires all joint stock companies and LLCs, with the exception of joint venture companies, to have one or more auditors to audit the accounts of the company every year. All companies must prepare annual financial accounts, including the balance sheet and the profit and loss account applying the International Accounting Standards (as set by the International Accounting Standards Council). Any partner or shareholder in a company may obtain, without charge, a copy of the last audited accounts, the last audited report and a copy of the accounts of the group if it is a holding company, upon written request. The company must respond to such a written request within 10 days.

The Commercial Companies Law also introduces corporate governance requirements for private and public joint stock companies, providing that Ministerial resolutions shall be passed introducing the framework that will regulate the corporate governance of private joint stock companies with more than 75 shareholders. The Chairman of ESCA is required to issue the applicable corporate governance regulations for public joint stock companies.

Share Pledges The Commercial Companies Law of 1984 does not address taking security by way of share pledge. Accordingly, to date, there has been no procedure for pledging the shares of an LLC in the UAE. As a further complication, LLCs have not been regarded as having shares to pledge, but rather, partners in an LLC hold quotas or units in an LLC, and certificates of ownership akin to share certificates have not been issued to partners.

The Law introduces a procedure for perfecting security by way of share pledge over shares in an LLC. Under the Law, a partner may transfer or pledge shares in the company to another party or to a third party, provided the transaction is made in accordance with the terms of the company’s articles of association, by way of a legally binding document, notarially executed and registered in the commercial register of the department of economic development of the relevant emirate.

Companies wishing to enable shareholders to offer security by way of a share pledge will need to amend their articles of association to authorise this. Where a partner wishes to transfer a share to a third party, pre-emption rules will apply. Thus, a partner seeking to transfer his share to a third party, with or without consideration, must notify the other partners, through the manager of the company, of the details of the proposed transferee and the terms of the transfer. The manager shall notify the other partners of these details immediately upon receiving notice. Every partner may demand to pre-empt the share within 30 days from the date on which the manager first received notice of the agreed price. In the event of dispute on price, such price shall be assessed by one or more technical experts, as nominated by the local department of economic development, on demand by the applicant for pre-emption and at his cost. Where a right of pre-emption is exercised by more than one partner, shares offered for sale are to be divided among partners pro rata to their respective shareholdings. Upon expiry of the statutory period, without pre-emption, the relevant partner may dispose of the shares to the third party.

The Law also includes related regulations on the enforcement of share pledges. Where a partner commences execution proceedings against the share of its debtor, the partner shall agree the terms of sale with the debtor and the company. Failing agreement, the share(s) shall be offered for sale at public auction, with the company retaining the right to recover the sold share(s) upon the same terms as awarded at auction within 15 days from the date of the auction. It remains to be seen how in practice these provisions will benefit, for example, shareholders wanting to facilitate corporate finance by pledging shares to a third party. The Law does not introduce the concept of a certificate of share ownership, as is commonly used in other jurisdictions when a proof of ownership is required for the registration of share pledge. It is likely that a competent authority will rely on the register of partners of the company which, under the new Commercial Companies Law, must be kept up to date and the particulars of which must be lodged with the local department of economic development in January of each year.

No Changes to Restriction on Foreign Ownership Despite earlier speculation, the Commercial Companies Law does not change restrictions on foreign ownership of onshore companies, which remains at a maximum of 49 per cent. Not less than 51 per cent must be Emirati-owned. Complete foreign ownership of a company remains restricted to free zone entities for the time being. However, at the UAE Annual Investment Meeting held in Dubai on 30 March 2015, His Excellency Sultan Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, reiterated the government’s intention to enact a new law that would relax such foreign ownership restrictions in certain, as yet unspecified, industry sectors. To date, no timeline has been declared for the introduction of the proposed law.

Similarly, the new Commercial Companies Law will have little effect on the regulation of branches of foreign companies or representative offices, both of which still require local sponsorship for establishment and operation. However, branch offices of foreign companies which have, to date, been prevented from engaging in trade and whose activities have been limited to promoting and representing the businesses of their foreign mother entity, may now, upon fulfilment of certain limited criteria, be granted the right to trade from the Ministry of Economy and the local department of economic development.

Timeline to Enforcement Article 378 of the new Commercial Companies Law sets the date for enforcement at three months from the date of publication in the Official Gazette, as is customary for new laws. Assuming the effective date is not postponed, then these provisions will come into effect at the start of July 2015.