Dubai on Monday launched a virtual company licence which will cost Dh850 for a year, a senior official said.
"I would like to announce the launch of the virtual commercial licence. The first of its kind, the licence is granted without residence visa in Dubai. The initiative corresponds to the 50-year charter announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to ensure Dubai's sustainability and prosperity," said Sami Al Qamzi, director-general of Department of Economic Development in Dubai.
The virtual licence costs Dh850 ($233) for one year which includes a Dh200 startup fee for sole proprietorship and Dh650 for the licence. While two-year licence will cost $411 (Dh1,508) and $589 (Dh2,161) for three years.
Virtual companies are registered in Dubai to individuals who don't reside in the UAE and the owner of the companies must be nationals or tax residents of certain countries. Residents of around 120 countries can obtain the virtual commercial licence with whom the UAE has signed double-taxation avoidance agreements. The emirate aims to have 100,000 companies in the virtual city. However, the licence will not automatically guarantee physical access to the UAE - be it in the form of a business or visitor or resident visa to any of the company's partners or employees.
"Dubai Government authorities are working on a simplified visa process for the holders of virtual company licence. A virtual company licence doesn't automatically guarantee a business bank account in the UAE and it will at the discretion of the commercial banks. However, we can facilitate access to account opening process," the Dubai Virtual Commercial City says on its website.
Virtual companies are allowed to undertake selected professional activities including services related to printing and advertising; computer programming, consultancy and related activities; and design activities.
Al Qamzi forecast that Dubai economy will grow 2.1 per cent in 2019 but the growth will spike next year to 3.8 per cent but stabilise again at 2.8 per cent in 2021, hence boosting investor confidence further.
"Dubai Economy along with its agencies is confidently taking the Emirate to new level of sustainable growth. Over the past five years, Dubai has consistently remained among the most attractive cities for foreign direct investment, offering opportunities in new economic sectors," Al Qamzi said while addressing the Dubai Investment Week conference on Monday.
Dr Raed Safadi, chief economic advisor, Dubai Economy, said the emirate will continue to outpace global growth and those of advanced economies in the next couple of years on the back of Expo 2020 and developments related to the exhibition. He noted that these estimates have been made after taking in account the uncertainties of Brexit, global trade war and forecasts for the current oil prices. Post Expo 2020, he revealed that Dubai's growth will be driven by initiatives to be announced by the government under Dubai's 50-year charter.
"First charter will be announced in early 2020. Charter will come to up with higher skills, higher digital technology adoption, more use of artificial intelligence and blockchain," he said while addressing the Dubai Investment Week.
Henrik Von Scheel, Originator of the Industry 4.0, Von Scheel AG, praised the Dubai and its rulers for its growth-oriented policies. "For me, Dubai and UAE are the pillars and frontiers that can take the lead. I have not seen a country that has capability to do. The future looks bright but my hope is very much on the UAE. Political leaders want to do right things but their hands are tied. The UAE is the only one that can take lead. You must stop copying and start thinking, do strategic things. You can be leader of innovation for the next 600 years."