From purchasing alcohol to new items affected by the excise tax…
As Dubai continues to strive to making life in the city even easier for its expat residents, the city introduces a number of rules and laws each year.
And 2019 has been no exception, so from getting your liquor license to cancelling your phone contract, here are seven rules and laws introduced in 2019 you should know about.
If you want to leave your mobile phone contract early in the UAE, you were previously met with hefty fees to do so. But, that’s set to change thanks to a new amendment being brought in by the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). In a statement on Wednesday March 20, the TRA said that the amendment will mean that users will only be charged a one-month fee to exit their mobile phone contract early. This replaces the current rule, which allows network providers to charge a monthly fee multiplied by the number of remaining months of the contract. The TRA advised that the amendment has already been applied to new mobile contracts, with network regulator working to introduce these amendments to existing contracts, in the ‘coming period’. It’s anticipated that this will be complete in 2019.
The UAE’s new permanent residency visa was announced in May 2018, and in a Tweet in March 2019, Sheikh Mohammed confirmed that the cabinet had begun reviewing applications for the long-term visas. At the time, Sheikh Mohammed said that the new visa system will ensure that the UAE remains “a global incubator for talents and a permanent destination for pioneers”. Under the first round of applications, around 6,800 people have been granted permanent residency and gold card status. Those 6,800 residents collectively pledged investments of approximately Dh100 billion, according to the Dubai Ruler.
Obtaining a liquor license
The process for residents who are looking to purchase a liquor license in Dubai has been significantly relaxed, making it much easier to obtain the license. Previously the requirements for obtaining a license included an NOC letter from your employer, father or husband, tenancy contract and salary certificate showing earnings of over Dhs3000 per month. However now all you need to submit your application is your Emirates ID copy, passport copy, visa copy and passport photo. Once you have the four necessary documents, you can also complete the application and payment of Dhs270 online on the MMI or African + Eastern official site. You must be over 21 years of age and a non-muslim. If your application is approved, you can collect the license from your chosen MMI or African and Eastern store and will even be granted vouchers to spend in return.
Tourists purchasing alcohol
Tourists in the UAE who are here on a visit visa can now obtain a free liquor license to legally purchase alcohol during their stay. In order to get their license, tourists must visit an African + Eastern or MMI liquor store with their original passport, fill out a short form and sign an official declaration to state that they are not a UAE resident, and will obey the UAE’s rules and regulations in regards to alcohol purchase and consumption. The store will then take a copy of both the passport and the entry stamp, and also issue the customer with a guideline to responsible drinking in Dubai. The license will be valid for 30 days and applicable for renewal if the tourist chooses to extend their stay. The process is free and open to all non-Muslim visitors to the UAE, if they are over the age of 21.
Dubai Police has relaxed the rules on fine repayment in line with their safety initiative, which gives increased discounts over time to drivers of exemplary standard. The initiative, launched in the Year of Tolerance, aims to encourage safer driving by offering up to 100 per cent off fines if a driver does not commit any violations for a full calendar year. However, residents noticed that it would be difficult to make use of this perk, as previously all fines should be cleared before annual car registration renewal. But Dubai Police have instructed the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to allow drivers to renew their car without clearing their fines. At the moment, it’s still unclear when residents will have to pay them back by if they don’t receive the full discount. “The vehicle’s licence will be renewed regardless of the amount of the accumulated fines or any periods of confiscation imposed on the cars, or the number of offences committed,” said Dubai Police chief, major general Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri in May.
Blocking emergency vehicles
As of July 1, 2019, motorists who do not give away or move for emergency vehicles now face an increased fine of Dhs3,000 plus six black points and 30 days car impoundment. Previously, the fine was Dhs1,000 plus six black points however the UAE’s Ministry of Interior announced the increase on Monday June 17. The ministry also released guidance on when and how vehicles should give away to clarify on the rules of the road. It said that it had ‘noticed that some vehicle drivers do not give way to official cars, emergency and civil defence vehicles and ambulances, even when they hear the sirens or see the cars’ flashing lights, thus endangering their lives and the lives of others.’
From December 1: Excise Tax
The UAE Cabinet has announced plans to introduce an excise tax on e-cigarettes, vapes and certain soft drinks. From December 1, 2019, electronic smoking devices, and the liquids used in them, will be hit with a 100 per cent tax, while soft drinks containing added sugar and sweeteners will be subject to a 50 per cent tax. A full list of the products affected has not yet been given. These products add to the products first affected by the excise tax when it was first launched on October 1, 2017. The introduction of excise tax in Dubai saw an excise tax of 100 per cent introduced for tobacco and energy drinks, and 50 per cent for fizzy drinks (except carbonated water).