The Dubai Free Zones Council and the Federal Tax Authority have organised an informative workshop on Value-Added Tax, VAT, that will be implemented in the UAE starting from 2018. The event drew the participation of more than 70 representatives of companies operating across Dubai’s various free zones.

With the aim of helping free zone entities fulfil their tax obligations, the workshop provided a comprehensive overview of the VAT and related mechanisms, the implementation timeline, products and services it will cover, as well as tax-exempt sectors. The session clarified the impact of the new tax law on activities such as book-keeping as well as in the preparation of invoices and other financial documents.

Dr. Mohammad Al Zarouni, Secretary-General of the Dubai Free Zones Council, emphasised the importance of the workshop for enabling entities operating in the free zones to prepare for full compliance with the new tax legislation.

He said, “Companies must take timely and effective measures to adapt their operations, financial management and information systems to the new tax environment. The necessary changes are also set to impact professional capacities – accountants will need additional training, and the job market may even see a surge in tax adviser vacancies.”

Dubai’s free zones have become a force to reckon with in the local and international economic arena, and currently contribute a significant 33 per cent to the emirate’s GDP – on a par with global standards, Al Zarouni continued. Nearly 39 per cent of this contribution is generated by the emirate’s exports, with free zones playing a critical role in attracting foreign direct investment, he added.

The 24 free zones in Dubai host over 30,000 companies with 330,000 employees. The UAE is home to 40 free zones, the highest number in the region, representing about 25 per cent of all free zones in Arab countries worldwide.