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Dubai

The Federal Tax Authority’s (FTA) Board of Directors has formally approved implementation of the tourist refund scheme at its fifth meeting, held on Wednesday at the Dubai ruler’s court.

The meeting was headed by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.

According to the statement, the scheme includes comprehensive procedures to connect outlets and points of sale across the UAE with the refund system.

Earlier this month, the FTA’s top official, Khalid Al Bustani, told the media that tax refunds for tourists would be finalised “soon”, adding that he expected a company to be selected to handle tourist refunds in the coming weeks.

“We have tender for the selection of a tourist refund operator, and we are in the final stages now. We are waiting for the final approvals in order to finalise the contract with the operator,” Al Bustani, who is director general of the FTA, said at the time.

When asked for details on who the front-runner in the bidding process was, FTA spokespeople declined to comment.

Shaikh Hamdan said in a statement at the board meeting on Wednesday: “The UAE tax system has proven to be a great success, encouraging self-assessment, and providing an example to be emulated across the region and the world. The Federal Tax Authority’s seamless and integrated electronic system, coupled with a sophisticated world-class fiscal legislative environment, has ensured increased compliance.”

The statement made no mention of which company, if any, had been selected to administer the service, nor how much the government anticipated refunds would amount to.

Tourists visiting the UAE will be able to claim back VAT on purchases they make whilst on holiday in the country, according to the FTA’s executive regulations.

The regulations add that the refund system will only be eligible to those travelling to the UAE from outside Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.