Business and immigration trends in Dubai – interview with Discus Holdings’ local representative Dr János Rinfel 27/06/2019

Interview with Dr János Rinfel lawyer, (representative of Discus Holdings Ltd in Dubai) about the citizenship and residency by investment solutions’market and the advantages of living and forming a company in the United Arab Emirates. 

Before joining the team of experts at Discus Holdings Ltd, he worked at one of the Big Fours’ corporate legal departments. János has more than five years of legal experience in international financial and legal counselling. His actual field of work and expertise are counselling and providing legal, financial services (including second citizenship and company formation). 

His primary task of managing and developing the office, expanding the client base and providing legal support to local customers. It is an important task as well to keep in touch with the foreign offices and to present the services of Discus Holdings Ltd, and additionally to keep in touch with the agents and introducers. 

Dubai is both a sending and a host country in international immigration, are you working in both directions?

Of course, if our clients come and wish to use a citizenship or residency service, the reason to do so is that their foreign interests will increase now or soon.

I think that if you have a company that has already reached the international market and can establish the global presence, it is a massive advantage if you can manage your company without encountering obstacles like visa management, which slows down participation in the international business environment.  It is much easier to keep up within Schengen or in the United States and even here in the Gulf-region if you have a passport that facilitates your business. There are countless examples that for example our client should be in Hamburg the next day for a deal, but will fail to reach the objective because he or she must still get a visa. So it takes money and several weeks.  While if they had a passport in hand, which let them take the next plane to attend tomorrow this critical business meeting, it would make their professional life significantly easier. 

Another aspect, when local clients see the potential in a European citizenship or residency program from a family planning perspective because it has to be understood that European universities are at the forefront of the world, has a lot to gain if someone comes to the EU or obtains European citizenship, think about scholarship and accommodation as well. 

In Germany, entering a university’s dormitory does not depend on wealth, but on being a German or an EU citizen, who are at the top of the list and primarily being allowed to stay.  Moreover, in some countries, higher or tertiary education is free. If someone invests in a passport, there are many other benefits that children can enjoy, in fact, it is an investment in their future.

It is hereby also reminded that we can offer citizenship by investment programs in European countries that plan to join the European Union and the Schengen agreement in the near future, like Montenegro.

On the other hand, we have several clients who want to come to Dubai and want a citizenship or residence permit to travel freely in Dubai or the region.

According to the visa agreements of the Emirates, there are some passports, which allows its holders to stay up to 90 days in Dubai as tourists.  Also, some clients wish to form a company here and plan to obtain the residency permit and settle here, but this process has strict conditions, housing needs to be verified, the applicant needs a sponsor (most often an employer), and a visa for husband, wife and family is a must.  So, getting an entry visa and residence permit is one of our most important tasks, and in many cases, the clients intend to do business in the region and not directly in Dubai. To be able to do so, they need a passport that allows them to travel more freely and facilitate the development of their business.

Is there a trend in immigration that is particularly popular in Dubai?

Recently, there have been many requests for longer-term travels, the solution to extend their staying or to get business contacts in Europe, that is the prime objective, and many are looking for opportunities to be able to enter the Schengen area.

The time factor is especially important, and speed is a huge advantage. If we can recommend an immigration program that will be completed within 2-4 months and the document that allows the freedom of travel, such options are welcome on the local market. In these cases, I usually recommend the Vanuatu Development Support Program which is currently the most cost-effective and fastest citizenship program available worldwide. Obtaining a passport takes only 7–8 weeks and it allows visa-free travel to 129 countries, including the EU, UK, Ireland, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Caribbean, and most Commonwealth countries, as well as to Australia with a special e-visa.

On the other hand, regarding the citizenship by investment programs significant issues are the amount of investment and the service fees, these factors may help not to move such large amounts of assets, and the legal structure must be transparent and not complicated. In many cases the candidates do not like the real estate investment option, a single donation to the state in exchange for the passport looks more attractive since the process is straightforward, a unique international transfer fulfils the requirements for the citizenship. Trust that our professional and legal fees are very competitive on the market.

Who is coming to Dubai and what kind of business solutions are the most interesting for them?

Dubai is the Monaco of the Arabian Gulf; this is an oasis in the vast desert, the tax environment, the quality of life, the people who live here. Because it is a transit city, you can do business here very quickly. Dubai is very accessible, there are four international airports in the city, and it is a community space for people coming here. People come to do business, or on holiday because work can be done here in a dazzling holiday, Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. So there is another positive feature to be able to build their businesses in complete safety. There are many Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese, and Iranian businesspeople in the region with local interests. Ninety-three per cent of the population is foreign; the European community is massive here, and there is a significant Australian community. There are many Central Europeans from Europe, Slavic, Balkan and Hungarian expats. 

This multicultural population forges an international environment where the parties can meet. As a transit city, it is straightforward to organise a business tour with Dubai as the centre. The local service providers are waiting for clients with luxury services. They want you to feel special from the first moment you arrive in the city. 

Is Dubai a tax haven?

5% VAT is low. Meanwhile, at the beginning of 2019, the government announced that there would be no tax increases and they will not levy new taxes in the next three years, it will be a very predictable period for business planning, and there is no need to worry about any new burdens which can affect the spendings. It should also be seen that the administrative duty for companies is not as heavy as in European countries. It should not be misunderstood, the laws are strict, and all regulations must be adhered to during the operation of the companies, but these conditions do not feel so burdensome to the entrepreneurs as in European countries, I am thinking of the audit obligation or the annual report.

Moreover, the local Free Zones have different regulatory structures, so it is always worth consulting with an expert who can help you choose the right Free Zone for your business. There are also significant differences in the timing of administration. Concerning Europe, the double taxation conventions improved the relationship between Dubai and the EU Member States. Hungary has, for example, an extraordinarily beneficial DTA with the Emirates. 

There are many tax benefits if you can do business in Dubai. This Emirate is a transit city, but the number of settled businesspeople is growing fast. The government also issues regulations to make Dubai more attractive, such as the visa for ten years, some experts received their visas for ten years and not the previous permit for two or three years. This incentive policy gives the professionals a sense of security and the trend is ongoing and seems to be spreading over the long term in Dubai so that everyone can make a good deal here. 

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