Home » Expat Focus International News Update January 2023

Expat Focus International News Update January 2023

New legislation for non-Islamic expats in the UAE

The UAE has recently brought in new laws relating to the personal status of non-Islamic expats, primarily with regard to marriage and divorce. The Federal Personal Status Law also clarifies questions surrounding inheritance, procedures for post-divorce financial claims, paternity tests and custody of children. If this new law applies to you in any way, it’s a good idea to consult the local legal counsel.

Kuwait ends expat teachers’ employment

As part of a move towards further localisation policies, Kuwait said it would end the employment of an ‘unspecified’ number of foreign teachers in late 2022, in order to replace them with local employees. The Kuwaiti Minister of Education, Hamad Al Adwani, in an article in the Gulf Times, stated:

“After examinations of the current school year, the services of a number of non-Kuwaiti teachers will be terminated at all stages of public and private education in specialities where there are large numbers of national replacements. This aims at enabling Kuwaiti teachers to do these jobs, thus helping unemployment rates to go down and provide larger numbers of work opportunities for the Kuwaiti citizens.”

Visa renewals in Dubai

Travel agents say that visit visa holders in Dubai will currently not be able to renew their visas within the country – including permits issued in Dubai itself. You must now leave the country and apply for your visa outside the UAE. This is as a result of a reversion to a pre-pandemic policy. Prior to Covid-19, renewing visitor visas from outside the country was the norm, but the policy was changed during the pandemic for pragmatic and humanitarian concerns. This was only supposed to be a temporary measure, and it has now come to an end. If you’re travelling to and from Dubai, double check with your travel agency on the newest rules in place, and make sure you don’t overstay your visa once you’re in the country.

International wealth management – assessment of 2022

Despite the twin global woes of the immediate post-pandemic period plus the war in Ukraine, Chase Buchanan Wealth Management reports a positive year for wealth management for expats across the globe. The company itself has expanded its offices to 10 locations in 2022, with new outposts in Malta, Spain, Tenerife and Belgium.

The number of Private Wealth Managers at the company has increased by 16% and tax consultants by 40%. Chase Buchanan says the demand for financial advice among expats has risen in the post-pandemic period, as more people decide to seize the moment in an uncertain climate and make a move abroad. The company also says that it is intending to expand into more expat hubs in 2023.

Bali ‘shakes up’ visa rules

Expats, including a number of retirees, could find that Bali’s shake-up of visa regulations could cause difficulties as we move into 2023. Indonesia’s Directorate of General Immigration announced the changes in October of 2022. Retirees who are in the country under KITAS will have to show that they have property worth $200K or the same amount in savings. Expats say that they either do not have the money or are not comfortable keeping so large a sum in an Indonesian bank for a decade without the certainty of permanent residency.

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Some expats are considering relocating to other Asian nations, such as Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam. Director General Widodo Ekatjahjana has said:

“This immigration policy is one of the non-fiscal incentives that can be a stimulus for certain foreigners to stay and contribute positively to the Indonesian economy amidst increasingly dynamic global economic conditions.”

In other words, the Indonesian government is aiming at high end tourism and the kind of ‘golden visa’ arrangement that are becoming increasingly common throughout the world, in order to attract wealthier residents into the country.

Dubai suspends alcohol tax

As part of a series of more liberal initiatives, Dubai is trialling a more tolerant approach to alcohol by suspending the 30% alcohol tax for a year, although VAT will still apply. Licensing regulations have also been loosened, making it easier to buy alcohol in the state from the start of 2023. This is primarily to attract tourists and expats to Dubai, which is currently emphasising a less socially restrictive approach in comparison to other Arabic states.

The Arabic world generally is overhauling its taxation, in an effort to boost non-oil revenue. Dubai itself does not apply income tax, but it is planning to introduce a 9% corporate tax on profits exceeding 375,000 dirhams ($102,100) from June 2023. Other states are looking at the introduction of VAT, but overall the Middle East is aiming to open up further to tourism and international events, after the World Cup was held in Qatar, for example. Ras al-Khaimah is looking to host the region’s first casino in 2026, at a new resort, and Saudi Arabia is hosting the Red Sea Project as part of its Vision 2030 – an enormous tourist destination with its own airport.

Fodor: the ‘No’ list

Travel experts Fodor have recently published their latest ‘no’ list – destinations which you should reconsider visiting due to their environmental, cultural or social status. The ‘no’ list includes countries which have dubious human rights records, or locations which are so environmentally fragile they would benefit from being left alone, like Thailand’s Maya Bay, which was closed to tourism after an influx of visitors (generated by the location’s appearance in the film ‘The Beach’).

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment reports that the closure of national parks during the pandemic was so beneficial to the areas concerned that they’ve now issued a directive that all national parks, including some beaches, must close for one month in every year. In some places, tourist fees may be introduced in order to off-set funds spent on restoring biodiversity.

Thailand is not alone in appearing on the ‘no’ list. Cornwall is included and so are Paris, Dubrovnik, Venice, and Lake Tahoe in California.