Regulatory changes which we foresee post pandemic

April 14, 2020
By Ken Dixon

The full nature and extent of the Covid 19 pandemic is as yet unknown and, beyond pure speculation, indeterminable. What is certain however is that the consequences will be far reaching, likely to endure for some time, and that change is inevitable.

Across the globe the personal movement restrictions have resulted in the closure of businesses and the effective grinding to a halt of the economies of whole nations. As the pandemic continues the UAE law makers have been forced to apply a reactive approach in addition to their typically proactive stance, to continuously re-assess the position and amend and make additional regulations to restrict the spread of the virus.

Regulatory changes to stimulate the economy

What seems reasonably certain is that once the pandemic is over or under manageable control, that governments around the world will need to do everything in their power to kick start, stimulate and assist in the regrowth of trade and businesses. The one way in which this will be done is through regulatory changes. The UAE is no exception and as its population is primarily composed of expats, these regulatory changes will be heavily influenced by a desire to retain the primarily foreign workforce and attract foreign investment

During the course of the pandemic we have seen several regulatory changes made in the UAE to assist in easing the obvious impact on businesses in the UAE. The government announced the introduction of its official portal (  aimed at providing remote “end to end” digital services to enable working smartly and efficiently, unrestricted by office hours or personal interaction.

At the end of March the UAE Cabinet issued Ministerial Decree Number 20-2020, which introduced reductions on official fees applicable to in excess of one hundred different services of the UAE Ministry of Economy.

Incentives have not only been introduced for businesses operating outside of the Free Zones. The Dubai Free Zones Council has introduced a stimulus package which includes rental payment deferrals for periods of up to up to six months, reimbursement/release of security deposits and guarantees, the waiver of penalties and measures to allow for certain payments in monthly installments.

Will the recent regulatory changes remain after the pandemic?

Whether the regulatory changes introduced will remain after the pandemic is over will remain to be seen, but it is highly likely that they will, at least for a certain period of time, and that others will also be introduced to assist in business re-generation in the UAE.

There are many free zones in the UAE many which, for one reason or another could be seen as “competing” with each other. Although competition undoubtedly assists in ensuring market efficiencies, there may be advantages to the consolidation of some of these free zones, resulting in substantial administrative savings and efficiencies. Could we see regulatory amendments to achieve this post Covid-19?

Remote working was a necessity which was thrust upon many as a result of the precautionary measures introduced in the UAE, and indeed globally, to assist in the fight against the virus. Many businesses have needed to update and modify IT systems, communication channels and standard operating procedures to cope with these remote working measures.

As many people adopted these and grew accustomed to working in this way, new procedures and efficiencies developed out of necessity. It could well be that these new working mechanisms are formally adopted (and enshrined in legislation) and we develop more of a remote/online approach to working and operating businesses. This may well result in the creation of more online and virtual platforms, a reduction of required manpower to staff businesses and substantial changes, certainly to some types of businesses, to the employment laws applicable to those types of businesses.