Doing Business in the Middle East: A JD Supra Legal Reader

For your reference, here’s a roundup of recent legal advisories on the broad topic of doing business in the Middle East:

Iraq

Iraq Perspectives – May 2012 (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

“Iraq is recovering from decades of war, sanctions and domestic unrest, and the country is in urgent need of all types of infrastructure — including power, manufacturing, transportation, telecommunications, housing, healthcare, and water. With Iraq’s oil production and exports on the rise, Iraq is now in a position to move forward with these projects, for which it will need significant foreign investment. In this article, the first in a series, we consider some of the key issues involved in project finance in Iraq, particularly with respect to the challenges associated with land ownership by foreign investors and the impact that this has on project finance structures.” Read the update>>

Qatar

Qatar Law Q&A: Property Law Overview – May 2012 (Patton Boggs LLP)

“Qatar does not have a single, codified, source of property law. Instead, a collection of laws, ministerial decrees and resolutions, dating back to 1963, constitute the country’s jurisprudence on the subject. The general rule in Qatar is set forth in Law No. (5) of 1963, which provides that only Qataris may own freehold estates while non-Qataris have no such right. Law No. (14) of 1964, meanwhile, establishes a system of registering legal instruments that affect land title (the functional equivalent to a recording statute). When read together, these two laws form the legal foundation of Qatar’s regime for acquisition and registration of property.” Read the update>>

Qatar Law Q&A: Tax Matters (Patton Boggs LLP)

“How Favourable is the Tax Regime in Qatar? The most favourable in the world. That is, according to the 2009 Forbes Tax Misery and Reform Index, which ranked countries in terms of the harshness of their tax regimes. The index took account of Qatar’s recent tax legislation, effective from 1 January 2010, which replaced a tax rate of 10-35 percent on foreign-owned businesses with a flat rate of 10 percent (except for oil and gas operations) as described in more detail below. Withholding tax and transfer pricing were also introduced.” Read the update>>

Qatar Law Q&A: Commercial Agency Matters in Qatar (Patton Boggs LLP)

“There is no express restriction on the conduct of product import and distribution into the State of Qatar in the absence of a registered commercial agency agreement. However, certain agency arrangements are required to be registered in order for the agent and principal to receive the benefits offered by registration. Moreover, a foreign party must either register a commercial presence in Qatar with the Ministry of Business and Trade and obtain the applicable customs license, or sell to or appoint a party that is so registered and licensed, in order to effect imports into the State of Qatar.” Read the update>>

United Arab Emirates

The Expansion of the Jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts (Bracewell & Giuliani LLP)

“The UAE Courts are incredibly guarded in respect of their jurisdiction. Consequently where commercial or civil disputes with a nexus (whether, for example, by virtue of place of contract performance or the identity of the contracting parties) to the UAE have been subject to foreign law and jurisdiction clauses, and overseas litigation, a party seeking to enforce an overseas judgment in such circumstances in the UAE has typically been frustrated. This is generally a result of the UAE Courts determining that the subject matter of such overseas judgment should have been within the confines of their jurisdiction.” Read the update>>

Protecting Your Trademark in the UAE (Michael Diaz Jr.)

“The Government of the UAE has taken commendable steps to put in place robust trademark laws. The current approach to the protection of trademarks and the mechanisms through which this protection is carried out in the UAE are very similar to those used in Western jurisdictions and will be familiar to many business managers already acquainted with intellectual property issues. The [UAE Federal] Trademark Law contains a range of provisions outlining the procedural steps required to register a trademark and the penalties for breach.” Read the update>>

Saudi Arabia

Opportunities for Renewable Energy Projects in Saudi Arabia (Reed Smith)

“While traditionally regarded solely as the world’s premier producer of oil, Saudi Arabia has recently started to look at alternative sources for its energy consumption, and, maybe not surprisingly, renewable energy ranks high on the list: the country has very high levels of solar irradiance and huge areas of desert, which make it an ideal location for solar projects, along with other renewable energy projects. The Saudi plans are very ambitious and many investors believe this is a good opportunity to get involved in this market.” Read the update>>

Construction in Saudi Arabia: the Next Big Thing? (Ben Cowling)

“The [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] is an Islamic state with a system of Shari’ah law. In contrast to surrounding countries, however, the KSA has not enacted a ‘civil code’ that codifies rights and obligations arising from contracts and other commercial relationships. This means that, subject to some significant areas where regulations have been passed (such as government procurement), the law applying to commercial transactions is a set of broad Islamic principles. Fortunately, such principles recognise parties’ freedom to contract on whatever terms they see fit, subject to matters that are expressly prohibited by Shari’ah.” Read the update>>

Turkey

Recent Developments in Real Estate Acquisition by Foreign Nationals (Burak Gencoglu)

“Real estate and limited real rights acquisitions by foreign nationals, either natural persons or legal entities, are regulated by the Land Registry Law No 2644. In this regard the Land Registry Law article 35 and 36 have a great importance for foreign nationals who wish to purchase real estate within the borders of Turkey. The Turkish government has been working on a draft law which will restructure the current articles concerning foreign acquisitions… The previous form of the law restricted foreigners through a reciprocity principle and by the real estate’s acreage. Essentially, a foreign national had to be a citizen of a country which should have reciprocity with Turkey while secondly the real estate had to have an acreage of up to 2.5 hectares.” Read the update>>

A Bumper Year for Islamic Finance (Burak Gencoglu)

“The Turkish financial market maintained its constant development in 2011 and recent reports from reputable international financial institutions project that this development will continue in 2012. In 2011, Sukuk was introduced to the Turkish market by a participation bank, Kuveyt Turk Katilim Bankasi… Another significant development for the Turkish legal and financial system is the new Turkish Commercial Code and Code of Obligations, which will both enter into force on the 1st July 2012.” Read the update>>

Cyprus

Cross-border IPOs and listings – A Cyprus Perspective (Harney Westwood & Riegels)

“Over the past decade, Cyprus has successfully attracted foreign investment by offering a tax effective holding company regime. With the introduction of a single European passport for securities, investors can now forum shop for their jurisdiction of choice to locate their holding company. The advantages for such a structure are two fold: (i) it consolidates the ownership of the investments in operating subsidiaries (a tax driven exercise) in one holding company; and (ii) it allows such company to raise finance or list its shares in the chosen jurisdiction.” Read the update>>

Cyprus Hydrocarbons Exploration and Exploitation: Licensing for Natural Resources in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (Cyprus Law Firm Anastasios Antoniou LLC)

“Exploration for oil and gas offshore the Republic of Cyprus is certainly in a developing phase and the opportunity for involvement is currently at its highest levels. A considerable amount of geophysical data that is publicly available, the stable business and political environment and the tax efficiencies (zero taxation on revenues from offshore hydrocarbon exploitation) result in Cyprus becoming a jurisdiction attracting worldwide interest in the energy industry.” Read the update>>

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