‘Imminent’ regulatory changes within the United Arab Emirates will not be fully enacted until at least 2019, possibly not until 2020, according to Robert Parker, chief executive of Dubai-based financial advisory Holborn Assets.
Speaking exclusively to International Investment, in this special video report (below), Parker said that he welcomes change, but very much against the general flow of opinion that these “imminent” changes will take effect any time soon.
“I’m going to go out on a limb. I don’t see this white paper being enacted until at least 2019, possibly not until 2020,” he said.
The reason for that is to do with the unique way in which business is conducted in the region he says: “As with everything that happens in the UAE and, for that matter, the wider GCC, one must consider the role of the biggest families who control commerce.
“In Bahrain, for instance, AXA, formerly Norwich Union, is 50% owned by the Kanoo family where there has been a 50-year association. And, similarly, in UAE, there are big, powerful families who control major business interests.
“I’m certainly not saying that it is right or wrong. We love the way that UAE works and it is a great place to do business. But there must be consultation that takes into account this reality that families here have powerful interests. It’s simply different to how business is done in the west – look at the amount of lobbying by industry that goes on in the US, for instance – there is no difference here.
“So the IA has a very different role to [UK regulator] the FCA.
“All of the big families meet, they talk to the regulator, they go away, they think, they have another meeting, then they go off to consider, then it’s Ramadan, then there’s another meeting… everything moves so slowly,” he said.
Parker also highlights the fact that the decision is not formal until it is ‘gazetted’. Nothing will happen until then, and even after it is published in the Official Gazette, which takes “a minimum of six months”.
This interview was taken from International Investment’s recent Dubai special ezine that also included exclusive interviews with some of the regions biggest advisory firms and product providers. Click here to view the international edition.