Nedbank eyes further Middle East expansion

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Nedbank eyes further Middle East expansion

Nedbank has said it sees 'opportunities for expansion in the UAE' following the country's successful handling of the pandemic.

Nedbank opened its representative office in Dubai in 2011, and made the announcement to mark its 10th anniversary in the UAE.

Andrew Bates, head of private banking for the Middle East, said: "While we clearly identified multiple opportunities in the region from the outset, we have been surprised by the development of the financial sector and particularly recently. In addition, there is an increased scope for growth emerging as the region seeks to rotate away from oil as its predominant source of wealth."

While we clearly identified multiple opportunities in the region from the outset, we have been surprised by the development of the financial sector and particularly recently."

"The UAE authorities are clearly thinking strategically about the future sustainability of the country's appeal and Dubai's as a financial hub. This was clear from the introduction of five and ten-year long-term residency visas in 2019, as well as the more recent ‘right to retire' initiative, and the extension of citizenship on an invitation-only basis, provided appropriate capital criteria is met. We may already be seeing these impact property prices, which, particularly for family villas, have started to buck the recent trend that saw values soften."

Foreign residents account for more than 80% of the population of the UAE's seven emirates and, while they have been a mainstay of the economy for decades, the requirement for employment-led visas has remained consistent. In 2019, the UAE authorities approved the issuance of five- and ten-year residency visas, which are automatically renewed.

In 2020, the Dubai government offered individuals over the age of 55 the chance to ‘Retire in Dubai' through a structured scheme. In January 2021, the UAE announced plans to extend citizenship to named individuals to attract talent and boost economic growth.

Meanwhile, the recent decision by Oman to progress with an income tax may mark the start of other GCC countries considering new taxes, following a similar pattern to the introduction of VAT across the region.

The UK-headquartered provider sees taxation supporting the growth of the wealth management sector, as the need for planning, to help clients achieve better long-term outcomes for their wealth, increases as individuals' finances become more complex.

The firm's 10th anniversary comes at a time when Nedbank Private Wealth sees opportunities expanding in the UAE due to its handling of the pandemic. The country is ahead of all developed nations, bar Israel, in its inoculation programme, and is on track to have vaccinated half its population by the end of March 2021.

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.