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Tips For U.S. Business Success In United Arab Emirates

March 5, 2008

HOUSTON (February 12, 2008)-  Few Americans truly understand the Persian Gulf confederation called the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Yet, the UAE's $130 billion in annual oil revenues, as well as a unique geographical location and a favorable business climate, makes the UAE an attractive market for U.S.-based energy, oil and gas, financial service and consumer goods companies. Attendees at a Feb. 12 breakfast briefing hosted by Bracewell & Giuliani LLP learned from partner David M. Stockwell, Managing Partner of Bracewell's Dubai office, and other Bracewell lawyers, how to meet the unique challenges of doing business in the UAE.

“A recent assessment by a major consulting company ranked the UAE as one of the ten most attractive foreign investment markets in the world, a fact symbolized by energy and construction giant Haliburton’s relocation of its headquarters to Dubai,” Mr. Stockwell says. “Yet the UAE only offers market and profit opportunity to those investors who truly understand the ins and outs of doing business there.”

“Our firm has advised clients about doing business in many regions of the world, from Latin America and Europe to Central and East Asia,” Mr. Stockwell continued.  “The legal, regulatory, tax and cultural factors necessary for business success vary from country to country, but the one constant is that developing advance knowledge of a country’s business conditions and requirements is a prerequisite for successful business operations.”

“There is no one-size-fits-all answer to engaging in commercial operations in the UAE,” said Bracewell partner Ron I. Erlichman, a member of Bracewell's International Business Group. “Every company’s circumstances and objectives are unique, and their UAE business approach should reflect that.”

Observing certain insider’s tips will make it easier for American businesses in Dubai to succeed.  Some of the key issues noted by John Couch during the discussion, a Bracewell International Tax partner who recently relocated to the Dubai office, include:

• U.S. laws on such matters as export controls, foreign corruption and anti-boycott regulations must be observed, even in the UAE.
• There is increasing pressure for companies to employ UAE nationals, who comprise a mere ten percent of the population.
• Foreign real estate ownership is limited to certain designated locations.
• While there are generally no corporate taxes in the UAE, hidden imposts do exist
• There are no restrictions on repatriation of capital and earnings – and the UAE’s currency is tied to the dollar, although the pegging of the UAE Dirham to the U.S. Dollar is currently being revisited.

“Most important,” Mr. Erlichman concludes, “as with most foreign markets, sensitivity to cultural nuances are vital when dealing with UAE nationals and the government. Developing the relationships and mutual trust that are essential for success in the UAE will help companies take full advantage of this open and dynamic market.”

Bracewell & Giuliani Offer Tips For U.S. Business Success In United Arab Emirates