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Dubai Abulhoul: Fully Supporting the Implementation of VAT is Not a Question, But a National Obligation
January 09, 2018
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The 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) that we, as Emiratis, will pay from now on pales in comparison to, and cannot even be equated with, all that our country has given us, and will continue to give us, throughout our lives

Exclusive to The Gulf Today

Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in the UAE last week, in accordance with the Unified VAT Agreement for the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf. Over 150 countries in the world have already implemented Value Added Tax (VAT) on their goods and services, including Singapore, Australia, and all members of the European Union. Globally, revenue generated from Value Added Tax (VAT) has been most commonly used to fund health services, public protection, social housing, education, and research development. The rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UAE, currently at 5%, is relatively low in comparison to other countries. The standard rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the UK, for example, is currently at 20%.

The UAE, at both the Federal and Emirate level, provides public services of the highest standards, which include, but are not limited to, education, healthcare, infrastructure, waste management, road maintenance, public parks as well as police and social services. The above public services have been fully funded by the UAE government for the past 46 years. Value Added Tax (VAT) will provide the UAE with an additional source of income to contribute to the continuous delivery of its first-rate public services, while at the same time reducing its dependency on hydrocarbons as a source of revenue.

My experience as a graduate student currently studying abroad reminds me every day that the public services we are provided with in the UAE are truly exceptional. I recently flew back home for the winter break, and visited one of my favourite fast food restaurants. I left my laptop and personal belongings on the table I was sitting at to get what I ordered, without thinking twice about the possibility of being robbed, despite how busy the restaurant was. I am in no way encouraging anyone to leave their belongings unattended in a public place, I am only using this simple example to illustrate the level of safety and security we enjoy in our country, which falls under the larger umbrella of public services we are provided with on a daily basis.

I found the way in which people in the UAE first reacted to the implementation of VAT, especially on social media platforms, to be quite surprising. With the clock barely striking noon on January 1st, Twitter and Instagram feeds were flooded with reactions to, and complaints about, people’s first experiences with paying for Value Added Tax (VAT). The 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) that we, as Emiratis, will pay from now on pales in comparison to, and cannot even be equated with, all that our country has given us, and will continue to give us, throughout our lives. In fact, it is the least we can do in an attempt to give back to the continuous growth of the country that raises, educates, and takes care of us every single day, even though no monetary sum or amount will ever be able to match its efforts.

How beautiful is it that each and every one of us is now an integral part of advancing our country’s economic diversification efforts? Every single purchase we make from now on in our country is all the more meaningful, given that it will now directly help our country broaden its sources of revenue, as it transitions into a more diverse economy. Fully supporting the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) in our country is not a question, but a national duty and obligation, for both nationals and expatriates alike.

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The author is an Emirati novelist-writer

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