DUBAI, UAE - One of the most influential businessmen in the United Arab Emirates has called on the government to consider shelving the VAT, a value-added-tax which commenced this year.
VAT was introduced to most Gulf countries, including the UAE, from January 1 2018. The tax in the Emirates is set at 5%.
Billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor, the Founding Chairman of Al Habtoor Group, told the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National, the tax is damaging the economy.
“The VAT came at the wrong time,” Mr Al Habtoor said. “Our government should reconsider and postpone it. Cancelling it for the time being would be an excellent step."
Mr Al Habtoor, in a wide-ranging interview with The National published on Monday, also took issue with pronouncements and directions from the International Monetary Fund.
“We have our own rules and regulations. We don’t need somebody from thousands of miles away to come and tell us what we are supposed to do,” he said.
The prominent businessman is also opposed to the UAE's ban on WhatsApp, but supports his country's warming of ties with China.
"EWe have to improve opur business with China. This is the fututre," he told The National.
"We have to work with them and we have to sell to them. They are spending a lot of m,oney here and we want to sell them everythning," he said.
What started out as a small engineering firm in 1970, the Al Habtoor Group today one of the region’s largest and most respected conglomerates with interests in the hospitality, automotive, car leasing, real estate, education and publishing sectors.
Last week Mr Al Habtoor hosted Christopher J. Nassetta, the President and CEO of Hilton at a private reception in Dubai. The meeting came just months after the Al Habtoor Group and Hilton sealed a franchise agreement for three hotels at the multi-use development: Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts; V Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton; and Hilton Dubai, Al Habtoor City.
“The Al Habtoor Group owns fourteen unique hotels located in iconic destinations across the world. We are proud to have Hilton as a strategic and trusted partner for eight of our hotels. I am entrusting the crown jewel of our Habtoor Hospitality portfolio into the care of Mr Nassetta and his team at Hilton, and I am confident that it will be an even bigger success with our new partnership,” he said.