Tax accountant salaries surge as Gulf VAT-day approaches

Women walk past a shop at the Gold and Diamond Park in Dubai. The UAE and other Gulf countries are set to introduce a tax on goods from January next year. (Reuters)
Updated 14 October 2017

Tax accountant salaries surge as Gulf VAT-day approaches

LONDON: The introduction of VAT in the Gulf is stoking salaries for tax specialists across the region, according to recruitment firms.
With just over 11 weeks to go before companies start to add value added tax on their invoices, companies are busy hiring accountants with VAT expertise while big firms such as PwC run courses to meet anticipated demand.
“Candidates who are VAT specialists can expect to be paid well given the demand for their skill set and the shortage of qualified candidates with it,” Andy Georgeson, senior consultant at Michael Page Finance, told Arab News.
Salaries vary considerably but VAT managers in the UAE currently earn between 30,000 to 40,000 dirhams ($8,185-$10,890) per month — but rising considerably for senior roles in large corporations.
PwC last month introduced the first VAT diploma across the Gulf as some companies favor upskilling existing workforces rather than hiring new staff in order to get ready for the introduction of the new tax from January next year.
The need to give people the skills and knowledge to implement and comply with the new tax was, according to Amanda Line, PwC’s academy partner, why PwC introduced the VAT diploma.
“I am confident that this qualification will be fundamental in upskilling specialized tax professionals who can then prepare their organizations for VAT compliance,” Line said.
The introduction of the new tax is benefitting the Big Four accountancy firms as companies outsource tax advice to consultants, Georgeson added.
Yet despite the imminent introduction of VAT, some companies are burying their heads in the sand, said Chris Greaves, managing director of Hays in the Gulf.
“Our ‘VAT in the UAE’ report, released earlier this year, found over half of organizations based in the region did not have a strategy in place for VAT implementation.
“Of those that do, we are noticing that they are either absorbing VAT requirements into their existing workforce — some using their oversees teams for support, or outsourcing activity by engaging with external consultancies.”
He said it was difficult to predict how the introduction of VAT will affect hiring demand until it is up and running.
“There are still laws to be announced but once these are confirmed, there may well be an uplift in hiring as organizations become clearer on what they still need to achieve in order to meet the deadline.”
That view was shared by Georgeson, who added: “We are currently working on multiple VAT roles across the UAE and Saudi Arabia but we certainly expect this to grow as we get closer to the implementation date and thereafter.”
As many as 5,000 finance and accounting jobs could be generated with the introduction of VAT in the region, estimated Paul Drum, head of policy at CPA Australia.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both set VAT at a rate of 5 percent. The pair are the first to have introduced VAT legislation since all six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed in 2016 to introduce the tax.


A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.