Value-Added Tax in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia Effective as of Today, Monday, January 1, 2018

Visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia became more expensive as of today, Monday, January 1, 2018 as a new value-added tax became effective in both countries, increasing the cost of most goods and services by five percent.

Value-Added Tax in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia Effective as of Today, Monday, January 1, 2018

Stays at hotel and resort properties — as well as purchases of food and gasoline — are affected by the new tax, which was implemented to increase revenue. The new tax is estimated to result in an estimated income of approximately $3.3 billion to the United Arab Emirates in 2018 alone.

Meanwhile — according to this article at SBS World News, which is the news service of the Special Broadcasting Service in Australia — “Saudi Arabia compounded the New Year blow for motorists with an unannounced hike of up to 127 percent in petrol prices with immediate effect from midnight.” As a result, low-grade gasoline now costs an average of $1.66 per gallon.

“In Saudi Arabia, this included a tax on tobacco and soft drinks as well as a cut in some subsidies offered to locals”, according to this article from New Delhi Television, which is more popularly known as NDTV. “In the UAE, road tolls were hiked and a tourism tax was introduced.”

The countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have delayed the implementation of a value-added tax until sometime in early 2019.

Summary

If you thought that visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia was expensive prior to today, be prepared for some additional “sticker shock” — such as visiting At The Top, Burj Khalifa SKY, at which ticket prices increased to 530 United Arab Emirates dirhams, which is equivalent to almost $145.00 United States dollars.

For comparison purposes, I spent 500 United Arab Emirates dirhams — which at that time was equivalent to approximately $136.00 United States dollars — when I experienced At The Top, Burj Khalifa SKY in June of 2015. This article explains the reasons why I do not recommend the “premium” experience — and this article documents the official response to my communication from the entities responsible for the disappointing “premium” experience.

If you must go to the observation deck of Burj Khalifa, spend significantly less money on the regular At The Top experience, which is as low as 130 United Arab Emirates dirhams or approximately $35.50 United States dollars.

I would not be the least bit surprised if tourism to the United Arab Emirates decreased as a result of the new value-added tax — although citizens of that country must pay it on goods and services as well as visitors.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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