Archive for the ‘Dubai and regional news’ category

Saturday 9 November will be a National Holiday, Synergy Software Systems offices will be closed

November 7th, 2019

Saturday 9 November (12th of Rabi Al Awwal) will be a National Holiday to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Synergy Software Systems offices in: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar will be closed.

Mohammad (PBUH) was an Arab religious, social and political leader and the founder of Islam. He was a prophet, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Muhammad (PBUH)united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.

The name Mohammad (PBUH )means “praiseworthy” and appears four times in the Quran. Mohammad’s birthday is celebrated as a major feast throughout the Islamic world,( excluding Wahhabi-influenced Saudi Arabia where these public celebrations are discouraged). When Muslims say or write the name of Muhammad (PBUH), they usually follow it with the Arabic phrase ṣallā llahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam (may God honor him and grant him peace) or the English phrase peace be upon him
In casual writing, the abbreviations SAW (for the Arabic phrase) or PBUH (for the English phrase) are sometimes used; in printed matter, a small calligraphic rendition is commonly used.

A happy and prosperous Diwali from Synergy Software Sytems

October 27th, 2019

Synergy Ladies’ celebrating Diwali.

Wishing you a Happy Diwali.
Doubt is like darkness, Trust is like light,
There is no way to destroy light by throwing darkness in to it.
So come together and enjoy the festival of lights
.

SnapLogic iPasS integration as a service – from Synergy Software Systems.

October 20th, 2019

Business Intelligence Managers/Analysts, Data/ETL Engineers, and Information/Data Architects are tasked with empowering business users to make use of
data to drive smart decisions and innovations. Data-driven initiatives can be challenging considering the explosion of data volumes due to the proliferation of sensors, IoT, and mobile computing.

Moreover, a growing number of groups within the business want access to fresh data.

To fully harness their data, organizations must also have a cloud strategy for their digital transformation efforts, namely to migrate data from
on-premises environments to the cloud. Considering the tremendous business value of unlocking that data, it’s imperative to prioritize and streamline these
data integration and migration projects.

Gone are the days when IT needed hundreds of coders to build extract, transform, load (ETL) solutions and then maintain those by writing more code. Modern integration platforms eliminate the need for custom coding. Now, data integration projects deploy and scale, often as much as ten times faster.

iPaaS platforms ease the pain because they’re designed for flexibility and ease of deployment for any integration project. A drag-and-drop UX coupled with a powerful platform and hundreds of pre-built connectors out of the box.

The connectors are always up-to-date, so the IT organization doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time maintaining every integration by hand. This saves an incredible amount of time, money, and frustration across the team and projects and greatly reduces risk.

Not all integration platforms are created equal. Some do simple point-to-point cloud app integrations while others transform large and complex data into a data lake for advanced analytics. Some stgill require extensive developer resources to hand-code APIs while others provide self-service, drag-and-drop offerings that can be used by IT and business leaders alike. Some are best for specific tactical projects while others provide a strategic, enterprise-wide platform for multi-year digital transformation projects.

Organizations must address four key steps during the data migration and integration process:
1. Capture data that supports both the known use cases as well as future undefined use cases (think IoT data to support a future machine learning
enabled use case).
2. Conform inbound data to corporate standards to ensure governance, quality, consistency, regulatory compliance, and accuracy for downstream
consumers.
3. Refine data for its eventual downstream application and/or use cases (once its been captured and conformed to corporate standards).
4. Delivery of data needs to be broad and prepared to support future unknown destinations.

For decades, IT has been tasked to manage integration projects by writing tons of custom code. This onerous task is even more complex with the proliferation of SaaS applications, the surge in big data, the emergence of IoT, and the rise of mobile devices. IT’s integration backlog has exploded. Not only is the deployment too much work, but there is a growing cost to maintain all of the integrations.

Deploying a tactical or departmental data warehouse solution should take days, not months. Moreover, enterprise-wide data transformation projects should take months, not years.

The best data integration platforms:
- Support multiple app and data integration use cases across cloud, on-premises, and hybrid deployments
- Offer the flexibility to be used in cloud, hybrid, or on-premises environments, regardless of the execution location
- Provide a self-service user experience aided by AI, machine learning, hundreds of pre-built connectors, and integration pipeline
templates (patterns) resulting in greater user productivity, and faster time-to-integration
- Have an underlying, scalable architecture to grow with evolving data and integration requirements
- Support different data modes such as streaming, event-driven, real-time or batch

The SnapLogic iPaaS offering is functionally rich and well-proven for a variety of use cases. It supports hybrid deployments and provides rich and differentiating features for analytics and big data integration (Hadooplex). Clients score SnapLogic as above average for cloud characteristics, functional completeness, ease of use and ability to meet SLAs.” Gartner

SnapLogic is a U.S.-based integration platform company. In mid-2013, it transitioned from a traditional software business to an iPaaS model with the release of the SnapLogic Elastic Integration Platform which provides a large set of native iPaaS capabilities that target the cloud service integration, analytics and big data integration use cases.

The flagship Enterprise Edition features a set of base adapters (Snaps), an unlimited number of connections and unlimited data volume.

Synergy Software Systems has been an Enterprise Solutions Integrator in the GCC since 1991. We are pleased to announce our formal partnership to represent Snap Logic in the MEA region.

Do you need to integrate with Azure? with SAP Data Warehouse Cloud? with Workday? With Odette compliant auto mamufacturers………..?.

To learn more call us on 009714 3365589

VAT update Qatar, KSA

September 10th, 2019

On 23 May 2019, Qatar’s General Tax Authority (GTA) disclosed to tax advisors in Qatar a new online tax management system known as “Dhareeba.” The new system should be available to taxpayers near the end of 2019, with all taxpayers expected to be registered before 1 January 2020, at which time Dhareeba will replace the current Tax Administrative System (TAS). PwC Qatar was invited to go through its own registration as a ‘pilot’ exercise during the last week of July 2019.

The Qatar General Tax Authority (‘GTA’) has redesigned the Tax website, allowing it to be operational in both English and Arabic. The website aims to provide vital information regarding any new taxes which may be implemented, particularly emphasizing the Excise Tax which came into effect on January 2019.

VAT is widely expected to be introduced on 1 Jan 2020. Synergy support several companies in Qatar and has a local registered company there. If you need assistance with planning VAT implementation for Dynamics Ax./Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, or Infor SunSystems then please contact us. we have already undertaken numerous VAT projects In the GCC.

You will find much useful advice in our previous blog posts.

Meanwhile today the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has suggested that the value-added tax (VAT) should be doubled from 5% to 10% in Saudi Arabia in consultation with the other Gulf countries. Analysts expect the hike in VAT rate will come only after 2021 once Kuwait and Oman will also be ready to implement it and as a customs union, the increase makes sense across the GCC countries.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia introduced the 5% value-added tax from January 2018 and both the countries surpassing their tax collection targets. So this proposed increase seems odd because it has already impacted businesses more than expected.

The Kingdom’s non-oil revenues last year increased by 59%, buoyed by the VAT, excises, expatriate levy, and proceeds from the settlement agreements. IMF estimated that the VAT rate increase will add 2.0% to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2024.

Of course, as a customs union, it is logical that GCC countries would seek to keep their VAT rates harmonized in order to prevent tax arbitrage opportunities emerging within the GCC.

“Disbursements & Reimbursements’: U.A.E. – VAT clarification

July 31st, 2019

The Federal Tax Authority (‘FTA’) has released a Public Clarification on “Disbursements & Reimbursements” which addresses how to distinguish reimbursements and disbursements, and to clarify the applicable VAT treatment.

U.A.E. businesses incur expenses and subsequently recover such expenses from another party. The VAT treatment of the subsequent recovery of expenses depends on whether the recovery is a “disbursement” or a “reimbursement”.

The first step to determine whether a recovery is a disbursement or reimbursement is to establish whether you have acted as a principal or an agent in purchasing the goods or services

General principles to determine the VAT treatment of such recoveries:
Where a taxable person acts in the capacity of an agent, the recovery would generally amount to a disbursement.
A disbursement does not constitute a supply and is,therefore, not subject to VAT

Where a taxable person acts in the capacity of a principal, the recovery would generally amount to a reimbursement.
A reimbursement is part of consideration for the supply and follows the same VAT treatment as the main supply.

Principles

* The other party (from who you are recovering such expenses) should be the recipient of the goods or services;

* The other party should be responsible for making the payment to the supplier;

* The other party should have received an invoice or tax invoice in their own name from the supplier;

* The other party should have authorized you to make the payment on his behalf;

* The goods or services paid for should clearly be additional to the supplies you make to the other party;

* he payment should separately be shown on the invoice and you should recover the exact amount paid to the supplier, without a mark-up.

* You should have contracted for the supply of goods or services in your own name and capacity;

* You should have received the goods or services from the supplier;

* The supplier should have issued the invoice in your name;

* You have the legal obligation to make payment to the supplier;

* In case of goods, you should own the goods prior to making any onward supply.

Examples

Company A procured group medical insurance from a local insurance company and received an invoice directly from the insurance company.

* Company A requested Company B to make the payment on its behalf.

* The subsequent recovery of the amount by Company B from Company A will amount to a disbursement, and would not be subject to VAT.

* Company A should ensure that the Tax Invoice is addressed to it from the insurance company and should recover the input tax through its UAE VAT return, subject to the normal input tax recovery rules.

Company A entered into a contract with Company B to provide marketing services.

* The contract stipulated that Company A would be eligible to reimburse the expenses from Company B.

* Company A incurred the expenses in its own name and subsequently recovered the amounts from Company B as per the terms of the contract.

* The recovery of expenses from Company B would follow the same VAT treatment as that of the main supply.

We recommend;

* Identify the nature of your contract and agent/principal relationships (if any) based on the above principles;
* Ensure that all disbursements have proper authorizations (contracts); and
* Re-view all inter-company disbursements/ reimbursements (cross-charges).

Calorie counts on menus in Dubai deferred.

July 22nd, 2019

Khalid Mohammad Sherif Al Awadhi, CEO of the environment, health and safety control sector at Dubai Municipality recently said that displaying calories in menus will be optional for next two years and that the Municipality decided to postpone the implementation of the rule,, “to allow enough time for the industry to prepare itself.”The Food Safety Department will continue to encourage food establishments to declare calorie content.

(In May it was announced that restaurants, cafeterias and cafes with more than five branches were expected to mandatorily display the caloric value of each and every food item from November this year. All other restaurants, catering establishments and hotels were given the deadline of January 2020 to implement the rule).

A similar postponement happened in the USA ( part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act) due to industry lobbying. For example grocery store and convenience store industries argued that the rules didn’t take into consideration the vast differences between how the various types of affected establishments operate (think fast-food restaurants versus pizza delivery chains versus gas stations). They protested the legislation would place unfair burdens on businesses that sell food and drinks that aren’t displayed on a centralized menu board, such as gas stations that may have multiple drink stations where customers can get self-serve sodas, frozen drinks, or coffee.

A number of chains, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, had already put menu labeling into effect in recent years in anticipation of the new guidelines.

Arguably one reason a lot of restaurant food tastes so good is because it’s full of fat and salt — and no restaurant wants to broadcast to its diners that they’re serving 2,000 calorie salads or 1,200 calorie milkshakes. However, In light of the global epidemics of obesity and diabetes, some believe it’s simply irresponsible for restaurants to serve burgers with more calories than an average adult human needs in a day, or lattes that have more sugar than a chocolate bar.

Whether displaying nutritional information on menus actually causes consumers to make healthier choices or not is still up for debate: Some studies indicated that calorie counts on menus don’t ahave much of an effect on what people order — but they may be somewhat effective in encouraging the restaurants themselves to offer lower-calorie foods. However, many worry about nutritional data, like eating the ‘right calories’, not eating gluten products etc.

Food establishments are free to choose the services of qualified professionals or compute the caloric value of ingredients by using third-party software. It is likely there will be a future requirement to add additional nutritional information to help customers to make informed, healthy eating choices.

If you are seeking a specialist solution to provide and manage and compute nutritional information then contact us on 097143365589

Integration as a Service – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai about Snap Logic

July 2nd, 2019

Why do companies like Adobe, AstraZeneca, Box, GameStop, OSN, Verizon, and Wendy’s choose SnapLogic?

They have a problem that many other companies are facing today. On one side, business managers rely more and more on SaaS applications and big data for daily tasks yet IT is responsible for integrating the applications. These business managers need daily access to accurate information but can’t always wait for IT. On the other side, IT is managing multiple projects, including integration requests and is working with far fewer resources. Requests can take weeks or even months to complete and business leaders can’t wait that long, so end up making decisions based on less than perfect data.

The Snaplogic Enterprise Integration Cloud comes with Iris Artificial Intelligence built in. Take away he complexity of dealing with multiple applications, big data, complex APIs, and IoT and abstract it into drag and drop components, all in one platform. SnapLogic’s Iris AI further democratizes the use of data by empowering users from all departments and teams to make data-driven decisions quickly and easily with higher accuracy. Business manager can now do their own analysis with minimal support from IT and make informed, data-backed decisions quickly.

IT people can spend less time building routine integrations and more time helping the business grow. SnapLogic is already helping many businesses with these challenges. GameStop reduced the amount of time it took to build integrations by 83%. Business processes cut across functions and applications. Transform business processes faster and stay focused on managing your business with data-driven insights rather than spend time on writing and maintaining code.

General Electric’s (now Suez Water) employees are 4 times more productive when it came to onboarding partners through its multiple systems.

AstraZeneca has more than 500 users around the world who are performing self-service integrations.

Box has connected 40 applications and is processing more than 15M transactions daily with only 1.5 full-time developers needed to support this volume.

Corporate performance management or Big data analytics from multiple, disparate corporate erp and finance systems, hybrid cloud and on premise integration, migrating to the cloud or to new software versions, IoT, T@A, EAM systems, WMS systems, Payroll systems, there are many integration challenges.

To support your digital transformation call us on 0097143365589

Oman and VAT – Ask Synergy Software Systems to help prepare and update your systems

June 30th, 2019

Oman government representatives have said that the state is looking to implement a 5% VAT regime from 1 September 2019. In 2017,
it signed the Gulf Cooperation Council VAT Framework Agreement, which included: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Local media reports in March 2019 quoted a senior official from Oman’s Ministry of Finance as saying that the date of implementation of VAT in Oman is under review. The official reportedly indicated that the target date had been 1 September 2019 but that this is not confirmed, although the intention clearly remains to implement VAT as early as possible. Businesses should take this as a cue to continue their VAT implementation plans in Oman, or restart and reinvigorate those if the work has been put on hold.

A key lesson from our experience of VAT implementation projects in UAE, KSA and Bahrain, across more than 100 companies is that companies that started their VAT planning and implementation projects early had a smoother transition to VAT, than those that waited for the final publication of the domestic law and regulations. A ‘wait and see’ approach backfired on many businesses in the UAE, KSA and Bahrain where there was minimal time between the release of the law and regulations and the go-live date for adequate training, data preparation and testing, and a shortage of resources in the market to cope with the backlog.

There are practical steps to take now. the first is to form an internal VAT working group of key stakeholders to monitor developments in VAT and ensure that VAT is on the Board agenda and is included in budget discussions. The working group will be best placed to negotiate professional services to support implementation, to train end users, and to define test scenarios, etc.

Next ensure there is VAT awareness is key – customers, vendors, and staff. Many in the region have never dealt with VAT, and a solid understanding of the mechanics, scope and terminology of the tax takes time, and that is a necessary foundation for the next steps.

Document your transaction flows . VAT is a transaction tax, with each transaction triggering a potential VAT consequence. This will help you to identify: software changes, processes to update, training needs, data collection needs, commercial document redesign, financial report redesign etc.

Review Contract to ensure they are ‘future proofed’ for the introduction of VAT. For example, to identify whether they include suitable clauses allowing VAT to be charged in addition to contractually agreed prices. The UAE VAT law clearly mandated that communication be sent to all customers within a specific timeline stipulating whether their contracts will be treated as exclusive of tax, failing which customers can dispute the tax being charged in the contract. Therefore, revisiting contractual obligations for both customers and vendors and determining cutover dates, incorporating tax clauses and revising prices and quotations will play a pivotal role to safeguard the business interests of all parties to a contract.

There will be transactions which are closed before the go-live date, and there will be instances where payment is received post the go-live date or where the supply is scheduled post the go-live date, but where the relevant invoices are paid prior to it. Failure to assess and communicate/agree on the VAT impact between all parties to the transaction on such spillover transactions might increase the cost of such transactions and either of the parties may be out of pocket in such scenarios, and there may be unwelcome friction with trading partners, if not managed.

IT infrastructure will be the ‘backbone’ of the VAT compliance function from issuing VAT compliant invoices to producing the VAT return.

Identify VAT resource requirements, particularly external consultants and auditors. Skilled VAT resources are drawn from a diminishing pool of individuals. Take advantage of the experience gained by service providers implementing in Dubai, KSA and Bahrain. There are many wrinkles, not immediately obvious.

Industry associations can raise common issues and concerns with the Ministry of Finance, particularly in advance of the formal publication of the VAT law.

While you can choose to defer VAT implementation be ready to demonstrate to your owners/investors/respective boards and shareholders, that you have done so only after undertaking an appropriate level of due diligence of the likely preparation of the VAT environment. Some key areas include:

Upgrades to ERP systems and user acceptance testing Reporting
Timely VAT registration, (company by company or at Group level?)
Timely Collection of Tax registration numbers for Trading partners
Timely returns, accrual and and payment of taxes
Scoping the need for professional service and selection/references, time for reaching agreement with partners.
Unforeseen penalties
Cash flow management – how will this change? the delayed inflow on account of receipts from customers; outflow after the discharge of tax liabilities on supplies without consideration/deemed supplies (if any); outflow on account of payment to vendors; and additional outflow due to the payment of taxes (net of input tax recoverable) to tax authorities.

Tracking changes in law/ public clarifications

Some businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia faced challenges when ERP systems were not implemented in time to capture VAT on transactions or to generate customised VAT payable or receivable reports. The first quarter of the respective VAT regimes required substantial manual effort to properly account for transactions.

Another hurdle was training staff on the upgraded ERP software as well as new reporting standards

In a test system for financial or erp system, for training and requirement scope you could get early familiarity with the Dubai or KSA framework – there are unlikely to be major changes in the Oman framework.

If you current system is largely manual, or has significant limitations then now be the time to plan for upgrade, or reimplementation or a new system. The UAE VAT law has a penalty provision whereby every incorrect invoice can trigger an AED 5,000 fine (approx. OMR 500), irrespective of the value of the invoice. Exposure to these fines can be significant in industries where high volumes of transactions are made per day, for example the retail, utilities and banking industries. Compliance depends on a robust system and operations preparedness. The audit trail of the process, and other documents, help to ensure correct and timely filing of the returns as well as avoiding any unwarranted penalties.

Businesses across the globe tend to see a fall in demand where the display prices on products do not include VAT, specifically in the case of products which are price sensitive. The implementation of a new indirect tax law will have an impact on turnover and consumer preferences. Some prices ma need to be rounded up or down. You may need to show VAT separately, item by item on a receipt or invoice – is your software able to do that?

Given that the potential VAT rate in Oman may vary between 5 per cent, exempted, non-taxable and zero-rated, businesses should ascertain the price impact of VAT on imports which are recoverable and non-recoverable, final product pricing and alternative sourcing if imports are expensive, and vice versa.

Calorie display on Dubai menus – are you ready? Ask Synergy Software Systems.

June 30th, 2019

It will soon be mandatory to display the caloric value of each and every item in the menu, in whichever form it is. The Food Safety Department announcement is that:
All food outlets in Dubai have to display calorie content of ready-to-eat foods by January 1, 2020.
An early deadline of November 1, 2019 is set for establishments with more than five branches to implement it.

The circular and guidebook is posted on municipality’s portal www.dm.gov.ae and has clear instructions for labelling nutritional value with examples for manual calculation in Excel-sheet templates.

The department will verify the accuracy of the calculations through auditing. It will also at a later stage, provide an electronic-platform for computing the calories

Eateries, including fast food chains, must display caloric value of food items either on the menu or at the point of sale. There are some establishments that already declare calorie content on packaging, flyers, tray mats, websites etc. However, the municipality wants everyone to display the caloric value, against each item in the menu from which diners choose items at the point of sale. When there is no menu, then it should be in the menu boards or the menu displayed on tablets — basically, whichever form of the menu which the consumer checks for choosing the food.

Dubai eateries will have options how to calculate calorie contents for display in the menus to comply with a new regulation that aims to help diners make informed choices. For most a software package will be administratively simplest to ensure compliance.

For online menus displayed for food ordering services, the rule will not be mandatory, for the time being, since the department is not regulating electronic platforms for food delivery.

Dubai Municipality says that Food establishments in Dubai should declare in their menus the calorie content of all ready-to-eat food items.

The primary objective of the rule is to help diners make healthy food choices for reducing obesity and related diseases. The Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality hopes to make a big difference in food decisions taken by diners just with the knowledge of how much of calories they consume.
The population of Dubai is three million. As per our calculations, we expect more than one billion food decisions to be based on the calorie count displayed in menus in a year,” Iman Ali Al Bastaki, Director of the Department
.
During the six months of the World Expo 2020 starting on October 20, 2020, Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors. Hence, the number of food decisions taken based on displayed calories is expected to be multi-billion during the Expo.

For example, a food outlet making a traditional meal with a lot of oil will have to display a high caloric value for the meal. When consumers prefer to go for another meal with less calories or a smaller portion of the same meal, the establishment will encourage its chefs to reduce the use of oil, thereby reducing the calories and providing a healthier meal.

Dubai, is the first emirate in the UAE to implement such a rule. It referred to similar practices in countries like the US and Canada. Dubai already has a system of nutrition labelling that displays all nutritional values in packaged food items e.g.: sugar, sodium, fat.

For cooked or prepared food that is ready-to-eat, the first step in declaration is the basic declaration of calories. The municipality wants to ensure the readiness of the market before moving to the next level of detailed nutrition labelling in cooked foods.

This is part of a holistic approach that Dubai Municipality has been working on to improve health and to reduce obesity and diabetes in Dubai that include healthy meal project in school canteens, an initiative to reduce salt and sugar content in bakery items and verification of claims about healthy food items.

With over 100 branded hotels and industrial caterers, and other food producers as our customers we have more than 20 years extensive experience in the F@B area, and our solution for nutrition data is widely adopted.

If you need, a software solution or to integrate our nutrition data to your erp system or F@B software, then contact us to learn more about our solutions.

Synergy Software Systems: 00917 43365589
Deyafa Systems: 00971 4 3240066

Electronic health data originating in the UAE – Federal Law No. 2 of 2019 (the Law)

June 26th, 2019

Important changes for anyone who collects, processes or transfers electronic health data originating in the UAE.

Besides a host of new data protection measures and new rules around use of a centralized database managed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Health, a general prohibition on transferring health data outside the UAE has a significant impact on healthcare service providers and life sciences companies operating locally.

Cloud based health solutions which involve collection, storage and processing of health data, such as wearables and health monitoring apps, may be particularly affected. It is imperative for companies operating in the sector to carefully monitor developments.

On 6 February 2019, the President of the UAE issued Federal Law No. 2 of 2019 (the Law) which regulates the use of information technology and communications (ITC) in the healthcare sector. This Law:
• aims to raise the minimum bar for protection of health data and to introduce certain concepts which are on a par with best international practice in information law;
• supports the legislative trend towards localization of sensitive categories of data;
• paves the way for centralized health data capture and analysis to support public health initiatives conducted by the UAE Ministry of Health.

The Law was published in the Federal Gazette on 14 February 2019 and will come into force three months from publication. (May2019). The implementing regulations which will provide further details on its application are to be issued within six months from the date of publication.

The law is the first Federal data/privacy law of its kind in the United Arab Emirates albeit limited to healthcare data.

The law prescribes 31 articles and its application is wide both in terms of geographical spread and industry sectors. The law covers the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE) including its Free Zones and will impact on many sectors including local healthcare regulators in the different Emirates as well as all sectors dealing with healthcare data/information.

The health authorities in each local emirate are empowered to establish the rules, standards and controls for their own electronic data and health information systems, such as the methods of operation, exchange of data and information and their protection, as well as access to and copying of data and information

The Law applies to all entities operating in the UAE, whether onshore or from one of its free zones (including Dubai Healthcare City), which provide:
• healthcare services;
• health insurance services (including insurance brokers or providers of related administrative services);
• healthcare IT services; or
• any other services, directly or indirectly, related to the healthcare sector, or engaged in activities that involve handling of electronic health data.

1. Regulation of health data

The scope of the Law is broad – it regulates the processing of all electronic health data regardless of its form, including names of patients, information collected during consultation, diagnosis and treatment, alpha-numerical patient identifiers, common procedural technology (CPT) codes, images produced by medical imaging technology, and lab results among other types of data.

2. Prohibition on storage of health data outside of the UAE

The Law formalizes the longtime informal regulatory policy that health data must be processed and stored inside the UAE. Critically it provides that such data may not be transferred outside of the UAE, except where an exception is issued by the relevant heath authority. The Law also prohibits the creation of health data outside of the UAE which relates to health services provided inside the UAE. Accordingly, cloud solutions hosted out of country, outsourcing of IT services to overseas locations, remote IT support from other departments within multi-national Healthcare Service Providers and remote collection and monitoring of patient information within the UAE, such as heart rate, sleep patterns, or steps walked, from outside the UAE through apps and wearables may be significantly impacted.

The Law envisages certain exceptions to the default data localization requirements. These will be set out in subsequent ministerial resolutions or the implementing regulations.

3. Minimum standards for processing of health data

In addition to reinforcing the duty of Healthcare Service Providers to maintain the confidentiality of health data, the Law introduces a number of concepts similar to overseas data protection frameworks. For example:
• Purpose limitation: Patient information must not be used other than for the purpose of the provision of health services, except with the prior consent of the patient;
• Accuracy: Healthcare Service Providers must ensure that the health data processed is accurate and reliable;
• Security measures: Healthcare Service Providers must put in place measures to protect health data and to prevent its unauthorized processing, damage, alteration, deletion or amendment; and
• Non-disclosure/patient consent: The Law reiterates existing obligations not to disclose patient data to any third party without the prior consent of the patient.

4. Retention period

Health data must be retained for a minimum period of 25 years from the date on which the last procedure on the patient was conducted, or as long as is necessary if longer.

5. Centralized data management system

A new centralized data management system (DMS) will be established and operated by the UAE Ministry of Health to facilitate access to, storage and exchange of health data. Healthcare Service Providers are required to register to access the DMS and identify all members of personnel who are authorized to access it.

6. Website blocking for advertisement or licensing violations

The UAE Ministry of Health is entitled to instruct the relevant local or federal health authorities to block any website, whether inside or outside of the UAE that does not comply with the regulations applicable to healthcare advertising or which provides healthcare information without a license or permission from the UAE Ministry of Health.

The only circumstances in which a patient’s information may be used or disclosed without the patient’s consent are:
• to allow insurance companies and other entities funding the medical services to verify financial entitlement;
• for scientific research (provided that the identity of the patient is not disclosed and applicable scientific research standards and guidelines are complied with);
• for public health preventive and treatment measures, for example. in the case of a public health crisis;
• at the request of a competent judicial authority; or
• at the request of the relevant health authority for public health purposes including inspections.

There is a delicate balance to be struck between the potential benefits of this practice and the protection of each individual’s right of privacy. Where to draw the line in this assessment remains a topic of discussion between industry stakeholders and regulators, particularly in light of high profile breaches in recent years such as the collaboration between the Royal Free London NHS Trust and Google Deep Mind to identify patients at risk of kidney disease, or in the context of using health data for secondary research purposes. In January 2019 the European Data Protection Board issued its opinion on the European Commission’s draft Q&A on the interplay between data protection under the EU General Data Protection Regulation and clinical trials regulation. Wewait for the Law’s implementing regulations to see what position the UAE authorities will take on this sensitive issue.

As well as certain penal sanctions for breach of key requirements, such as the data localization obligations, the Law sets out a number of overarching disciplinary sanctions for breach of its provisions. These sanctions range from warnings to fines of AED 1 million and/or cancelling the breaching company’s permit to use the DMS.

Typically, access to centralised systems – such as the planned healthcare system – is facilitated by open APIs (application programme interfaces) made available to third party suppliers of IT systems which access the system. Where those IT systems already exist and are in use (under contracts between healthcare providers and the suppliers), technical changes to the systems will be required.

Some businesses will need to revisit their business procedures to comply with the Law. We recommend that companies affected by the Law:
• Keep up to date with the executive regulations setting out further details
• Ensure IT systems are capable of interacting with the central IT system
• Complete necessary administrative steps to obtain access to the central IT system, such as registration / licensing requirements
• Have technical and organisational processes in place to ensure that all patient data is treated confidentiality, kept secure, kept accurate and uncorrupted, not used for other purposes and retained as required
• Not transfer or store any patient data outside the UAE unless authorised to do so by a resolution issued by the local health authority
• Conduct a data mapping exercise to identify what type of health data is held, where it is processed and with which third parties it is shared.
• Where such third parties are based overseas, take steps to cease the transfer of health data to them, or to anonymize / denonymize the health data transferred;
• for any health data which cannot be anonymized / denonymized due to the nature of the processing activities, source alternative third party service providers to conduct the processing of that data within the borders of the UAE
• review contracts with third party service providers which process personal data and ensure that the contractual obligations for data processing and information security are sufficient to meet the new requirements of the law
• consider contracting obligations on service providers to support compliance with the law, such as annual rights of audit;
• add a step to the existing compliance sign-off process prior to adoption of new operational processes and business lines to ensure that no health data leaves the UAE and that the minimum statutory compliance standards are met.

Synergy certifications

June 22nd, 2019

Happy to announce that our Gold partnership with Microsoft has been confirmed again for the next 12 months.

Recently we have also certified consultants in ABBY the industry leading OCR software.

Earlier in the year we became a gold partner with UIPath the market leading Robotic Process Automation solution, for which Synergy has more than 50% of the certified consultants in the region.

This is part of our commitment to deliver professional service for digital transformation to our clients.

UAE and AI

June 20th, 2019

A report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY says the UAE has seen the second highest AI investment over the past decade, more than USD $2.15 billion
• One in five companies in the country consider AI as their top digital priority
• 94% of C-suite leadership consider ‘AI strategy’ as an important topic and 35% of non-managerial staff are actively having AI discussions

New research shows the state of AI within businesses across the UAE is expected to improve dramatically over the next three years,as a growing number of executives look to AI to drive their digital agendas. Already, 18% of businesses in the country consider AI their most important digital priority. (AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Click here – a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY.)

The UAE’s progress in elevating the AI agenda is a direct result of leaders across the country recognising that the technology is a key differentiator across all sectors. 94% of companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level – the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA.

“When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adopti on and a greater number of successful implementations,” says Sayed Hashish, regional general manager at Microsoft Gulf.

Leadership capability in the UAE is also rated high when compared with other countries in MEA. While 64% of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, 24% of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent. Most companies still consider themselves to be in the planned phase of AI maturity, meaning AI has not yet been put to active use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% of businesses perceive themselves as advanced in their application of AI.

It’s not surprising that the UAE is the second highest regional investor in AI over the past ten years, investing $2.15 billion in total. The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.

Machine learning is ranked as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions, then smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions are the key focus.

The UAE’s open culture around AI is a highly positive indicator of the health of the technology within the country. 94% of UAE companies have ‘AI Strategy’ as an important topic at C-suite level and a significant 35% of companies say AI discussions are filtering down from top management right the way through to non-managerial levels. As a result, employees in the UAE embrace opportunities to participate in skills training and pilot programmes.

UAE companies are, in general, heavily focused on customer engagement when it comes to AI. The use of chatbots in the marketing space has become common, largely because they enhance the customer experience, ultimately demonstrating obvious value to management. UAE respondents expect AI to deliver greater operational efficiencies, drive down costs and, most importantly, enable them to be more competitive. Companies within the Emirates view prediction (76%) and automation (76%) as the most relevant applications of AI for their businesses.

65% of UAE companies rate themselves as highly to very competent when it comes to drawing on external alliances to strengthen their AI capabilities.

Synergy Software Systems offers Integration as a service, Robotic Process Automation, Machine learning, and Advanced analytics solutions

The first Microsoft cloud datacenter regions in the Middle East are now available!

June 20th, 2019

On the 19th June 2019, Microsoft launched two new cloud data centres in the United Arab Emirates – in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
These new cloud regions join Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure – one of the largest and most innovative in the world.

Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 are now available from the new cloud regions in the UAE and give local access for Middle East organizations, enterprises and developers to scalable, available and resilient cloud services to bring applications closer to users, while maintaining data residency, security and compliance needs.

These new cloud regions in the UAE are the dawn of a new era, driving digital transformation, economic growth and job creation,” said Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf. “We are committed to empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Now, more customers in the Middle East can move with confidence to the trusted and intelligent Microsoft Cloud. They will be more competitive as they start their digital transformation journeys – engaging customers, empowering employees, optimising operations, and reinventing products and services.”

Azure, is an ever-expanding set of cloud services, that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT). Office 365 provides email, collaboration, conferencing, enterprise social networking and business intelligence.

Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, offer the next generation of intelligent business applications and tools, and are anticipated to be available from the cloud regions in the UAE by the end of 2019.

Microsoft provides expertise in data protection, security and privacy as well as the industry’s broadest set of compliance certifications to helpmanage compliance with supported industry standards and regulations such as ISO 27001/27018, SSAE 18 SOC, and GDPR.

Data residency in the UAE will help enable government organizations and enterprises to comply with in-country regulatory frameworks and decrease the obstacles for cloud adoption. This allows, for example, public sector departments to revitalize their service delivery with the ability to improve data gathering, promote teamwork, portal development and analytics.

Regional organizations of all sizes from across all industries have placed their trust in the Microsoft Cloud. These include the Emirates Group, Emaar Properties, Majid Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Landmark Group, Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM), Miral, Daman Insurance, RAK Ceramics, Imdaad, Gulf Air, Viva, Kuwait Finance House, and Dubai World Trade Center.

Entities from sectors such as government, aviation, financial services, manufacturing and healthcare are among those that are already benefiting from the new cloud regions. These include Dubai Airports, Etihad Airways, Mubadala Development Company, Mashreq Bank, The First Group, Network International, and Shelf Drilling.

Microsoft has been working closely with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and Dubai Electronic Security Center (DESC) to enable compliant adoption of Cloud Services by the UAE government and semi-government entities. Microsoft is the first cloud service provider in the UAE to achieve DESC’s Cloud Service Provider certification.

Dubai F@B – calorie content menus, and QR codes to choose safe hygenic food,

May 24th, 2019

Dubai: Food establishments in Dubai should declare in their menus the calorie content of all ready-to-eat food items, Dubai Municipality has said in a circular last Saturday.

The new rule is applicable to restaurants, cafeterias and cafes with more than 5 branches from November.

All other restaurants, catering establishments and hotels should implement it in the second phase in January 2020, the civic body said in a press release on Saturday.

There are more than 18,000 food businesses in various categories according to Dubai Municipality.

.On Sunday a new QR Code system was also launched by the Dubai Municipality which will allow you to choose food based on hygiene and safety in Dubai-based food outlets. Under this system, Dubai’s Food Safety Department will issue smartphone-readable codes to food outlets through its “Food Watch” digital platform. It will be mandatory for food outlets to display the QR codes in their premises as and when they are issued one.

In the next phase, people will be able to see what kind of a license is issued to an outlet. So, if somebody is making cakes or taking up catering services, you can ask for the code and find out if they are licensed to do it. Accessibility, location, web address, contact details etc. are the other details of food outlets available through QR code scanning. Dubai Municipality’s hotline number to register complaints 800900 is also shown.

If you need a proven software solutions for your F@B operations, then contact us.

Synergy Software Systems, Iftar 2019

May 13th, 2019

About 120 staff and families joined together for an Iftar celebration over the weekend.