ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates’s improved rating in a global risk index have given the financial services sector a boost, reflecting the country's advancements in combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Led by the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Terrorism Financing and the Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF), the UAE has achieved notable progress in a leading international index for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The UAE's ranking in the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Risk Index has improved by 16 places from 2021 to 2023.

Responding to these results, Hamid AlZaabi, Director General of the EO AML/CTF, stated: “These results are a global recognition of the UAE’s record efforts combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Our national strategy and approach is robust and comprehensive, reaching all corners of our AML/CFT system and every level from law enforcement agencies, supervisory authorities and company registries, and the private sector, in order to optimize achieving our goals effectively.

"The effectiveness, permanence, and sustainability of our efforts have been on full display for all our partners, both domestic and international, and we look forward to the launch of more key initiatives over the coming months. This achievement also underscores a significant milestone in the UAE's commitment to strengthening its anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing framework, bolstering investor confidence, and fostering a more favorable business environment. With improved risk ratings, the UAE is poised to attract increased investment, facilitate smoother international transactions, and further solidify its position as a leading member of the global financial community and a trusted partner”.

The UAE’s improved risk ratings has had a positive impact on business at the country’s largest Financial Free Zones (FFZ).

Emmanuel Givanakis, CEO - Financial Services Regulatory Authority, of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) said: "FATF’s decision demonstrates the remarkable progress the country has made in improving its anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) measures. Mitigating the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing have always been a strategic focus of ADGM’s regulations and our regulatory approach. We continue to take all necessary measures to ensure that all entities operating in ADGM remain vigilant in fulfilling their statutory obligations, which are aligned with compliance to international standards. ADGM and its regulatory agencies, is committed to continuing its collaboration with key stakeholders to make sure its AML/CTF framework is at all times aligned with the UAE's national risk assessment initiatives, safeguarding the integrity of the UAE’s financial ecosystem, and positioning the UAE as a premier destination for international businesses and global financial institutions.”

In the Emirate of Dubai, Waleed Saeed Al Awadhi, Chief Operating Officer at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) commented on the impact and said, “The UAE's removal from the FATF Grey List marks a significant milestone, reflecting robust enhancements in the nation’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing frameworks. Due to the de-listing, we anticipate to see less processing costs and time for international transactions, lower bank charges, increased compliance among financial institutions and a boost in investor confidence. This enhancement of the UAE’s international financial credibility will foster a more secure investment environment, boosting economic growth. The move reassures global financial institutions and investors of the UAE’s commitment to regulatory compliance and financial transparency - strengthening the country’s position as a leading global financial hub.”

Hana Al Rostamani, Group Chief Executive Officer of First Abu Dhabi Bank, said: “We commend the collaborative efforts spearheaded by the Higher Committee Overseeing the National Strategy for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Terrorism Financing and the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing resulting in the UAE’s removal from the FATF list. We are confident this will add to the UAE’s global competitiveness and foster increased trust among international investors, thereby boosting confidence in the country and attracting greater foreign investment.”