TBY talks to Mahmud P.K. Merali, Group Managing Partner at Merali's Chartered Accountants & Registered Auditors, on recent developments in the Emirate's economy, and the UAE Chartered Accountant Certification.

Mahmud P.K. Merali
Mahmud P.K. Merali is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, a Certified Public Accountant in Kenya and Zambia, as well as an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation in the UK. Currently an Executive Partner of the Baker Tilly Meralis Group, he is the Regional Head for Middle East and South East Asia, and takes the lead as the group’s International and Financial Consultant. Mahmud serves as a consultant to multi-national companies in the UK, UAE and East Africa. A board member of a listed Turkish retail chain since 2005, he was appointed Vice Chairman in 2012.

How would you describe Dubai's economic performance in 2014?

Dubai has changed dramatically over the last three decades. I was here in the 1980s and it was totally different. Since then, it's become a major business center with a more diversified economy. It obviously has a strategic location. Its growing trade and tourism have helped Dubai become one of the top-five fastest growing cities in the world. In about 300 world cities in the recently released 2014 annual report, Dubai posted a 4.5% GDP growth and a 4.7% employment growth. Its high-quality infrastructure is well maintained, and the Emirate survives any challenges presented by the global economy. It had its downturn a few years ago, but the growth is expected to continue rising above the current level in the coming years and will be driven by both the government and the private sectors.

How would you describe the national launch of the UAE chartered accountant certification?

That launch was on the March 19, 2014 where the heads of major audit associations and accounting professionals launched this new joint task force to help forge better relationships. It's the first of its kind here in the UAE. The heads of seven major auditing associations and accounting professional bodies resolved unanimously to create a joint action task force to set up this chartered accounting certification. We hope it will create more credibility and awareness of financials. It will be sharing knowledge of key issues of accounting and financials both in the UAE and globally. It will also implement a national qualification called “UAE Chartered Accounting." It will collaborate on research and policy creating for local and global financial issues, and will be a great stepping stone for knowledge-sharing by accounts.

What about the application of the IFRS? In what ways will this create an environment that will prevent the risks that happened in the 2008 crisis?

When the country announced plans to adopt IFRS, it knew what the locals would say. They referred to a number of benefits, mostly to do with equity markets. It is not surprising that academics have looked to equity markets to assess the extent to which the values have materialized from this IFRS. The evidence can be fairly characterized as mixed, partly because of the difference in samples. They have a wide use of proxies for the same underlying, but unobservable, idea. IFRS can be a little bit complex, but they are trying to make it as simple as possible. IFRS had many consequences, both for the valuation of equities and for the equity market more generally. Although there will always be winners and losers because of the change in accounting standards, because of the distributing effects, some consequences are regarded by some companies and investors as unbalanced.

How would you describe Merali's role in the development of sustainable business practices throughout the UAE?

Our motto is “plan with us." Our mission is to help our clients to excel with a professional, yet individualistic approach. The work ethic of the firm is about hard work, honesty, and trust. The firm has grown to its current position through organic growth. The success of the firm's growth has always been its commitment to treating clients as individuals. We may grow in size and statue, but the personal relationship between our clients remains paramount. We aim to add value to our clients by providing them solutions that suit their requirements. Our goal is to serve the needs of today's clients, whether private or public or listed with overseas operations, and help them achieve their vision.