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Past event summary

Understanding the UAE Trade Landscape: Customs and Trade Compliance

About the event

Our informative webinar in partnership with experts from Deloitte discussed how to navigate UAE’s trade landscape and understand regulations around operating in a free zone.

Speakers gave their insights about customs risks and opportunities of operating in a free zone, the latest trends and shared the compliance obligations businesses need to fulfil.


Key topics included:

  • Customs awareness in free zones – understanding customs risks and opportunities of operating in free zones. This will cover differences in operating in fenced v.s non-fenced free zones
  • Free zones and customs regulations – overview of compliance obligations when operating in free zones. This will include free zone operations and cover key pointers on the movement of goods from a free zone to mainland or other countries
  • Customs and global trade focus points – analysis of latest customs trends using practical examples and case studies

Event details


Online. Upon registration, you will receive details on how to join the webinar.


11:00am - 12:00pm, 31 Mar 2021





Fernand is Customs and Global Trade Advisory Leader within Deloitte Middle East. Fernand has over 20 years experience in indirect taxes with a strong focus on customs, excises and global trade matters. Before becoming a consultant, he worked as a customs official with the Dutch customs authorities dealing with several customs & global trade matters, issuing rulings on customs valuation and customs economic procedures.

Some 20 years ago Fernand became customs & global trade consultant, further specialized in a variety of customs, excises & global trade matters and built out a specialized group of experts serving clients in both the public and private sector on business model optimization, automation (customs & excises solutions such as SAP).

Before joining Deloitte Middle East, Fernand was Deloitte’s Global Leader for Customs and global trade practice for over 10 years.


Relevant experience:

  • Leader PAN-European project on e-Customs and Authorized Economic Operator
  • Responsible partner on e-Customs and trade/tax technologies
  • AEO project for international clients in the automotive and chemical industry
  • All Customs, excises and international trade matters and Indirect Tax IT Solutions (e.g. export control)
  • Experienced in Tax Effective Supply Chain Management  
  • Preparing technical reports related to smuggling cases covering Post Clearance Audit, valuation, classification and other related dispute and litigations matters, (i.e. customs grievance cases)




Shaimaa is Customs and Global Trade Advisory Senior Manager within Deloitte Middle East. With over 12 years of experience in the UAE, Shaimaa started her career in a law firm in the UAE, prior to moving to PwC in 2018 where she served a wide range of public and private sector clients as a Customs and International Trade Manager for three years. Her areas of specialism include audit support, as well as litigation, due diligence, health check review and advisory expertise, particularly with Free Zone companies. Shaimaa has very strong relationships with the Customs Authorities in the UAE and the JAFZA, DMCC, DAFZ Authorities.

Relevant experience:

  • Shaimaa has extensive experience in Post Clearance Audits (“PCA”) both in the public and private sectors in the GCC.
  • Tariff classification analysis and Binding Tariff Information (BTIs) - GCC: Assisting clients with technical opinion on determining the tariff classification of various products based on GCC and international Harmonized System (HS), as well as requiring binding confirmations.
  • Providing advisory services in respect of current customs practice - GCC: Regulatory requirements and formalities for air, sea and land clearance processes and customs duty reliefs (i.e. free trade agreements, customs duty exemptions, customs duty suspensions) and other GCC specific customs considerations and Advice on the customs and international trade implications, formalities and procedures.
  • Customs advice on challenging issues with Customs authority on Customs Classification Cases for the private sector - GCC: Advice on personal and company imports regulations in the Middle East for a global e-commerce company.
  • Customs and Tax advice to Governments in the GCC providing advisory services to the Customs Audit Department with one of the GCC countries




Reshma is a Senior Manager with over 13 years of tax advisory experience. Her clients include large multi-national organisations in the oil and gas, commodity trading sector and also major banking and financial services institutions. Reshma is part of Deloitte’s UAE Tax team and specialises in indirect taxes including VAT, Customs and Global Trade advisory and other indirect taxes.

Reshma started her career in Indirect tax advisory with EY in London. Before joining Deloitte, Reshma has also had a couple of in house roles, when she worked with bulge bracket investment banks (both US and UK headquartered), as the lead indirect tax adviser for their energy and commodities business based out of London. In that capacity, she has advised on complex trading supply chains and managed the processes and controls in relation to customs and excise risks. Her roles focussed on managing indirect tax risks in relation to new business initiatives, tax process risks and M&A, requiring a close working relationship with the traders and business decision-makers.

She has advised a broad range of clients on managing indirect tax risks. She has significant experience in advising on regulatory changes and has liaised with tax authorities to support policy development initiatives. Reshma has advised on complex customs and movement of goods queries including managing classification projects. She has also led international projects covering customs and global trade issues in various jurisdictions and has advised on complex global indirect tax and customs and excise tax risk reviews and also AEO readiness reviews.

Reshma is a Chartered Tax Advisor with the Chartered Institute of Tax in the UK. She also has a Masters degree in International economics, specializing in development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, UK.

Webinar Facilitator




Samer Merhi is the Senior Marketing Manager of Events at DMCC, the world’s leading Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise.

Joining DMCC in 2012, Samer is responsible for delivering the organisation’s event programme in line with corporate marketing strategy and business objectives.

Technically knowledgeable and professionally qualified, Samer forges strategic relationships with partners around the world to deliver an ever-growing DMCC calendar of events both physical and virtual.

In a career spanning 15 years, Samer has managed some of the region’s largest and high-profile live events and conferences, as well as diplomatic meetings and industry gatherings.

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