Eurogroup finance ministers sign an EU flag during a round table meeting of eurogroup finance ministers in Luxembourg, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. File picture: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Dubai — The United Arab Emirates says it is "surprised and disappointed" about being blacklisted by the European Union along with 16 other countries the EU deems guilty of unfairly offering tax avoidance schemes.

The UAE said in a statement on Thursday that it's "committed to a reform process which will be finalized by October 2018" and that it's "absolutely confident this will ensure the UAE is swiftly removed from the list."

The EU announced the list on Wednesday, though penalties still need to be confirmed.

The UAE is a federation of seven sheikhdoms that includes Dubai and the oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi. Dubai's massive real estate market has attracted both scrupulous and unscrupulous investors.

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The UAE is largely tax-free, though value-added taxes will begin in the country on Jan. 1.

Associated Press