By Moustafa Daly
To attract and keep talented workers, UAE is increasing the length of its golden visa.
In 2019, following decades of strict visa and residency policies, the UAE launched its golden visa scheme, aiming at attracting and retaining foreign investors, entrepreneurs, and professional talents.
Researchers, scientists, medical professionals, and artists, as well as investors with property worth at least 2 million Emirati dirhams ($544,000), are eligible to apply for different categories of the golden visa. It was previously valid for five years for most categories, including investors – but that has now been extended to 10 years.
Capitalizing on the program’s success, Abu Dhabi, the capital emirate of the UAE, has announced raising the validity of its golden visa to 10 years within the emirate (65 miles south of Dubai), and it is automatically renewable given that all conditions remain unchanged, and that visa holders take up residence in the country for at least 6 months a year.
The program has been quite successful, with 79,000 golden visas issued in 2022 across all categories, according to the Dubai Immigration authorities. In November 2022, it was announced that 150,000 golden visas had been issued since the 2019 launch of the program, far outpacing similar programs across Asia and Europe.
“The Golden Visa program represents an essential component to the UAE economy, the new expanded visa options fuel surge in UAE job creation,” explains Catalin Trifan, MENA director at Discus Holdings. “Notable reductions are also real estate investment; the threshold is now $ 550,000 instead of the previous $1,370,000. Altogether the changes have been made in order to have a competitive residency program worldwide.”
The UAE aims to retain capital and talent
With many neighboring countries launching and expanding their RCBI programs, as well as long-standing successful golden visa schemes in Europe, the news is seen as a move by the UAE to maintain investors and professionals’ interest in the country long-term, offering a low-tax environment and a booming real estate market.
“I truly believe that UAE Golden Visa had raised the bar of the global residency by investment industry by offering its unique set of benefits and reduced review and process timelines for applications,” says Trifan.
Also, with Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s biggest economy, quickly liberalizing both socially and economically, the UAE’s visa policy shifts can be seen as attempts to remain a viable regional hub for foreign talent and capital, offering a liberal lifestyle and a vibrant and business environment – attractive enough to keep foreigners in the country for the long haul.
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