Business opportunities in UAE after new visa schemes
Long-term residency will attract top expat talents and spur innovation
The UAE’s decision to offer long-term visas to property investors, scientists and entrepreneurs is part of its ongoing efforts to support the country’s move towards a globally competitive knowledge economy and diversify its businesses away from the traditional reliance on oil, according to analysts.
On Saturday, the UAE Cabinet announced long-term visas of up to 10 years. Until now, visas for expats have been valid for two or three years.
Validity of the new long-term visas
Under the new rules, five-year residency visa will be granted to owners of UAE real estate worth at least Dh5 million, while renewable 10-year visas will be provided to expats with investments of at least Dh10 million if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 per cent of the total.
Investors will be allowed to bring spouses and children into the country.
residency visas to owners of UAE real estate worth Dh5m
Other rules offer five-year visas to entrepreneurs and 10-year visas for scientists and researchers with top qualifications. Outstanding students can stay for five years.
Analysts welcomed the government’s long-term strategic direction, and said the decision would positively impact investment and employment trends.
Jean-Paul Pigat, head of research at Lighthouse Research in Dubai, said the new visas were a step in the right direction and hoped that the policies would be further broadened so that even larger numbers of residents could qualify.
Investors/Real Estate Entrepreneurs
- The amount invested in real estate must be paid and not loaned
- The property must be retained for at least 3 years
- The visa could be extended to include business partners, provided that each partner contributes Dh10 million
- Will the property valuation of Dh5 million (5-year visa) and Dh10 million (10-year visa) extend to all types of commercial real estate?
- Does the visa eligibility apply to existing property that had been acquired for Dh5 million or more?
- Five-year visa for students with a grade of at least 95% in secondary schools, with a distinction of 3.75 GPA upon graduation from any university
- The long-term visa benefit will be extended to include families of the outstanding students
Special Talents: Innovators and Executives
- Creative individuals must be accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development
- Inventors must obtain a patent of value added to UAE’s economy with the approval of the Ministry of Economy
- Exceptional talents must be documented by patents or scientific research published in world-class journals
- Executives must be owners of well-known and globally-recognised companies
- They must also be holders of high academic achievement, professional experience and position
Doctors and Scientists
- Holder of a PhD degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world
- Holder of an award for the work in the applicant’s jurisdiction
- Contribution to a major scientific research related to the work of the applicant
- Published articles or books in distinguished publications in the field of work of the applicant
- Membership in a selective entry organisation related to the work of the applicant
- PhD in addition to 10-year professional experience
- Specialisation in priority areas to the UAE for doctors
- Scientists accredited by Emirates Scientists Council
- Holders of Mohammad Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence
Dubai: Developers here have a new benchmark to aim for — a Dh5 million property — when it comes to targeting buyer prospects.
Because that’s the price that will fetch the buyer a 5-year residency visa and potentially opening up a new growth opportunity within the property market.
And longer residency visas are exactly what is required to open up new investor markets, sources say. “Every market wants a piece of China’s investment power and Dubai is putting itself in a prime position to capitalise,” said Firas Al Msaddi, CEO of fäm Properties.
“The announcement underlines the fact the government will not stop until the market is back where it wants it to be. This initiative will be complemented by many others.”
“This is the time to acquire prime assets that aren’t available during boom times,” Msaddi added.
In the first rush of the new law coming into effect, Dubai’s government-owned developers would be best placed. Locations such as Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, Creek Harbour and all the “island” locations off the Dubai coast could be beneficiaries.
Starting next year, all Dubai-focused property shows — both held here and at roadshows in key overseas destinations — will see the Dh5 million and 5-year residency connection getting highlighted.
Market sources say that at this moment in time, the higher end of the property market is what requires sustained momentum and this could well provide that.
In a statement, the Dubai Land Department Director-General, Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, said the move will help Dubai “remain on the list of destinations most attractive to investors as well as those seeking high-quality accommodation and educational opportunities.”
Dubai will remain on the list of destinations most attractive to investors as well as those seeking highquality accommodation...
Targeting the higher end of the property spectrum has worked well for Dubai and its property market in the past.
In 2011, the upturn brought on by the Arab Spring and the inflow of capital from the rest of the region was initially felt in Dubai’s upscale freehold destinations — the Palm, Dubai Marina, etc.
With a new set of locations being readied, the longer residency options could well propel these on the investor radar. The thinking is that as in any market, end-users will be active enough to take care of mid to lower end of the property market.
“Some investors will recognise the opportunity immediately and those who decide to wait and see what happens will be missing out,” said Msaddi. “Once these equations have made their impact, the market will have already bounced back and they will have missed their opportunity.”
What the market will watch out for
- The new regulation says that “all” property valued at Dh5 million will ensure the owner has access to longer term visa. Will that extend to all types of commercial real estate?
- Whether this applies to existing property that had been acquired for Dh5 million or more. Will this have retrospective effect?
- Those who own a stake in an existing company or partnership valued at Dh10 million and higher will have access to a renewable residency up to 10 years. In this case, the value of the property within that Dh10 million of up to 40 per cent will qualify for visa renewal every 10 years.
Dubai: Businessmen in the UAE are expected to be more confident in investing more as a long-term stay brings more certainty, according to experts.
On Sunday, the UAE relaxed norms for investors and entrepreneurs to get a higher duration visa upon investment of a fixed sum, a few weeks after the UAE upgraded its place in terms of ease of doing business.
“Investors and entrepreneurs will certainly welcome the greater certainty which will facilitate long term investment, R&D and development of new and potentially disruptive technologies,” Chirag Shah, CEO, 1 International FinCentre Associates, an advisory firm, told Gulf News.
In the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report, the UAE jumped 10 places in the Ease of Doing Business ranking to 11th position globally in 2019 — up from 21st position last year — to lead the Arab world for the sixth consecutive year. The country had a special mention on progress in introducing new reforms and also entered the top 20 in the global ranking.
The decision will further consolidate UAE’s position as one of the most competitive economies in the world with high ease of doing business.
Among the 10 topics, the UAE scored very high on factors such as getting electricity connection (with top score of 1), paying taxes (2), dealing with construction permits (5) registering property (7), enforcing of contracts (9) and protection of minority investors (15).
“The decision by the government will promote economic growth and further consolidate the UAE’s position as one of the most competitive economies in the world with high ease of doing business,” Adeeb Ahamed, chief executive officer of LuLu International Exchange said.
The implementation leaves room for further improvements, Shah said.
“The per capita GDP impact of talent and capital will be significantly high and will support accelerating UAE’s continued growth — both in terms of ‘quality’ and ‘value’. Several developed economies have successfully adopted and benefited from highly skilled migrants and job creating investor programmes. This well thought-out programme rolled out by UAE can be further developed and fine tuned based on the impact it makes over the next 1-2 years,” Shah added.
The UAE has also announced its decision to give long-term visas to highly skilled professionals, giving an impetus for talented professionals to stay longer.
The UAE Cabinet decision also includes provisions for granting a five-year visa to outstanding students with a passing grade of at least 95 per cent in school, and a distinction of at least 3.75 GPA [Grade Point Average] upon graduation from universities within and outside the UAE. The visa beneficiaries include family members of the outstanding students.
‘Full of win’
The visa rule will not only benefit students, but lead to dividends for universities and the workforce in the UAE, explained Daniel Adkins CEO, Curtin University Dubai’s Academic Infrastructure Provider, Transnational Academic Group.
“I think the new UAE visa regulation is an excellent decision. At the individual level, it rewards outstanding students by allowing them to stay in the UAE and seek employment, thereby providing an added incentive to study in the UAE,” he said.
The new decision on long-term visas means the best and brightest graduates will join the workforce, which benefits all of society.
“For the UAE as a nation, the new decision on long-term visas means the best and brightest graduates will join the workforce, which ultimately benefits all of society.
“Also, it benefits universities in the UAE by providing students more motivation to study harder and give their best to retain the long-term visa. It raises the overall level of all students in the class by motivating them to perform better.
“This is a ‘full of win’ situation for everybody.
“And I don’t think the requirements for the long-term student visa are impossible to attain. Because of our ranking, Curtin University tends to attract top students, a large percentage of whom have achieved 95 per cent or better in their high school exams. At the university level, around 10 to 12 per cent of our students in various programmes are attaining a 3.75GPA.”