Abu Dhabi: The UAE Cabinet’s decision to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies in the UAE with a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators will be a major incentive to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as top talent into the UAE, senior government officials and experts said on Monday.
Saif Mohammad Al Hajiri, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi said the new decision reflects the wise approach of the UAE leadership and government in moving towards building a strong and integrated national economy — based on competitiveness at a regional and international level.
$11 billion was the foreign direct investment into UAE in 2017
3% is the projected growth of the UAE economy in 2019, according to IMF
2.8% is the projected growth rate of the UAE’s non-oil GDP for 2018
A view of Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The UAE is investing billions of dirhams in infrastructure, renewable energy, free zones as well as tourism and leisure sectors as part of the country's push to diversify its economy. Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News
“The decision reveals the transparency and clarity of policies implemented by the UAE’s federal government, a key incentive in attracting foreign direct investments to the country,” said Al Hajiri in a statement.
Abu Dhabi skyline: A UAE Cabinet decision announced on Sunday giving 10-year visas for investors and scientists is seen as a major economic booster, allowing it to draw more people with advanced skills and enhancing the UAE's ability to build a knowledge-based economy. File
“Ten-year visas for investors and scientists, will add value to the UAE’S economy as this move aims to attract people of advanced skills, especially in areas of science and knowledge amid the UAE’s goals to build a knowledge based economy.”
Reuters: Property stocks in Dubai and Abu Dhabi rose in early Monday trading after the United Arab Emirates approved a system to grant residency visas of up to 10 years to investors and specialists. #UAE— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) May 21, 2018
He also added that Abu Dhabi DED plans to use these decisions to implement initiatives as part of its programme to attract more FDI into the capital.
Abu Dhabi is investing billions of dirhams in building infrastructure, creating free zones and developing tourism and leisure sectors as it tries to boost growth and diversify the economy.
The Department of Economic Development expects Abu Dhabi to achieve a three per cent average growth from 2018 to 2021 with 4.2 per cent growth in the non-oil sector and two per cent for the oil sector.
Abu Dhabi has attracted around Dh95 billion FDI as of end of 2016 and the department recently launched an investment office to attract more investment.
Hamad Bu Amim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the decision reflects the wise vision of the leadership and its strong commitment to stimulating the economy and adapting to the needs of its fast-growing business community.
This move sends a clear message that the UAE is a competitive market which is open to international investors.”
- Hamad Bu Amim | President, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
“The move sends a clear message that the UAE is a competitive market which is open to international investors and conducive to business growth. At the same time, I expect that the new measures will help raise the UAE’s global profile as a preferred investment destination, positively impact the local business environment and ultimately enhance the country’s economic competitiveness.”
“The UAE government is unique in its ability to work with the business community towards a common vision. The new system is a great example of the progress which can be achieved through close cooperation between the public and private sectors,” added Bu Amim.
Sharjah skyline: New measures announced on Sunday allowing 100% foreign ownership of UAE-based businesses and 10-year visas to investors, scientists and top students are expected to raise the UAE’s global profile. File
Y Sudhir Kumar Shetty, President of the Indian Business and Professional Group in Abu Dhabi said the new measures by the UAE government will not only boost confidence in the UAE’s economy but will also attract more tourists to the country.
UAE will become an investment-friendly destination. There will be a long-term commitment from investors.”
- Y. Sudhir Kumar Shetty | President, Indian Business and Professional Group
“The UAE will become an investment friendly destination. There will be a long-term commitment from investors as visas will be issued for a 10-year period,” said Shetty adding that investments from Indian businessmen will further go up due to the latest decision by the UAE Cabinet.
“Indians have been already investing in construction, retail and medical services since many decades and you will see more investments moving forward.”
Chinese Business Council in the UAE welcomed the decision of the UAE Cabinet to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies
“We are very much looking forward to the increasingly open market in the UAE. More and more Chinese companies will set up businesses to contribute to the economic development,” said Qipu Wen, Executive Director of Office Of Chinese Business Council.
Chinese companies are investing heavily in the UAE.
In Kizad (Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi) alone, Chinese investments totalled $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) in the last one year.
Unveiling sweeping new initiatives
.@HHShkMohd: The #UAE offers an open & tolerant living environment, deeply rooted values, and excellent infrastructure. Our flexible regulations attract int’l investments & exceptional talent… #UAE will always shine as the land of opportunities. pic.twitter.com/2HgwA8ZmHE— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) May 20, 2018
.@HHShkMohd chairs #UAE Cabinet meeting & announces decisions allowing 100% ownership of UAE-based enterprises for int’l investors, residency visas for up to 10 years for investors & professionals (doctors, engineers, etc.) and their families in addition to grade ‘A’ students. pic.twitter.com/KNLtHhPNdd— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) May 20, 2018
.@HHShkMohd orders concerned Gov’t entities to implement decisions before the end of 2018. His Highness also orders extension of residency for students sponsored by their parents after completion of their graduate studies to allow for ample time to decide on career paths. #UAE pic.twitter.com/9mZJCjiggW— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) May 20, 2018
Social media goes into overdrive after #Cabinet decision
The UAE’s new amendment to its residency visa rules sent social media into a frenzy yesterday. People took to different social media platforms to praise this landmark move, while others discussed its implications and raised concerns.
The UAE government is now offering a 10-year residency visa to investors, specialists, their families, and high-achieving students.
The new rule was approved at a Cabinet meeting chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Presidential Place in Abu Dhabi.
Facebook user Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury commented on our Gulf News post and said: “One more positive step. It certainly will encourage lots of people to invest here. All the best [to the] UAE.”
Another reader, Musadiq Shah said: “Very valid decision. It will help [boost] confidence [in the country]”.
On Twitter, people used #UAE-based, #Cabinet and #UAE when discussing the new rule and were top trends.
On Sunday, Shaikh Mohammad tweeted the news from his official twitter handle and his comment was retweeted over 2,000 times.
Twitter user @mdrafi replied to his tweet and said: “Your Highness, to be honest when I was living in Dubai I loved the city so much, as I could see peace and happiness not only in [myself, but in] others [...] Lots of my relatives live there. Everyone I met [has] great love and respect towards the rulers.
While online reactions were positive, some readers raised a few queries and concerns.
Facebook user Waqas Ahsan wondered if specialists will need job offers or if they will be given visas on the basis of their credentials.
Najm Al Deen Tambawala asked about the investment amount required to qualify for the visa and Gulf News reader Nimisha Agarwal wanted to know if top achievers were considered if they are from the UAE or any other country.
This decision has started a discussion about the future for many and growth within the country. There are a lot of questions that people are raising, but the overall sentiment on social media platforms is that this move is very positive for expatriates in the UAE.
By Shreya Bhatia, Reader Interactivity Journalist
New visa and investment rules in UAE: Your queries answered
Dubai: The UAE has announced sweeping new reforms to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership in companies and long-term residence visas for skilled and creative employment categories.
The decisions, made during a Cabinet meeting on Sunday chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will reinforce the UAE’s position as a top destination for international investors and global talent.
Here are some of the key questions with regards to the new decisions:
What is the new rule regarding 10-year residence visas?
Under the new category of visas announced on Sunday, 10-year residency visas will be granted for investors and specialists in medical, technical and research fields, as well as for all scientists and innovators. These categories would include but not be restricted to doctors and engineers, and the long-term visas will also cover the families of every such eligible person.
Will categories such as MBA degree holders, pharmacists, nurses, teachers and lawyers considered professional?
It is not exactly clear which categories will be covered under the various specialists mentioned by the Cabinet decision. Shaikh Mohammad cited doctors and engineers as examples in his tweets, and the categories eligible for 10-year residence visas will extend to various professions.
Will the professionals being granted a 10-year visa need to invest anything in the UAE? How much will this visa cost?
No, listed professional categories do not need to invest anything to qualify for the 10-year visa, unless they are applying as investors. The details of the new visa system, including the cost, are still awaited.
What about new visas for students?
The new rules grant five-year residency visas for students studying in the UAE. The Cabinet has also asked for a review of the residency system and extend residency permits of students who are sponsored by their parents, after completing their university studies. This will help such students with future residence and possible employment in the UAE. Currently, students in the UAE need to renew their visa every year.
What is the criteria for selecting exceptional students?
It also has a provision of 10-year visas for “exceptional” students — though the exact criteria for who will make up exceptional students has not been announced yet. It is also not clear whether such students need to be based in the UAE or those from abroad can also apply.
Is the new 10-year visa linked to employment?
The Cabinet decision clearly said that the new visas are residence permits that will be granted to selected categories of professionals, investors, innovators and those in creative fields. It outlined some of those categories as those working in medical, technical, research and engineering fields. However, the exact ramification of this and whether such residence permits will allow specialists to be able to switch their job contracts is not yet clear.
What are the new rules for 100% foreign investment?
Under the new decision, foreign companies will be allowed to own 100 per cent of their business in the UAE outside free zones — a major departure from the current practice of requiring an Emirati partner with a majority stake. Currently, only companies based in various free zones around the UAE were eligible for the 100 per cent ownership rule. Further, foreign investors establishing a business or simply investing money in the UAE will now be eligible for a visa of up to 10 years. A range of businesses — from start-ups to city-based trades to knowledge economy companies — will be the biggest benefactors from the decision. This will also attract new capital infusion into the UAE economy from investors around the world.
When will these measures come into effect?
Shaikh Mohammad has directed the Ministry of Economy to implement the resolution and follow up on its developments, in coordination with all concerned stakeholders. He has asked for a detailed report to be submitted in the third quarter of this year, and the measures will come into force by the end of 2018.
Why did the UAE undertake these new measures?
The Cabinet resolutions mark a bold new era for the UAE, but they are in line with the UAE leadership’s continued focus on attracting top international investments as well as exceptional talent to the country and build a solid foundation for a diversified knowledge economy. The UAE is already the most diversified and open economy in the Middle East, but these policies with long-term implications will further lift the UAE’s economic competitiveness globally.
How will these measures help the UAE?
In the words of Shaikh Mohammad, the UAE “will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents to the UAE”. That position will not only transform the quality of the UAE’s workforce, but also ensure social and economic stability and ensure a strong surge in home-grown talent. Along with that, the funds remitted by the UAE’s expat population — which stood at Dh164.3 billion in 2017 — could well be spent back in the local economy if residents settle in the country and possibly invest in the local real estate due to the benefit of a long-term visa.
How did the UAE markets react to the news?
Markets in the UAE rallied on Monday on the news, led mainly by property stocks: Shares of DAMAC and Aldar Properties both jumped over one per cent. Traders said the Cabinet decision will give comfort to investors in the country, especially property owners.
Doctors welcome 10-year visa plan
Abu Dhabi: Medical professionals across the UAE have hailed Sunday’s Cabinet decision that will provide 10-year residence visas for specialists like themselves, calling it the best government decision they had come across so far.
The long-term visas will provide a much-needed sense of stability, and allow professionals to plan for their futures, doctors told Gulf News on Monday.
“This is a benchmark decision that will definitely increase the flow of qualified health care professionals to the UAE. But on a personal level, it helps people like me make plans for our future. The stability will allow me to enrol for further professional qualifications, for instance,” said Dr Rashmi Mathai, internal medicine specialist at Universal Hospital, told Gulf News. Dr Mathai hails from India.
“What’s more, I believe the decision will help encourage further medical research as professionals can be assured that they will have the time and opportunity to complete ground-breaking long-term studies,” she added.
In practical terms, specialist doctors, consultants and those of higher ranks will not need to undergo the visa medical screening every two years, as has been customary so far.
“Such a decision definitely increases our loyalty towards the UAE. It indicates the leadership’s appreciation for the talent that has chosen to call the UAE its home, and definitely enables us to feel less like outsiders,” said Dr Hesham Souka, general surgeon and medical director at Medcare Hospital, Sharjah.
Dr Souka, a British passport-holder with Egyptian ethnicity, relocated to the UAE three years ago, and he says the Cabinet’s announcement has made him feel even more welcome.
We don’t have to worry about the practicalities of frequently renewing our visas, and I believe this allows us to focus on patient care. Honestly, I had thought I might stay for two to three years but we love it here and I don’t see any reason to leave now.”
- Dr Hesham Souka | General surgeon and medical director at Medcare Hospital, Sharjah
“We don’t have to worry about the practicalities of frequently renewing our visas, and I believe this allows us to focus on patient care. Honestly, I had thought I might stay for a two to three years but we love it here and I don’t see any reason to leave now,” Dr Souka said.
Dr Yasmin Sajjad added that she feels even more committed to her goals.
“I used to head up one of the largest fertility centres in the United Kingdom, and I moved here about two years ago to explore newer horizons. Then I found that I especially liked interacting with Emirati patients. With the added stability afforded by this decision, I plan to stay on and serve them for much more time to come,” said Dr Sajjad, head of department and director of IVF at Burjeel Hospital. She is a British national with Pakistani origins.
Highly skilled medical professionals will find it more attractive to come to the UAE as currently many of them consider it difficult to relocate for short-term opportunities due to disruption of their professional work as well as their children’s education. These issues will be addressed with this assurance.”
- Dr Azad Moopen | Founder and chairman of Aster DM
Dr Thumbay Moideen, founder and president of the Thumbay Group that currently operates numerous hospitals, clinics and laboratories in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said that the decree will help boost the economy.
While the decision has been widely greeted, professionals did add, however, that there is still a need for further clarification on when, and how exactly, it will be put into effect.
By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
Stage set for global specialists to work in UAE
Dubai: The health care sector stands to hugely benefit from changes to the UAE’s visa laws, which will provide doctors with long-term residency of up to 10 years, according to senior industry executives.
On Sunday, the UAE Cabinet announced that it would be introducing a new system of entry visas for investors and skilled professionals later this year, providing them with a long-term visa.
In a statement emailed to Gulf News, Dr Rakesh Suri, chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, said that the decision was an important step towards developing a knowledge-based economy.
“The availability of long-term visas will support our efforts to bring global specialists to the UAE, who in turn will contribute to the development of the next generation of Emirati national caregivers,” Suri said.
A company spokesperson for Mediclinic Middle East, which operates six hospitals and 23 clinics in the UAE, said that the company was pleased to hear the news.
“As an international health care company, we actively seek medical experts from around the world and these changes could further encourage individuals to come and work in the UAE,” the spokesperson added.
The new skilled visa is understood to encompass specialists in a range of medical, research and technical fields, as well as scientists and innovators.
Dr Azad Moopen, founder and chairman of Aster DM, said the decision would have a “huge impact” on the health care industry, where doctors are usually reluctant to relocate without a long-term plan.
“The highly skilled medical professionals who are required for setting up tertiary to quaternary care hospitals and institutions for medical education will find it more attractive to come to UAE in view of the long-term prospects. Many of them consider it difficult to relocate for short-term opportunities due to disruption of their professional work as well as their children’s education. These issues will be addressed if they can get an assurance of long-term employment. I firmly believe that the steps adopted by the visionary leaders of UAE in business ownership and long-term residency will help the health care sector positively.”
Dr Majid Shurrab, medical director at Al Tadawi Medical Centre, said: “The Cabinet decision granting 10-year residency visa will play major role in improving the UAE environment and will also make people feel happy to work in the UAE.
By giving this privilege, it will attract doctors, pharmacists and engineers to come here and this in return will create a high standard community. This will make health professionals feel secure because they don’t have to worry about their visa for 10 years. They will be able to open their clinics, buy their houses, and bring their families. It will make them feel like they are home.”
By Ed Clowes, Staff Reporter
The 10-year residency visa will attract doctors, pharmacists and engineers to come here and this in return will create a high standard community. This will make health professionals feel secure ... They will be able to open their clinics, buy their houses, and bring their families. It will make them feel like they are home.”
- Dr Majid Shurrab | Medical director at Al Tadawi Medical Centre
Students expect new visa rules to help them work and study
Abu Dhabi: Students in the UAE have greeted the new visa rule changes with delight, saying the new visa system will help them find jobs as well as provide them with more peace of mind while carrying out their studies.
Announced on Sunday by the UAE Cabinet, the new visa system will provide university students with a five-year residence visa, and a 10-year visa for exceptional students.
“The UAE has been my home for the last four years. I got so used to the way of life here. I believe that given we have received our education here, we truly should have the ability to stay in the country for a time period after we graduate to search for jobs, search for housing and even just enjoy the country that has been our home,” said Mariam Ashraf Hanna, an Egyptian student studying finance at American University of Sharjah (AUS).
The UAE has been my home for the last four years. I believe that having received our education here, we should have the ability to stay in the country for some time after we graduate to search for jobs, search for housing, or just enjoy the country that has been our home.”
- Mariam Ashraf Hanna | Egyptian student studying finance at American University of Sharjah
Mohammad Rafik, an Algerian studying environmental health and safety at Abu Dhabi University was also positive with the news, saying it gave him more assurances.
Students at American University of Sharjah. The new visa rules will give fresh graduate expats more time to find a job, giving them an added sense of security, academic say. Picture for illustrative purposes. Courtesy: AUS
“I think it’s a very good decision, it provides us students with more security while we are living here and doing our studies.
“I have lived in the UAE for 18 years and see this country as my home, my future plans are connected to this country and so this new system is really beneficial for students like me, it opens a long term window for us to stay in the country,” he added.
Yousuf Geit, an Egyptian AUS engineering student said the new rules would significantly boost job prospect for new graduates.
Mohammad Fawzi, an Egyptian engineering post graduate student at the University of Wollongong, Dubai, said the visa extension would be a big help for researchers.
“It will definitely decrease the pressure on the many fresh graduates looking for a job. Many of my older friends are taking any internships for the possibility of securing a job but they don’t. So this decision will definitely help by giving us some negotiation power.”
Renaam Kamran Sami, a Pakistani student studying chemical engineering at AUS, echoed the same view, noting how finding jobs could be made easier.
Since I am [studying] chemical engineering, there are more opportunities for me in the UAE. So if they extend my visa after graduating I can stay in the country for some time and apply for jobs and go for interviews.”
- Renaam Kamran Sami | Pakistani student studying chemical engineering
“Since I am [studying] chemical engineering, there are more opportunities for me in the UAE. So if they extend my visa after graduating I can stay in the country for some time and apply for jobs and go for interviews.”
100% ownership of UAE companies allowed to foreign investors
2.8% projected growth rate of the UAE’s non-oil GDP for 2018
Yousuf Emad Radwan, an Egyptian student also studying chemical engineering said the extended visa would mean students would not have to leave the country to try and find a job.
It will be a very good enhancement because being in the country while looking for [a] job will help with more opportunities. With an extended visa I will be able to stay while looking for a job and then just switch sponsors when I get a job.”
- Yousuf Emad Radwan | Egyptian student studying chemical engineering
“It will be a very good enhancement because being in the country while looking for [a] job will help with more opportunities. With an extended visa I will be able to stay while looking for a job and then just switch sponsors when I get a job.”
Mohammad Fawzi, an Egyptian engineering post graduate student at the University of Wollongong, Dubai, said the visa extension would be a big help for researchers.
“It’s a very wise decision from the leadership of the UAE, the country is a great incubator for knowledge and this will make it much easier for students — both undergraduate and post graduate — to find jobs. The 10-year visa in particular is perfect, especially if you are doing research, it will provide a lot of stability and will give a lot of freedom for innovative thinkers.”
The news has also been welcomed by academics in the country, who say the new visa rules are another step forward for the country’s higher education sector.
“This is very good for students, it provides them with a lot more security and settlement, and it also helps us keep the talent pool within the UAE,” said Deena Al Sori, the chair at the Department of Applied Sciences and Mathematics at Abu Dhabi University.
“One of the major concerns our students have had is what will happen once they graduate and don’t get a job. We have had good students who sometimes didn’t want to finish early because of their visa status, so this new change will be a big relief for them and it will help reduce a lot of anxiety and worries,” she added.
“Overall this is a good move for the country’s education sector, anything that we can always do to help and support students is a good thing. In both Europe and the US they have similar models to encourage students, and so it’s a good thing that we are also developing a similar one as well,” she said.
By Sami Zaatari, Staff Reporter
— With inputs from Tamara Abueish, intern at Gulf News