Dubai: Although it doesn’t grant citizenship to foreigners,  the UAE is still one of the best destinations for people seeking residency outside their home country because it does not only offer a tax-free environment and good quality of life to its residents, its visa is quite affordable and doesn’t take very long to process.

In the latest Global Residence Programme Index (GRPI) by Henley & Partners, the UAE ranked number one in the Arab world and 15th globally, ahead of Hong Kong, Cyprus and Greece.

The UAE landed top 10 in key categories, including tax, quality of life, compliance and reputation. These, as well as other indicators like investment requirements, total costs, visa-free access, time to citizenship and citizenship requirements, quality of processing and processing time, were considered in the study.

Henley & Partners said that while other states require foreigners to invest in exchange for a residence permit, people looking to earn the right to stay in the UAE is not required to make a minimum investment.  It said that the total cost for obtaining residency in the UAE is “reasonable” when compared to other countries.

“No minimum investment is required for a UAE residence permit but establishment of a company in the UAE is required in most cases. Once the company has been fully set up and is in possession of the relevant trade license, the time frame for the process is usually one to two months, which is very quick,” Henley & Partners said.

However, while UAE citizens and residents enjoy tax-free personal income and capital gains, they do not have as good visa-free travel as those in other countries, according to Henley & Partners.

Overall, Portugal has the best residency programme, according to the index. It is followed by Austria, which takes the second place, Belgium in the third place, Malta, Australia, United States, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Jersey.

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme grants foreigners the right to live in the country and travel visa-free to all Schengen and European Union nations in exchange for a certain amount of investment in real estate.  The country’s immigration legislation has recently reduced the minimum qualifying investment cost to 350,000 euros.

 “[This change makes] the Portuguese programme one of the cheapest immigration-by-investment programmes in the European Union,” said Dominik Zunkovic, manager of Henley & Partners Middle East.

The world’s top 19 residency destinations:

1. Portugal

2. Austria

3. Belgium

4. Malta

5. Australia

6. United States

7. Canada

8. Switzerland

9. United Kingdom

10. Jersey


12. Latvia

13. Monaco

14. Singapore

15. UAE

16. Hong Kong

17. Cyprus

18. Greece

19. Bulgaria