Staff at General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai.
Staff at General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Archives

Dubai: A total of 7,000 golden visas have been handed out in Dubai so far, a senior official at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) said.

Major General Mohammad Al Marri, director-general of GDRFA-Dubai said the 7,000 beneficiaries were investors, scientists, talents, athletes and their families.

He said the beneficiaries were from 103 nationalities. “The new system for residency is a strong boost to the real estate sector. The gold card scheme included people who own a property for at least Dh5 million inside the country,” Maj Gen Al Marri said during his key speech at the Cityscape Global Summit last week.

The gold card is a long-term residency programme announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in May 2019. It aims at granting residency to investors, athletes, exceptional doctors, engineers, scientists and artists. In a major extension to the scheme on November 15, 2020, eligible doctors and PhD holders have also been included in the list of those eligible to secure ten-year golden visas. Engineers in the fields of computer engineering, electronics, programming, electricity and biotechnology, as well as graduates from UAE-accredited universities with a Grade Point Average of 3.8 and above are also among those eligible.

The golden visa will also be granted to holders of specialised degrees in artificial intelligence, big data, or epidemiology and virology in addition to UAE high school top graduates along with their families. “UAE will achieve the 2071 ambitious vision. We started the year 2020 with strong economic boost, but the global pandemic caused a temporary slowdown in growth,” Maj Gen Al Marri said. “There is a strong sign of recovery through the gradual increase in number of arrivals at Dubai Airports. It will accelerate the growth of various economic sectors.”

“This is the first batch and it will be followed by other categories. We want talented people and great minds to stay in the UAE and join us in the process of development and achievements,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted last week.

Retention of talent

The decision, which was approved by the UAE Cabinet, aims to attract and retain experts and talented professionals from various fields and scientific disciplines. The changes will take place starting from December 1, 2020.

In addition to the dynamic lifestyle and safety that are considered main characteristics of life in the UAE, Golden Residency holders and their families will be offered ten-year residency visas. The new Golden Residency categories expanded the programme to further encourage innovation, creativity and applied research, adding to the appeal of a career in the UAE for the world’s brightest minds.