Abu Dhabi: A UAE Cabinet decision announced on Sunday granting long-term visas for expatriate retirees is seen as a major social stabiliser and economic booster, attracting more people with advanced skills and enhancing the UAE’s ability to build a knowledge-based economy, experts said.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday announced the decision. Experts said it would help residents’ transition to retirement confidently.

Dr Abdullah Al Suwaiji, a leading Emirati human resources expert, said the new Cabinet decision reflects the visionary and wise approach of the UAE leadership and government in caring for its human resources, both Emiratis and expatriates, and in moving towards building a strong and integrated national economy — based on competitiveness at a regional and international level.

“This is a great decision that will go on to help expatriates’ transition to retirement confidently. It will also have a very positive impact on the economy and attract more people to the country, helping residents continue their life in the country post-retirement,” Dr Al Suwaiji said.

Dr Al Suwaiji added the new long-term visas for retirees along with other allowing 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.

The move, he said, will add value to the UAE’s economy as it will encourage professionals to live and work in the country post-retirement and attract people of advanced skills amid the UAE’s goals to build a knowledge-based economy.”

Expatriate retirees over the age of 55 years will get 5-year visa, with the possibility of renewal.

To qualify for the long-term visa, an expatriate retiree should have an investment in a property worth Dh2 million, or financial savings of no less than Dh1 million, or having an active income of no less than Dh20,000 per month.

Jasem Abdullah Al Naqbi, a member of the Federal National Council and a leading lawyer, said the decision reflects the wise vision of the leadership and its strong commitment to social stability of residents and stimulating the economy and adapting to the needs of its fast-growing business community.

Al Naqbi said the move will help raise the UAE’s global profile as a preferred retirement hub and investment destination, positively impact the local business environment and ultimately enhance the country’s economic competitiveness sends a clear message that the UAE is a competitive market which is open to international investors and conducive to business growth.

Al Naqbi stressed the new long-term visa for retirees combined with other recent measures allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of UAE-based businesses and 10-year visas to investors, scientists and top students will not only boost confidence in the UAE’s economy but will also attract more tourists to the country.

Dr Mohammad Al Khazraji, a leading Emirati lawyer, said the recent Cabinet measures is great news for long-time people who love to work and live in the UAE but don’t have anywhere to go after retirement and struggle to relocate themselves.

“Expatriates have been already investing in many businesses, including construction, retail and medical services since many decades and the new measures will definitely see more investments moving forward,” Dr Al Khazraji said.

Dr Al Khazraji said the law is extremely promising for people looking to keep long term ties with the UAE. “It will encourages expatriates who call the UAE home to invest here. Professionals who wish to live and work in the UAE can do so by providing consultancy services even after retirement,” said Dr Al Khazraji.

Nigel Green, the founder and CEO of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, said the UAE could soon join London, New York and Hong Kong in the world’s top 10 global financial centre rankings, thanks to new government laws affecting expatriates.

Green affirmed the UAE is perennially popular destinations for ambitious expatriates looking to embark upon or further their careers because of the incredible possibilities offered in terms of finance, trade and commerce, plus the famous ‘can do’ attitude and the low tax environment in these destinations.

“But they will become even more attractive locations for overseas talent thanks to the government passing these new laws that allow expats to stay on in the UAE long after they retire.”

Green added: “With the UAE becoming evermore appealing relocation destinations, recruiting more top talent here will inevitably become easier for companies that are based in the country.

“In addition, I believe that it will help further drive confidence in the UAE as a place for overseas firms to do business and invest.”