People at Violation Center of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai(GDRFA) at Al Awir in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Leading figures from the business, tourism and academic sectors welcomed the new visa rules that went into effect on Sunday in the UAE.

The new rules will benefit widows and divorced women, visitors and tourists and students.

Widows and divorced women can now obtain a one-year residency visa extension without the need for a sponsor, starting from the date of the spouse’s death or divorce. It also covers their children living in the UAE

Also, visitors and tourists can apply for a new 30-day visa after the expiry of the first one without the need to leave the country. The extension can be availed of twice.

Meanwhile, students sponsored by parents after completing their university or high school, or those turning 18 years of age, will be given a one-year residency visa that can be renewed for another year. The new rules were announced by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship implementing the cabinet decision.

Corporate leaders told Gulf News the move will boost business and make it more attractive for traders and professionals to settle in the UAE.

Greater flexibility

Mohan Jashanmal, regional manager of Jashanmal National Company Abu Dhabi, said: “It’s a wonderful decision for the business community. We want a free economy so that business people can come and go anytime they want with greater flexibility in visa extensions. Thus they can navigate business opportunities and initiate their business ventures easily. It’s simple: the more people will visit and stay in the UAE, the more businesses will do better.”

Another businessman, B.R. Shetty, chairman of the New Medical Centre (NMC) Group, said: “The extension of visitors visa without leaving the country is a good thing. It will save tourists and visitors money as they don’t have to spend on travelling back and returning to the UAE again on another visit visa.”

Tourism extension

Ebrahim Al Thehlee, an Emirati who runs tourism company Asfar, said: “Many expats visit the UAE each day on different types of tourist and visit visas. Under the previous rules, they had to exit the country and obtain a new permit to re-enter the country. But now they can stay here and simply extend their visa. It’s a great decision.”

Foreigners who visit the UAE to search for jobs sometimes find that a month or two is not enough — they can now extend their stay without exiting the country, Al Thehlee added.

“This is good for the UAE economy as they [tourists, jobseekers, visitors] spend money here, rent apartments and stay in hotels,” he said.

Social dividends

Meanwhile, students and academicians said the move will help families stay together in the UAE.

Jordanian expat Jameel Salah, 21, said: “This is another progressive decision by the UAE government that complements the other visa rule changes that they have already implemented this year. I think this new rule will be mutually beneficial for families living in the UAE and for the country as well.”

Salah added: “This latest decision will provide families and their children with a good sense of security for their long-term future in the UAE. It’s one less thing to worry about during an emotionally difficult time.”

John Rice, a dean of the business college at the Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, said: “This is a very humane and far sighted initiative from the federal government. The change in visa policy provides time for families to adjust after the difficult loss of the head of the family.”