Dubai: Portugal and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest recipient of the Gold Card residency visa in the UAE.
The Juventus striker, who bagged the ‘Best Player of the Year’ award at the annual Dubai Globe Soccer Awards at the end of December for a record sixth time, is a regular visitor to the UAE since the last few years.
Ronaldo, who turned 35 on February 5, started off with Sporting Lisbon before his memorable stints with Manchester United and Real Madrid. After Portugal’s narrow 3-2 loss to Uruguay in the 2018 Fifa World Cup, he moved on to Juventus where he has so far netted 41 times in his 51 appearances for the Turin giants.
Earlier this year, the UAE Cabinet endorsed the move to grant long-term residency permits (Gold Cards) to creators, scientists and entrepreneurs based on their contribution and influence on society.
The Cabinet has also announced that promising athletes in the UAE would be eligible for gold visas after it approved the new residency scheme in the first week of February.
One of the most marketable athletes in the world, Ronaldo has been ranked the world’s highest paid athlete by Forbes in 2016 and 2017. He was also named the most famous athlete by ESPN from 2016 to 2019.
The Portuguese star is rampantly popular on social media, with Ronaldo the most followed user on Instagram. And with earnings of more than 720 million euros from 2010 to 2019, Ronaldo was ranked second in the Forbes list on highest paid athletes of the decade.
Ronaldo has always held Dubai close to his heart. At the two-day conference held at the end of December, he had spoken about his love for the city while also applauding the tremendous support he has received from the community in the region.
Among his legion of fans and followers, Ronaldo can count Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) among his close friends. He has been a regular at his private sporting facility situated at Nad Al Sheba.