Abu Dhabi: The New Year has brought in a bouquet of good news for Emirati women as well as expatriate investors, entrepreneurs, executives and specialists working in medicine, science or research. Outstanding students and retirees also have reason to cheer.
A new quota system that guarantees 50 per cent seats for women in the Federal National Council (FNC) takes effect from this year when elections will take place to the FNC. The move means that 20 women out of the 40 members of FNC will either be elected or appointed and it is expected to propel the UAE to the fourth position globally on a list compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
20out of the 40 members of FNC will be women
This year will also see more women enter top jobs in judiciary, diplomatic service and the labour market overall, thereby bringing in further gender equality to the workplace. UAE authorities have also set out measures to improve Emirati women’s participation in advanced sciences and to provide mandatory prenatal and postnatal health care to women.
The UAE Cabinet has approved a plan to allow foreigners to remain in the country even after retirement, from 2019 onwards. Expatriates aged 55 or above will now be eligible to secure a five-year retirement visa if they meet certain criteria: If one has property worth at least Dh2 million, or at least Dh1 million in savings, or an active income of more than Dh20,000 per month.
95%in school grades will be the cut-off for long-term student visa
Dr Abdullah Al Suwaiji, a leading Emirati human resources expert, said the Cabinet decisions reflect the visionary policies 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.
Al Suwaiji added that new long-term visas for retirees — along with other rules 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.
100% foreign ownership
Dr Mohammad Al Khazraji, a leading Emirati lawyer, said the recent Cabinet measures are great news for people who always loved to work and live in the UAE, but didn’t have anywhere to go after retirement and struggled to relocate themselves.
“The move 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,” Dr Al Khazraji added.
2019 will also likely witness approval for 100 per cent foreign ownership of UAE companies, which is currently only permitted in the free zones.
Allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies will make the UAE a much more attractive destination for investors looking to acquire local companies or set up operations in the UAE.
New long-term visas
During this year, investors, entrepreneurs, executives and specialists working in medicine, science or research will be granted permission to stay in the country for up to ten years on one visa.
Outstanding students will also be eligible for a long-term visa as part of the changes, which are expected to encourage professionals to settle in the UAE long term.
Upgrading of visas
Investors will be eligible for either a five or ten-year residency visas, depending on the size of their investment in the UAE.
An investor’s spouse, children, as well as one executive director and one adviser will also be eligible to obtain long-term visas.
Entrepreneurs with a previous project worth a minimum of Dh500,000, or those with the approval of an accredited business incubator in the UAE, will be granted a five-year visa, with the possibility of upgrading to an investor visa, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.
An entrepreneur’s business partners, three executive directors, spouse and children will also be granted visas under the scheme.
Researchers working in the disciplines of science and knowledge, as well as doctors, specialists, scientists and inventors will be granted ten-year visas, along with those working in the fields of culture and art.
Spouses and children will also be included under the visa for researchers, scientists and doctors.
Outstanding students with an average of at least 95 per cent in school and a grade point average of at least 3.75 on graduation from universities in the UAE and abroad will qualify for a five-year visa for themselves and their families.
The New Year cheer:
• 50 per cent seats reserved for women in Federal National Council.
• UAE to have more women in top jobs in judiciary, diplomatic service and the labour market, thereby ensuring greater gender equality in the workplace.
• Measures set out to improve Emirati women’s participation in advanced sciences and to provide mandatory prenatal and postnatal health care for women.
• Expatriate retirees to be allowed to secure visa to remain in the country after retirement.
• Investors, entrepreneurs, executives as well as specialists working in medicine, science or research will be granted permission to stay in the country for up to ten years on a single visa. — S.S.