The skyline of one of Abu Dhabi's prime areas. It took the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council nine months to come up with a plan to streamline the capital’s urban growth. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: The good news keep coming. That is the first impression one gets when they read the latest decisions by the cabinet about easing up the employment and visa rules. But the decisions actually are much, much bigger than just good news.

The decisions, announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on Wednesday, profoundly change the way we do business. And by ‘we’, I mean the traditional Gulf way of regulating the entry and residence of foreigners in the country. Let me explain.

Major changes in UAE visa rules

Since the rise of the Gulf states in the second half of the 20th century, and the immense wealth that came with it due to the massive oil production, foreigners were looked at as a threat to the citizens way of life; taking their jobs, clogging up the streets and ultimately ‘ruining’ the local culture and customs.

The UAE always presented a different example. Since the founding of the federation, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan emphasized the need to open up the country to all those who want to make a decent living for themselves and families and to contribute to the development and progress of the country. The result is a fast growing, multicultural progressive country, which is always cited as a shining example of unmatched development, efficient government and tolerant society.

Sweeping visa, labour policy changes adopted by the UAE Cabinet

What Wednesday’s decision means is that the UAE is taking its open-door policy to another level. The rules have become more flexible in accommodating the rapidly changing needs of a fiercely-competitive market conditions. And this is what is unique about Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid’s style of leadership. He is direct to the point.

“The UAE is among the ten most competitive countries in the world and our goal is to remain a top destination for ease of doing business, through an agile economy based on flexibility and openness. A strong economy drives us as a nation to be among the first and best,” he wrote on twitter as he announced the cabinet decisions.

The visa changes are radical in every sense of the word. They will go a long way in boosting the different sectors of the economy, especially the real estate, tourism and the service sectors. They will also enhance if the sense of social stability among the expatriate community, henceforth, boosting the UAE’s appeal as a top destination for talent and innovation.