190614 Ziad Saleh
Ziad Saleh Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Ziad Saleh, CEO of Alain Pharmacy Group, became the first Arab expatriate to be issued with a UAE Gold Card permanent residency visa, it was announced by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship on Friday.

Saleh received his card along with Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, managing director of VPS Healthcare.

They were honoured with the permanent residency card as part of the ‘Investors Permanent Residence System’ implemented under the UAE Cabinet’s Resolution No 56 for 2018, which aims to help investors, entrepreneurs and qualified individuals who meet its criteria.

To be implemented in various phases, the ‘Investors Permanent Residence System’ will cover all investors residing in the UAE, totalling 7,000 investors. It will also cover other businessmen and entrepreneurs outside the UAE to promote for the UAE and further boost the country’s attractiveness as an exceptional hub for investments, and to support its economic and social competitiveness, the authority added.

The Gold Card allows its holders and their immediate family members (wife and children) to reside in the UAE without the need for a sponsor.

It also allows the holders to get visas for one of their senior employees (advisor or executive director along with their family members). They can also sponsor up to three domestic workers.

Dr Vayalil and Dr Saleh expressed their thanks and appreciation for the initiative, stressing that such a unique initiative will bolster the UAE’s investment environment, enhance its economic and social attractiveness and boost stability.

Earlier this year, the UAE Cabinet had approved the long-term visa system for expatriates announced by the country earlier this year, while also confirming the criteria that need to be met.

The UAE announced that it would grant five or ten-year residency visas to investors, entrepreneurs, and specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, and ‘outstanding’ students to “facilitate business and create an attractive and encouraging investment environment” in the country. The visa benefits also extend to the wider family (spouse and children).

The decision defines two categories of investors: Investors in a property of a value of Dh5 million or more will be granted a residence for five years.

Those making public investments through a deposit, an established company or a business partnership worth Dh10 million or more, or a total investment of not less than Dh10 million in all the areas mentioned as long as non-real estate investments are not less than 60 per cent of the total investment, will be granted a renewable residency visa every ten years.

The Cabinet decision outlines the following conditions for both categories: The amount invested shall be wholly owned by the investor and not loaned, and should be proven by supporting documents. Also, there ought to be investment retention for at least three years. A standard financial liability with a financial solvency not exceeding Dh10 million. The long-term visa could also be extended to include business partners (provided that each partner contributes Dh10 million), the spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.

The decision allows investors to enter the country on a six-month multiple entry visa.

In January, the government also granted the first batch of long-term visas to 20 scientists who were the winners and finalists of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence.