Dubai: The long-term UAE residence visa system, popularly known as golden visa, is providing expats a sense of belonging and stability in the UAE, their second home, a top official said during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Wednesday in Dubai.
Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA Dubai), said the 10-year visa is renewable every 10 years, effectively granting expats, who make up most of the UAE’s population, permanent residency.
Announced in 2019, the 10-year visa, often called “golden visa”, is granted to certain categories, such as investors in public investments and persons with specialised talents. There is also a five-year visa, renewable every five years, for categories such as outstanding students and property investors.
‘Invest in expatriates’
On Wednesday, Al Merri said the UAE leadership is keen “to invest in expatriates and foster among them a culture of trust and confidence in UAE society”.
He added: “If you live a society and don’t feel belonged, you cannot give back your best. So this psychological safety [of long-term visas] is very important. It is the importance of you and your family feeling secure and safe in a good society like the UAE.”
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Al Merri said so far 2,100 persons have received the golden visa, which can also be granted to individuals who are outside the UAE.
“Some of them live in Dubai already and some will come from outside to invest in Dubai, and as intellectuals, sportspersons, business persons, creative people and others.”
His comments came during a panel discussion on ‘Investing in the Future’ at the annual festival held at Intercontinental hotel, Dubai Festival City.
“I’m fortunate as a director-general to have a team of people who have the merits of loyalty to their work and to their country, which hosted expatriates and made them feel it’s their second home,” Al Merri said.
More than 15 million people visited Dubai in 2019, he added, pointing out many of them decided to make Dubai their second home. “They didn’t come only to see the city, that is why providing safety and security, of all kinds, is very important.”
Dubai, Al Merri said, “is an inspiring city which inspires citizens and expats; it is very familiar to them, they don’t feel they are strangers in this land”.
‘Morals and values’
Al Merri said Emiratis have always been a welcoming people who are open to others, regardless of their background. He added that “morals and values”, such as hospitality and tolerance, are the most important aspect of society and will be on full display at the Expo 2020 Dubai, which starts in October.
The panel included professional trainer and author Farhad Kardani, better known as “Coach Kardan”.
“The UAE is not just about putting government systems together, but also about providing people opportunities to grow,” he said.
UAE’s long-term visa system
Normally, the UAE residence visa is valid between one and three years.
In 2019, the UAE announced a new long-term visa system, offering some categories five and 10-year visa, which are renewed automatically
This mean some expatriates are effectively granted permanent residency
The new system enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland
There are various conditions, however generally eligible for a 10-year visa are:
Investors in public investments of at least Dh10 million
Persons with specialised talents and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge such as doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors, as well as creative individuals in the field of culture and art
And eligible for a 5-year visa are:
- Investors in a property in the UAE
- Outstanding students
- UAE librarian of the year revealed
Alan Jacques from Uptown School, Dubai, on Wednesday won the ‘2020 School Librarian of the Year Award’ (private schools category) at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai.
The award’s fourth year saw a record 123 entries from all seven emirates.
Jacques told Gulf News after his win: “I’m really happy because the win actually represents our whole library and all the librarians who work there; there’s four of us who work there. And we’ve been working very hard in the last few years to develop ourselves and I think the decision today [Wednesday] shows the hard work of all of the people in our library.”
Jacques has been a librarian for 15 years – three of them at Uptown.
The awards are presented by the Emirates Literature Foundation and The Executive Council of Dubai in two categories: school librarians working in public (government) schools in the UAE and school librarians working in private schools in the UAE.
In the public schools category, the winner was Suhair Jalal Abdul Rahman from Rawdat Al Oula School, Abu Dhabi.
Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee, Emirates Literature Foundation, said: “You [librarians] do a crucial job, day in and day out… Don’t let anyone take away from you, what you do and how valuable and vital and important it is for our students… You are no longer unsung heroes, you’re champions of reading and therefore knowledge. You’re all heroes.”