Dubai: Senior expats living in the UAE have welcomed the introduction of the new retirement visa programme for foreign nationals in the UAE, which many consider home.
For decades, working class professionals who find jobs or do business in the UAE, have been building their savings and making a life for themseleves here, only to be uprooted as they age and return to their home countries.
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But the latest retirement visa programme announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday has changed all that.
Indian couple Ranesh Bagchi, 65 and Somabha Bagchi, 60, said they welcome the initiative by the UAE government. “It is definitely a step in the right direction. There are many couples like us who have invested years of service in the UAE. The UAE is home to us now. For me personally, this is my first home, although my relatives are back in India. Considering the number of years of service we have put in, the visa gives us a feeling that we are wanted and loved back the way we love the UAE. For a working class professional, there is hope now,” said Ranesh, a senior executive for an oil and gas company in Dubai.
His wife Somabha, however, wanted clarifications with respect to any additional taxations and expenses that may come with the move. “ The minimum salary of Dh20,000 may not be enough to meet a whole lot of expenses. So I am hoping there will be no additional costs.”
American expat of Pakistani origin Shahid Nawaz, 67, said he was delighted the UAE is building a retirement community. “It is similar to the southern states of the US where it is warmer and senior citizens move down there to settle down. I think the UAE has created all the right ingredients for all age groups in the Emirates. From a recreational point of view, I would hope that more activities will be added for senior groups, especially now that the country is building a community.
“My concern is the medical insurance requirement. I am hoping that the government comes up with a special scheme,” he said.
Indian expat T.K. Raman, 60 and his wife Uma think this is a win-win for the UAE economy and expat residents.
“It gives expats of our generation a new option for their post -retirement lives. My wife and I are long-time residents of the UAE and have spent more years here than in our country of birth. Calling UAE our second home is clichéd because we truly consider it our first home. We will certainly consider this option seriously but are awaiting the details. A 10-year option instead of just the five year renewal will give more certainty for longer term residency planning, especially considering the age and stage of life of the target audience,” said Raman, group chief financial officer of Finance House.
Health insurance concerns
Ashok Kapoor, 63 and Gayatri Sonia Kapoor, 60, are also thrilled.
“This is wonderful news for all expats who like me have already made the UAE their quasi retirement home. We have already invested in property and look forward to applying for the visa once more details are available,” said Ashok, a consultant working in Dubai.
His wife Sonia said that to make the retirement visa truly workable, the UAE government should come up with a reasonably priced health insurance scheme for this category of people.
“I am sure this initiative will have a positive effect on the economy and investment climate. It will also create an opportunity for new businesses to come up with products and services targeted at the senior segment, including assisted living facilities,” she said.
Swedish expat Christer Viktorsson from Abu Dhabi said the UAE has been home to him for over 10 years. “It would have felt strange leaving the UAE after my retirement. I will seriously consider taking up on the visa programme.”