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Dubai: For businesses long associated with UAE’s commercial landscape, a “gold residency” represents the final frontier … and one that could now be within their grasp.

“It was just recently that my father, Vasu Shroff, received the 10-year residency visa,” said Raju Shroff, CEO of Regal Group, which started out as a textile trading firm in 1952 and then diversified its interests into multiple sectors, including, in recent times, in real estate development. “The family was invited by the authorities to present the credentials — there were certain parameters that we met in the last 50 years.

“Now, with the gold residency permit, it would be our endeavour to be eligible for the permanent residency that comes with it.” (Multiple members of a family become eligible for the same residency rights.)

All of 6,800 individuals have been made eligible for the first lot of gold card permits, who have combined investments of Dh100 billion in the country.

As for Paras Shahdadpuri, who heads the Business Leaders Forum, the visa reform further secures the rights of overseas investors in the UAE.

“This is not about wishing to be a UAE passport holder — everyone understands the ground reality from the population numbers,” said Shahdadpuri. “But if arrangements can be made for a permanent residency for those with investment exposures in the country, that in itself represents true progress. In the present conditions, it will in its own way open up foreign investments into the country.”

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Shahdadpuri, who decided to set up business while on a stopover in Dubai during 1987, believes one more reform would complete the reform cycle. “If the authorities can drop the 51:49 requirement to have local sponsors to launch a business, we will get closer to that ideal business environment,” said the founder of the Nikai Group. “This matter has been raised at the federal level, but on an informal basis. What’s important is that the authorities have always given an ear to what businesses say.”

He plans to apply for the gold card scheme at the earliest opportunity.

Investors and business owners are waiting to know the base parameters that will define their eligibity for the scheme. While it is clear cut for professionals in sectors such as health care and other highly skilled professions, what would a business owner need to do? What businesses can qualify and what would the level of investment be?

Bharat Bhatia, CEO of Conares and owner of a steel mill in Dubai, is one who wants to be part of the permit’s ambit at the earliest.

“The permanent residency system will be a catalyst in boosting many business sectors — and industries — empowering the country marching towards achieving the goals of Vision 2030,” he said. “I am planning to apply for this and look forward to several more of such initiatives.

“The UAE is what we always consider as a “home”. This will positively enhance the multi-cultural appeal of this nation.”