DUBAI- Bahrain on Monday introduced a new permanent residency visa to attract talent and investment, part of a trend in Gulf states to offer more flexible and longer-duration visas amid regional economic competition and as Bahrain works to fix its finances.
Foreigners in Gulf states have traditionally had renewable visas valid for just a few years tied to employment, limiting their stay.
The Golden Residency Visa, announced by the Interior Ministry, will be renewed indefinitely, include the right to work in Bahrain, unlimited entry and exit, and residency for close family members.
"(The visa) is aimed at attracting investors, entrepreneurs, and highly talented individuals who can contribute to Bahrain's ongoing success," the statement said.
The move is part of measures the small Gulf state is taking to resolve its heavily indebted finances. In October, it announced a new economic growth and fiscal balance plan, including major infrastructure projects.
To qualify for the visa, a person must have resided in Bahrain for at least five years and earned an average salary of at least BHD 2000 ($5,306) per month.
Those who own properties above a certain value, and retirees and "highly talented" individuals who meet certain criteria will also qualify.
Gulf neighbour and regional tourism and business hub the United Arab Emirates has, over the past couple of years, introduced longer-duration and more varied visas, and the chance to be granted Emirati citizenship, in a bid to retain professionals and their families.
($1 = 0.3770 Bahraini dinars)
(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Jon Boyle and Bernadette Baum) ((email@example.com;))