(Additional comment added)

The United Arab Emirates has launched today the permanent residency system for investors and exceptionally skilled foreigners, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE announced today.

The permanent residency visa named the ‘Golden Card’ will be granted to investors and exceptionally competent individuals in the fields of medicine, engineering, science, and all arts, according to the official twitter of account of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The first batch of those eligible for permanent residency for a "Golden Card" in the UAE reached 6,800 investors, whose total investments reach 100 billion UAE dirhams ($273 million), according to one Arabic tweet by the ruler of Dubai.

Another tweet added that the permanent residency will be granted to those who contribute positively to the success story of the UAE.

”We want them to be permanent partners with us in our journey. All residents in the UAE are our brothers and part of our great family in the UAE,” the Arabic tweet said.

According to Anir Chatterji, Middle East immigration & employment leader at PwC Legal, the UAE has been at the forefront of driving change to the existing immigration structure (which is broadly the same across the GCC) and for opening opportunities for highly-skilled professionals to benefit from longer-term residency - thereby offering these individuals greater investment security and stability.

“This new development of permanent residency is an extension of this policy and it is likely to be viewed positively by the ‘in-scope’ individuals and business community at large as it will open the doors to more foreign direct investment and, in turn, sustained economic activity and development,” he said in emailed comments to Zawya.

“Many expatriates call the UAE home and this new development will allow individuals to stay in the UAE for a longer period, which is welcome news for investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents, researchers, and outstanding students (and their dependents),” he added.

The announcement follows the approval of the Saudi Cabinet last week for granting ‘green card’-style visas for highly-skilled foreigners and owners of capital funds with other sets of benefits as part of a ‘Privileged Residence System’. (Read more here).

“The recent announcement in Saudi didn’t necessarily have a direct impact on this. That being said, there has been a drive to standardise a number of initiatives in the immigration space in the GCC countries, and to continue to find innovative ways to attract sustained economic investment activity and prosperity,” Chatterji said.

“This means the opening up of the historically static immigration regime is a key enabler for facilitating such change, and we consider that the recent announcement in the UAE is a welcome step for the business community at large,” he added.

(Reporting by Nada Al Rifai; Editing by Michael Fahy)


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