The visa reforms, introduced recently in the UAE, will accelerate economic activities, create more job opportunities and boost foreign direct investment over a period of time, experts say.
Analysts, executives and legal experts said the new rules for the 10-year Golden Visa, five-year Green Visa and other reforms will attract global talent, skilled professionals, freelancers, investors, and entrepreneurs that will ultimately benefit the economy.
The new rules for the UAE Golden Visa, which will see the eligibility criteria for the 10-year residency permit expanded from September 2022, and the five-year Green Visa, aimed at exceptional talents, skilled professionals, freelancers, investors, and entrepreneurs, signals a positive move from the UAE leadership to attract and retain skilled labour and boost foreign direct investment, according to ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).
Scott Livermore, economic advisor at Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and chief economist and managing director of Oxford Economics Middle East, said the UAE’s amendments to its visa regulations comes at a time when the leadership is looking at how they can continue to grow and diversify the economy, with the understanding that talent and foreign investment will play a vital role. This distinguishes the UAE from many countries around the world, and within the region, where reforms have only focused on the business environment in order to draw in FDI, he said.
“The amendments offer greater certainty to those looking to relocate to the UAE and this will generate spillover benefits to investors, especially in those sectors dependent on high skilled labour. For example, the Golden Visa was previously more attentive of the past, looking exclusively at those who have made sizeable investments or contributed to the economy over a number of years. The latest changes make the Golden Visa more forward looking and dynamic,” he said.
Tourism to rise
Saad Maniar, senior partner at Crowe, said tourism sector is expected to develop further as visa reform will change the perspective of the tourist and residents alike to think of longer-term in UAE and even retirements here. This will definitely boost the GDP.
“Everyone will benefit, however travel and tourism will be the biggest beneficiary, given the flexibility in visa will increase the number of visitors to the UAE. Hospitality and leisure sector are also likely to create more jobs after the visa reforms,” Maniar told Khaleej Times.
Attracting global talent
Fadi Rizkallah, general manager, Freedom2Work.com, said the visa reforms would attract experts from all over the globe to the UAE that will help buildup its contribution to the economy.
“Agricultural and industrial experts will invest their expertise in boosting the economy by introducing superior industry standards. With more people living in UAE, it will increase the local consumption and automatically bolster the GDP of the country,” Rizkallah told Khaleej Times on Sunday.
He said real estate, healthcare, hospitality, tourism, IT, food and beverages will be among the beneficiary sectors of the visa reforms.
“The government and non-government sectors will also benefit as population increase will also contribute to national economy in the longer period,” he said.
Sustainable economic growth
Pratik Rawal, managing partner, Ascent Partners, said Dubai has once again evolved its policies with the ever-changing economic landscape and the latest visa reforms are one of the key aspects of a successful and sustainable economic growth.
“The new visa reforms change how living in Dubai is perceived, it is creative and fluid, open to exploration without limitations. It will create an economy that will thrive, and in turn, give quality work-life balance and a good mix of all ages a chance of benefiting from each other,” Rawal said.
In reply to a question about the major beneficiary of the reforms, he said fast-growing economies, usually have 360-degree impact.
“Positive visa reforms such as this, will have immediate benefits for individuals, families and startups, which will allow them to test the waters and bring their skill sets here for a wide variety of applications. Ecommerce, real estate, banking, retail, hospitality and tourism sectors, will considerably gain from the influx of new people,” Rawal said.
Fewer entry barriers
Piyush Pandey, senior partner-Legal at MBG Corporate Services, said the announcement that the UAE was making a radical adjustment to its visa regime took many residents off guard.
“A number of new benefits available to holders of residence permits have been introduced including, improving the ability of residents to sponsor family members, and making sponsor free residence permits easier to access. These promise to make building a life in the UAE a more stable, and attractive prospect for skilled professionals,” he said.
In addition, a number of new entry visas have been introduced and, the length of standard short stay visas has been doubled to 60 days. “These entry permits, particularly those available to job seekers and investors, will ensure that those looking for opportunities in the country will face fewer barriers to entry,” he said.
As a result of the new reforms, he said tourists to the UAE many now apply for a 5 year, multiple-entry visa. “Very similar to the visa entitlements of EU passport holders, this will allow holders that do not qualify for a visa on arrival to enter the county with far less red tape and spend more time (and money) here once they arrive,” he said.
“Aside from the obvious benefits to the tourism industry, with the increased length of short stay visas and the new multiple entry visa, the medical sector could also see major boost. A new medical visa has been introduced, allowing hospitals to sponsor patients for the duration of their treatment. If this is successful, the UAE could become a major destination for those seeking world class medical care,” Pandey said.
Rizkallah said visa reforms will also help in jobs creation and provide more employment opportunities to the residents as well as UAE nationals.
“Sectors involving real estate, hospitality, medicine , engineering, food and beverages will have potential to increase more job opportunities after the visa reforms. Individuals of affluence will be encouraged to invest in real estate which in turn would generate more job opportunities for a community that is built around the newly-developed lands,” he said.
“Real estate will create jobs for engineers and architects, the influx of professionals will require medical care, hospitality services ranging from restaurants to hotels for staycations, and a plethora of other opportunities,” he added.
Redefine jobs concept
Rawal said the concept of jobs has been redefined since the pandemic, where so many organisations had to evolve, opening doors to innovative modes of working.
“Self-employment is the next big thing, when talent has the freedom to work out of the conventional work frames, output and quality is optimal. This is where incubator programs and venture capital investments can help these minds innovate what jobs can be like in the coming years,” he said.
“Flexibility and freedom, creative sectors, co-working business centres, company set up sectors, e-commerce sectors, and art and science centres are some of the categories which will have attractive and innovative jobs. The conventional sectors certainly will have more openings too,” he said.
More jobs in tourism
Pandey said the tourism industry is likely to see the largest increase in new jobs as, tourists will now be capable of visiting the country more frequently and for longer periods.
“It is also possible that the UAE will see an increase in jobs in new tech start-ups, particularly those conducting Digital Asset activities. The new visa reforms come right on the heels of the UAE’s new Digital Asset Law and will assist in the cementing the UAE as a global leader in this sector,” he said.
He said the new visa regime, paired with the changes to the co-habitation, labour, and recreation laws evidence the UAE’s willingness to welcome expats into the country.
“It is also clear that the Authorities have learned from the consequences of Covid-19 pandemic, which saw record numbers of skilled professionals forced to leave the country. While the new reforms may increase jobs across all industries, they will also make those jobs more stable,” he said.