KT edit: Dubai leads charge in the UAE's visa reforms

Dubai - Dubai, the leading city in the MENA region, leads the nation’s charge to top the coveted ranking.

Published: Wed 13 Jan 2021, 8:11 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Jan 2021, 7:14 AM

It’s another shot in the arm for the UAE that will further boost its ranking in the World Bank’s annual ease of doing business index. Dubai, the leading city in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, leads the nation’s charge to top the coveted ranking. At present, the nation occupies the 16th spot. The UAE, the Arab world’s second-biggest economy, is implementing a raft of reforms that are aimed at improving its ease of doing business, attracting foreign investors, creating more jobs and diversifying its economy away from crude oil.

The UAE has already allowed a 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies in 13 sectors from manufacturing to renewable energy. It has also eased visa restrictions, provided incentives for small and medium enterprises and introduced a new insolvency law to help UAE residents clear bad debts.

On Wednesday, an agreement was signed between the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA)-Dubai and Dubai Tourism to provide e-services for special visa schemes. The latest pact by the Dubai authorities includes “Distinguished Guests and the Virtual Working” programmes, “Golden Visas” for investors and retirement visas. These entities will allow aspirants to apply for these special residency permits. Cruise ships and yachts are also covered by the pact.

Earlier in 2019, the UAE had initiated reforms to build a knowledge-based economy in a bid to facilitate entrepreneurs in the country and also foreign investors. Dubai’s move will enhance the UAE’s attractiveness among the expatriates, who consist over 88 per cent of the country’s population. The presence of rich and diverse expat talent will persuade foreign companies to enter and operate from the UAE. Dubai has reported an unusual rush of applicants for five- and 10-year visas for investors, entrepreneurs, specialists in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields, and “outstanding” students to “facilitate business and create an attractive and encouraging investment environment” in the country. The visa benefits also extend to the recipients’ spouse and children. The government also introduced long-term culture visas for artists in early October 2019.

The UAE government has opened up visas to welcome foreign investments and boost trade ties in the Middle East and North Asia (MENA) region, where the country acts as the gateway because of its strategic location. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has also issued the first “Golden Residence Permit” in Abu Dhabi. The programme was launched to assist the first batch of 6,800 eligible investors, who pledged investments worth Dh100 billion, to receive their Gold Cards. The UAE’s road to sweeping reforms is on track to further boost its robust economy.

More news from Opinion