UAE's new visa rules will attract the best talent

These skilled students are the entrepreneurship segment we want to develop in the region.

By Mohammad Abdullah (Forward March)

Published: Fri 8 Jun 2018, 10:06 PM

The UAE Cabinet's new visa regulations - announced on May 20, 2018, by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai - are a welcome change to the UAE's education sector in its efforts towards driving a knowledge-based economy.
Acknowledging the nation's focus on attracting and retaining professional and skilled talent, the new laws allow students to obtain five-year residency visas with ten-year visas being awarded to exceptional students. Until the new legislations came into effect, most overseas students were required to renew their visas annually.
Visa acquisition is considered one of the top barriers to studying abroad for many students looking to travel, according to a 2017 market research study published by Dubai International Academic City. The study also revealed that employability in the host country is a key decision making it a factor for students wanting to study abroad.
In a game-changing move, the new regulations are set to boost the attractiveness of the UAE as a higher education hub, and also increase the retention of exceptional students after graduation. It will help the UAE maintain an extensive talent pool to fill employment gaps, thereby supporting the government's economic diversification efforts.
Thus, today's students will become tomorrow's entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.
Yet another advantage is that graduates will be able to stay in the country and explore the option of working for an organisation, or even venture into entrepreneurship. In fact, these skilled students are the entrepreneurship segment we want to develop in the region, with the UAE aiming to encourage a startup ecosystem supporting new ideas and innovations.
The new regulations also empower talented professionals specialising in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields, through offering ten-year residency visas. The injection of talent and investment into the education sector will, in turn, have a positive spillover effect into the development of other sectors, especially so for universities that already have strong relationships with leading industry stakeholders.
For many years, DIAC has helped students secure employment, through partnerships with organisations and with events such as the DIAC Career Fair. These regulations will help build on what we have done previously, by enhancing the infrastructure that will significantly strengthen the country's status as a leading destination for students and professionals alike, contributing towards developing the region into a world-class international higher education hub.
Mohammad Abdullah is Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park and President of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation

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