5-year Dubai visa: Now we can call the city our forever home, say expats
Residents or foreigners aged above 55 years can apply for the new retirement visa in Dubai.
Singaporean expat Harsha Varyani, 58, has always wanted to retire in Dubai because of the 'endless opportunities' and high standard of living in the emirate. Now she can, with the new visa scheme announced on Wednesday.
"Thank you, Dubai, for making us feel special and more at home," said Varyani, who has been living in the city for almost a decade.
Residents and foreigners above 55 years old may apply for the five-year retirement visa, launched by the Dubai Tourism and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. The retiree has to have a monthly income of Dh20,000 from investments or pensions; or Dh1 million in savings; or property in Dubai worth Dh2 million.
After spending nearly 17 years in South Africa and some years in Indonesia and Singapore, Varyani said Dubai is the only place she wants to spend her retirement years in.
"There is a lot of respect and opportunities for us women here and there are so many ways in which women can become entrepreneurs and feel encouraged. I opened my Yoga Ashram in Dubai and have made such good friends and made a difference in their lives by offering them healing yoga sessions," Varyani said.
"At this age, this city has given me an opportunity to pursue my passion and make a difference and I couldn't be more happy to stay a bit longer here."
The fact that Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world is also a big plus, she added.
'One of the best gifts for expats'
Indian expatriate Raza Siddiqui, who arrived in the UAE in 1998 with his wife and two daughters, called the retirement visa one of the "best gifts" for the expat community.
"I am grateful to this country for giving me and my family a beautiful life that most can only dream of. There are a lot of people like me who have spent a significant part of their career here and have gotten used to the high quality of life," Siddiqui said.
He added that even after retiring, expats who have spent a considerable time in the country would never 'sit idle'. They will contribute to the development of the nation one way or another, Siddiqui said.
"The UAE has given us a lot and we feel we owe a lot to it. Life doesn't stop here after retirement. This country gives us various avenues to channel our energy and do our bit to give back."
Soel Shams Molla and his wife Atia Molla are both US citizens but they have been Dubai residents for the last 21 years. They, too, have no plans of settling anywhere else other than the emirate.
"Having called Dubai our home since 1999, we think this new retirement visa programme solidifies the UAE as a forever home for many communities. It allows expats to really plan for their future and their families in one of the best cities in the world," they said.
The Mollas, who are originally from Bangladesh but have taken US citizenship, added: "Despite being US citizens, we still want to settle in the UAE for as long as we can because of a number of factors, such as low crime rate, good weather, religious freedom, reliable healthcare, education and transport system, growing economy, and a number of lifestyle and leisure opportunities."
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