UAE Golden Visa: Expats now stay 3 times longer in Dubai

Global recruitment firm Robert Half says Dubai expat tenures increases from 3 years to around 8-10 years

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sat 6 Nov 2021, 9:20 AM

Dubai’s attractiveness among expatriates has grown substantially as the emirate has become a long-term destination, with expats tending to stay three times longer now.

Specialist recruiter Robert Half said in its latest study that expat tenures have increased from three years to around 8-10 years as the emirate continues to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurial talent, thanks to new laws and initiatives designed to benefit foreigners.

In order to attract, the UAE has announced a number of reforms, including five and 10-year golden visas, 100 per cent foreign ownership in mainland companies, short-term and freelance visas, relaxation of visas to divorced women and students above the age of 15 who want to work among others.

The UAE has granted Golden Visa to thousands of expats, including businessmen, high net worth individuals, celebrities, sportsmen, and professionals. This week, the UAE leaders have also announced Golden Visa for the frontline heroes and their families.


Thanks to these new laws and initiatives designed to benefit foreigners, Dubai is attracting skilled workers and entrepreneurial talent, especially after successfully tackling the Covid-19 pandemic by the government.

“Dubai continues to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurial talent thanks to foreigner-friendly initiatives like 100 per cent foreign ownership – and some professionals are even being offered a UAE passport, which is one of the best in the world for mobility. However, businesses still need to make working conditions desirable with additional benefits, flexible working and competitive remuneration,” said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director for the Middle East at Robert Half.

War for talent heats up

The 2022 Salary Guide by Robert Half noted that businesses are hiring into vacant roles after drastically reducing headcount at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

“Leaner business structures and newly-digitised environments drive demand for skilled candidates who can occupy hybrid roles with wider remits. Qualified expat talent with in-demand skills has been running short as workers struggle to re-enter the country, creating a gap between supply and demand while qualified candidates consistently receive multiple offers from potential employers,” the study said.

Salaries steady but…

According to Robert Half’s study, businesses across UAE are boosting their hiring efforts, but the raging war for talent across the globe means that senior leaders need to reconsider salary and benefits offers to compete.

Estimates based on the analysis of salaries for over 150 roles revealed that the average salary increase for professional services roles in the UAE is currently four per cent, in line with the nascent economic recovery. The most significant increases are in the legal sector, followed by finance and accounting, and technology.

Despite these pay increases, the UAE is still lagging in the global war for talent. Across Europe and Australia, both vital sources of expat talent, the average pay increase is 11 per cent – raising concerns about the region’s area to compete, Robert Half said.

“While salaries across the UAE remain stagnant, businesses are adding to their benefits to retain and attract staff. Many local businesses are keen to get back to the office, but with candidates demanding flexible working they may lose out on the best talent to multi-nationals,” added El Mettouri.

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