Foreigners in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years tied to employment. The government in the past couple of years has made its visa policy more flexible, offering longer residencies for certain types of investors, students and professionals.
This month, the UAE expanded eligibility for golden visas to all holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors, as well as other categories such as those with specialised degrees in artificial intelligence and epidemiology.
“The UAE progressively extending golden residency to more and more categories will accelerate economic growth and productivity in Dubai,” the emirate’s department of economic development said on Monday.
“When all stages of granting golden residency to different groups are completed, economic growth rate in Dubai is likely to increase between 0.25% and 1%, driven largely by domestic demand and investment,” it said, citing an internal study.
An oil and gas producer, the UAE’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices, prompting many expatriates to leave.
The International Monetary Fund said in October it expects the UAE economy to contract by 6.6% this year, with Dubai’s real gross domestic product expected to shrink by 9.8%.
Dubai, which does not have the large oil wealth of its neighbour Abu Dhabi to cushion the financial impact of the crisis, expects to post a $3.2 billion deficit this year, a bond prospectus showed in September.
“The changes in the residency system reflect the UAE’s interest in not only attracting creative and talented people, but also in ensuring they remain in the country,” said Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO of the corporate strategic affairs sector at the department of economic development.