100% business ownership, 10-year visa to boost FDI, bring more talents

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Abdul Basit

The UAE’s new residency and investment laws will boost foreign direct investment and bring more talents into the country. The UAE cabinet on May 20 approved revolutionary changes to the country’s residency and investment laws. Once new changes implemented investors and specialists such as doctors and engineers will receive UAE residency visas valid for up to 10 years. The families of these categories of expatriates will also receive the same visa validity. Top performing students are also eligible for the 10-year residency visa scheme.

This will further boost the UAE’s position as a primary destination for international investors and top talent from around the world. 999 spotlights the benefits of the newly-adopted policy on residence visas for expats

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the decision after chairing a Cabinet meeting on May 20, 2018.
Taking to Twitter, Sheikh Mohammed said global investors can have 100 per cent ownership of their companies in the country.
“The UAE will remain an incubator for innovators and a hub for investors,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. “Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislations constitute the best plan to attract global investments and exceptional talents. The UAE will remain a land of opportunities. It is the best environment to realise the dreams of humans and unleash their exceptional potentialities.”
Sheikh Mohammed also tweeted that the decision will be enforced by the third quarter of this year.
The system will grant investors and talents up to 10-year residency visas for specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, as well as for all scientists and innovators, entrepreneurs and innovators as well as five-year residency visas for students studying in the UAE, and 10-year visas for exceptional students.
Sheikh Mohammed has directed the bodies concerned to implement the decisions by the end of the year. He has also directed them to review the current residence visa scheme to extend the duration of the visa validity of dependents after they complete their university studies “to ease up their future residence in the UAE”. This will give them the opportunity to study their practical options in the future.
The changes include: residency visas of up to 10 years for key professional workers in the scientific, technology and innovation sectors; residency visas of up to 10 years for foreign investors establishing businesses in the country; allowing companies to own 100% of their business in the UAE outside free trade zones (the current limit is 49%); and five-year student visas, with exceptional university graduates eligible for 10-year visas.
The announcement is positive, highlighting the proactive stance of policy makers towards supporting the UAE’s economic development. Details of these new regulations to be defined in the coming months and to be implemented before year-end.
The breadth and eligibility of the liberalisation criteria will be central to the potential support to the economy. Opening most sectors to 100% foreign ownership would provide a significant medium-term boost to foreign direct investment (FDI), especially given the low tax base, convenient geographic location and high level of infrastructure that the UAE offers. The same would be true regarding eligibility for 10-year visas, though this would greatly depend on the structure of the new scheme, i.e. if visas will be linked to individuals’ employers. A 10-year visa would increase the propensity for expatriates to save in the UAE and buy properties given the outlook for longer-term residency.
If the investment and visa liberalisation is more targeted towards certain sectors, they could be viewed as policies to support the development of those industries.
Abdulla Al Saleh, the undersecretary for foreign trade and industry at the Ministry of the Economy, said that 100% ownership of companies in the UAE will be limited to specific industries deemed essential to the economy regarding elements such as job creation and technology transfer. The type of people that have so far been indicated as being potentially eligible for the 10-year visas are connected to these economic areas – scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators. Boosting the technology and innovation base of the UAE economy has already been highlighted as one of the country’s key development objectives.
Major General Mohammad Al Merri, head of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) praised the Cabinet decision as a business-friendly move, saying: “The order is an important step which confirms that the Government of the United Arab Emirates spares no effort in overcoming obstacles facing investors. It also contributes to enhancing the role of the good government in providing the business climate and environment to positively reflect the economic growth and development in the UAE.”
Essa Kazim, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre and Chairman of DIFC Authority Board of Directors, commented: “The decision …. marks a new phase in the development of the UAE’s success story. Over the past decades, the government has established a strong foundation to catalyse the local economy and build state-of-the-art infrastructure to attract global investors. This has positioned the UAE as an international investment hub and an ideal destination for companies looking to grow, which in turn reflects the country’s growing appeal as a global hub for talent. This new law will contribute to increasing transparency, quality of service, and the adoption of international best practices, while boosting the UAE’s competitiveness on the global stage and cementing its role in shaping the future of investment in the region.”

Expats and business owners in UAE upbeat

Expatriates and businessmen in the UAE welcomed the Cabinet decision and termed it ‘revolutionary and landmark decision.’

Yusuff Ali M.A, chairman and managing director of Lulu Group International, said, “This is a landmark announcement and sure to further boost UAE’s image as the most investor-friendly economy in the region. 100 per cent foreign ownership is a revolutionary step and generates huge interest among global investors. He said that the new long-term visa will go a long way in attracting and retaining not only investors but also top-notch professionals who are very essential in today’s highly competitive world. Salute to the visionary leadership of this great nation.
Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman, Aster DM Healthcare, said that this is the best announcement that we have heard from His Highness recently and is music to the ears of all the residents and prospective investors. This will exponentially increase the flow of talent and capital to UAE, which will become a paradise for entrepreneurs and professionals. May God bless the visionary leaders of the country, which is already an oasis of peace and prosperity.”
Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, said: “This is surely a wonderful news for all the investors. This decision will bring so much more trust and confidence in investors who have invested huge money in the UAE. This step will also give a great boost to the economy of the country and help attract more investment. We are thankful to Shaikh Mohammad for this timely initiative.”
Prasanth Manghat, CEO and Executive Director at NMC Health Plc, said, “The UAE is working towards achieving higher goals in the Global Competitive Index by promoting transparency, improving quality of services and products based on international best practices. This move would get the UAE, one step closer to its aim in making the country a thought bed for incubators and creators and a dream destination for investors.”
Y. Sudhir Kumar Shetty, president UAE Exchange, said: “This is a great news for all of us. This is a step forward in the right direction which will not only boost the confidence of resident investors but also would encourage non-resident investors to look at the UAE market with renewed interest to commit more investments in the future.”
Kamal Vachani, Group Director, Al Maya Group, said, “The 10-year visa is great news as it will give a further boost to investors’ confidence. The UAE has always been at the forefront of taking pragmatic and business-friendly decisions and this is another great example. We are very delighted and excited on the decision. We congratulate His Highness on this investor-friendly decision.” – abdulbasit@theuaenews.com