New website for golden visa: how UAE is driving growth through long-term residency permit

The earliest instances of the issuance of a ‘golden visa’ date back to the 80s, when a few Caribbean nations, in a bid to attract foreign investments, formulated cash-for-passport programs. These initiatives opened new avenues for global high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who, seeking more favourable tax regimes than in their countries of origin, could now channel their wealth to greener pastures and avail a lifelong ticket to some of the most aesthetically pleasing locations in the world. This practice snowballed into an economic routine, becoming mainstream with leading economies like the US and the UK also offering residency visas in exchange for investments.

At things stand, over 25% of all countries have visa programs that mirror the earliest form of golden visas that originated from the Caribbean. It is worth noting that no two golden visa programs are exactly alike, with many variations in terms of investment cap, perks offered and the primary objective. The UAE, for its part, also offers distinct golden visa plans aimed at enticing foreign investments, the global talent pool and entrepreneurs. A newly launched website is now reinforcing the country’s existing business golden visa plan, by demystifying the process and criteria involved. As a testament to the UAE’s objective behind the introduction of a long-term residency plan for entrepreneurs, the homepage reads, ‘make UAE your new home for innovation’, against a carousel that depicts—through evocative pictures—the quality of life, infrastructure and entrepreneurial ecosystem being offered (1).

Golden visa website

The business visa available for entrepreneurs is part of the larger golden visa plans devised by the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. Through the introduction of a business visa solely for entrepreneurs, the UAE aims to grant aspiring innovators a top-notch startup ecosystem and an opportunity to secure a future for themselves and their loved ones. The website further elaborates the criteria to be met to become eligible for the visa, besides addressing FAQs. As per the details, the applicant receives an introductory multi-entry visa for six months to complete the application process and gain a hands-on assessment of the feasibility of the planned venture.

Once the applicant puts their business plan to action, the temporary visa can be converted into a residency permit, which is subject to specific conditions. AREA 2071 in Dubai and HUB71 in Abu Dhabi will serve as the authorized incubators throughout the application process. Once their business has been successfully established, the visa holder not only has a long-term residency permit, but also attains the right to nominate up to three key figures in the business for residency permits. Policy makers believe the business visa plan embodies the UAE’s entrepreneurial spirit and echoes the countries rise to the status of a modern nation from its humble beginnings. The UAE aspires to proceed on the same entrepreneurial trajectory, and continue as a beacon of hope and innovation, by opening its doors to a new generation of innovators.

The Inter-sectoral impact

Golden visa plans, or any immigrant investor programs for that matter, often include an emphasis on tourism, talent recruitment and the real estate industry. The UAE government unveiled a five-year visa plan for meritorious school and university students, in a bid to attract top talents from across multicultural backgrounds. Concurrently, multiple tourist visa plans have been formulated to sustain the momentum and further reinforce Dubai’s position as a global tourism hub. The latest development on the tourism front is the introduction of a 5-year multi-entry tourist visa for visitors of all nationalities, announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed through his official Twitter account (2).

One of the greatest beneficiaries of the UAE’s golden visa is the regional real estate industry. More often than not, when a visa plan mandates an investment of some magnitude, real estate is the most preferred option. The ten and five-year visa plans have an investment prerequisite of AED 10 and 5 million, respectively. Although these long-term visa plans allow investments in the form of deposits and company shares, investors are known to favour property purchases over other options, mostly due to Dubai’s preeminence as a sought after real estate destination.

The UAE boasts of the distinction of being one of the few leading economies offering visa plans for entrepreneurs and property investors. Taking into consideration the current turbulent geopolitical climate, trade standoffs and civil unrest in the developing world, the search for an investment safe haven with robust legal framework and entrepreneurial disposition could lead aspiring innovators and who’s who of the global wealth pool to turn towards the UAE.

Innovation as the cornerstone

Innovation has proved to be the key differentiator between diversified, knowledge-based economies and traditional, single-peaked, non-diversified ones. The UAE’s transformation from an oil-centric economy to a diversified global brand was driven by technological advancement and constant innovation. Policy makers are betting on innovation to cement the UAE’s position in the global competitiveness map. To that end, luring budding entrepreneurs with the promise of rewarding and fulfilling lives, and supplementing the initiative with a digital application process, is as timely as it is consequential.


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