U.A.E. to Allow Expats Long-Term Residency After Retirement

The United Arab Emirates will allow foreigners to obtain long-term residency visas after they retire, in a major policy shift as the government of the seven-state federation looks to bolster economic growth.

The new law, which goes into effect in 2019, includes the following provisions, according to the state-run WAM news agency:

  • The extended residency visas would apply to retirees over the age of 55 and run for a period of five years, with the possibility of renewal
  • Qualifications include having an investment in a property worth 2 million dirhams ($544,500), or savings of no less than 1 million dirhams or an active income of no less than 20,000 dirhams/month

Once implemented, the move would mark a major step for a member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council that typically doesn’t allow expatriate workers to stay beyond the period of their work permit.

“That’s quite good — it will give people more reasons to stay in the U.A.E.,” Mohammed Abu-Basha, an economist at Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes, said. “It would be great if complemented with some ways for expats willing to stay to manage their savings and pensions.”

The U.A.E. also decided to cut electricity fees for industries starting in the fourth quarter. Electricity consumption costs for large factories will be slashed by 29 percent, while the small and medium factories will have fees reduced fees by 10 percent to 22 percent. Service connection fees for new factories will be waived.

“Improving the competitiveness of our country is a journey that has no finish line,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the U.A.E. vice president, and prime minister, and ruler of Dubai.

Earlier this month, Qatar made permanent residency an option for a limited number of foreigners — a step that would grant them access to a generous welfare system and commercial rights previously reserved for citizens of the gas-rich nation.

— With assistance by Zainab Fattah

(Recasts and updates with additional details, analyst quote.)

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