UAE allows 100% foreign ownership of businesses; key workers get 10-year visas

Changes to UAE residency regulations to positively impact real estate sector – experts say

Changes to UAE residency regulations to positively impact real estate sector – experts say

The upcoming changes to the UAE’s residency regulations could have a positive impact on the country’s real estate sector, with experts predicting that demand for property could become more stable and sustainable.

The UAE Cabinet has announced that sweeping changes to its residency system will be made, with key workers offered visas of up to 10 years, so as to attract sought-after professionals. These include doctors and engineers, who – along with their families – will be available for long-stay visas. Specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields will also be eligible.

Students will also be able to secure five-year visas, while exceptional graduates could remain in the country for 10 years. The current rules state that students must apply to renew their visas every year.

Other major changes include allowing investors to own 100% of a company based in the Emirates. At present, companies are required to have a local partner who owns a 51% stake in the business. Only those based in free zones can be 100% foreign-owned.

The changes were outlined in a Cabinet meeting chaired by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai.

“The UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors,” he said, adding that an ‘open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents to the UAE’.

Government departments have been told to work on implementing the changes by the end of this year.

Speaking to, Faisal Durrani, Partner and Head of Research at Cluttons commented that the landmark announcement is the clearest indication yet of the UAE government’s commitment to delivering an economic future that relies on human capital, rather than oil.

“Longevity of residence for expats is going to be a game changer as the population’s historically transient nature gives way to semi permanency,” he said in an emailed statement.

“The move will clearly go some way to stemming the loss of human talent from the UAE and will also contribute to more stable and sustainable demand for residential and commercial property from domestic buyers. This privileged group of expats will undoubtedly feel a greater sense of belonging, which will facilitate the emergence of stronger and deeper communities.”

In addition, Nakheel’s chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah released a statement that said that the developer welcomed the changes.

“We welcome the changes to residency visa regulations, which will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the UAE economy – and in particular the real estate sector,” he said.

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