Long-term residency visas in UAE- Amira Sajwani

The UAE’s decision to introduce long-term residency visas is a smart move for its real estate market

When it comes to encouraging foreign direct investment (FDI), the UAE boasts an impressive track record – especially in terms of real estate.

One of the most commonly cited turning points in our nation’s journey to becoming a global investment hub is the decision taken by Dubai’s leaders in 2002 to allow foreign citizens to purchase property. During the past two decades, our nation’s real estate rules have continued to evolve, becoming increasingly inclusive and attractive to expatriates.

While laws concerning property ownership for expats vary from emirate to emirate (see the UAE Government Portal for further details), most would agree that our country has succeeded in incentivising outside investment. Consequently, we have not only seen meteoric growth in our real estate market and wider economy, but millions of foreign nationals have had the opportunity to put down roots and build lives for their families in the Emirates.

Even so, if there’s one thing we know about the UAE leadership, it’s that they are not content to rest on their laurels. No doubt this is why recent years have seen the introduction of a variety of novel visa options.

Inspiring long-term confidence

While this expanded offering may not have garnered quite as many column inches as Dubai’s 2002 efforts to facilitate foreign investment in property, I expect the long-term effects of the country’s visa-related moves to prove no less impactful for the real estate sector.

Let’s take a moment to consider the range of visa options that are now available. In addition to the traditional two-to-three-year employment visa, would-be residents can now take advantage of the one-year remote work visa; property visas with three, five and 10-year durations; investor and partner visas with three, five and 10-year durations; the five-year retirement visa; the three-to-five year freelance visa; and, of course, the 10-year ‘golden’ visa.

When viewed within the context of mega-developments such as District 2020 – the legacy-focused tranche of Expo 2020 Dubai, which has been designed from the ground up to incentivise long-term commitments and investments – and you are left with an environment that is incredibly conducive to future growth.

Great news for real estate

So, what does this have to do with the UAE’s real estate market? Well, while the property-specific visas are clearly advantageous to those considering investing their money in the UAE, the sheer range of new, future-focused visa options will serve to boost the sector as a whole.

Ultimately, this is a question of consumer confidence, which has been significantly bolstered by our nation’s efforts to deliver greater flexibility and security for those considering relocating. The UAE’s overhauled visa offering has delivered more choice than ever before, and clearly outlines the country’s long-term commitment to expatriate residents.

In my opinion, we are already witnessing the early fruits of this approach, with the UAE’s real estate sector exceeding all expectations in the wake of the global pandemic. While our leaders’ exemplary response to Covid-19 has certainly played a major role in this respect, so too has the range of visa options now available to prospective home buyers.

Those considering investing in UAE properties have never had so many assurances that their long-term residency prospects will be safeguarded.

That’s why I am confident that in years to come, our nation’s decision to introduce outward-looking, forward-thinking visa options will be spoken about in the same breath as Dubai’s historic 2002 policy change.