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The low tax, and often no-tax regime in the UAE has ensured that it’s always a popular destination for expats who want to accumulate as much extra capital as they can while working abroad. The latest changes to the UAE’s new visa rules have created positive speculation that the number of professional expats living and working in the United Arab Emirates will sharply increase over the next few years.

Sweeping new changes for expats in the UAE

The UAE has announced massive reforms that will allow 100 percent foreign ownership in companies and long-term residence visas for skilled and creative expats. These new rules are designed to entrench the UAE’s position as a top destination for leading global talent and international investors.

 

10-year visas will be granted

Under a new category of visas, 10-year residency visas will be offered to investors and specialists with skills in the medical, technical and research fields – and this includes all scientists and innovators. The new long-term visa will cover all the family members of the eligible person. The listed professional categories will not have to invest anything to qualify for the 10-year visa, unless they are applying as investors.

 

New visas for students

Under the new rules, students will be granted five-year residency visas if they are studying in the UAE. A review has also been proposed to include extending the residency permits of students who are sponsored by their parents after their university studies. This will assist students in finding possible employment in the UAE. Under the current rules, students have to renew their visa every year. There has also been provision made to offer 10-year visas to exceptional students – although the details regarding who would qualify as an “exceptional student” have not yet been released.

100 percent foreign investment

Under the new rules, foreign companies will be able to own 100 percent of their business in the UAE outside free zones. This is a major change from the current rules that require a foreign business owner to have an Emirati partner with a majority stake. Under current rules, only companies based in the free zones around the UAE were eligible for 100 percent ownership. In addition, as mentioned, foreign investors establishing a business in the UAE or simply investing in the UAE will also be eligible for a visa of up to 10 years. It is expected that city-based traders, knowledge economy companies and startups will all thrive as a result of the new laws. In addition, new capital will flow into the UAE economy from investors overseas.

 

A global incubator for exceptional talent

These new rules are all part of the UAE’s leadership’s focus to attract top international investments as well as exceptional talent into the country in order to build a solid foundation for a diversified knowledge economy. In the words of Shaikh Mohammad, the UAE “will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents to the UAE”.

If you are a South African living in the UAE and would like to know more about how you can maximise your finances through financial emigration, accessing your South African retirement annuity and our tailor-made tax solutions for South Africans around the world, contact FinGlobal today.