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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

New sponsorship rules will create a dynamic nation

Plans to extend family privileges will alter thousands of lives and prepare for the future

The rules for family sponsorship are set to change. Andrew Parsons/The National
The rules for family sponsorship are set to change. Andrew Parsons/The National

Relocating to work in a foreign country can be daunting for anyone – and doing so alone is particularly challenging. In the UAE, residency rules have meant that the families of some well-paid skilled workers have not qualified for ­sponsorship. This could now be about to change. On Sunday, the Cabinet announced that foreign workers – including those who are not managers or degree holders – will be allowed to sponsor family members, based on income, rather than ­profession or job title. In reality, those who have the means to support their dependants in the UAE should be permitted to do so. This is an important step, which will have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of people. A wide variety of skilled foreign workers make a huge contribution to the country. Now they will not have to do so on their own.

The benefits of this plan are not just personal, but society-wide. It will, of course, improve the quality of life of skilled individuals who come to the UAE to work and build a future for themselves, and will make them more likely to develop longer term plans. Talent retention will be vital as the nation diversifies its ­economy and embraces a post-oil future. As the Cabinet said, this change is aimed at “enhancing family stability of foreign workers and social cohesion”. It will also bring many ­well-educated spouses, who could deploy their skills and expertise here, to the benefit of the country’s companies and institutions. And of course, sponsored families will spend money in the local economy, rather than sending it home in the form of remittances.

At a more basic level, these new residency rules are fairer and more pragmatic in a rapidly transforming job market. They will, for instance, benefit those working in the UAE’s tech start-up sector. As the economy develops and shifts – and the world of work with it – titles and ranks will lose significance. With these advances, the Cabinet is working towards establishing a level playing field. The UAE’s success has been built on its dynamism and readiness to bring about necessary change. Changing sponsorship rules for foreign workers is the latest illustration of that winning mentality.

Updated: April 1, 2019 06:39 PM

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