Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

UAE's top business leaders react to new permanent residency visa

The first 6,800 recipients have been selected

Founder and co-chairman of Finablr, BR Shetty. He is also founder of the NMC Healthcare. Ravindranath K / The National
Founder and co-chairman of Finablr, BR Shetty. He is also founder of the NMC Healthcare. Ravindranath K / The National

A new permanent residency programme that will allow people to live in the UAE for life has whipped up a storm of interest in the past 24 hours.

Named the "golden card", the programme was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on Tuesday.

Top business leaders from across the Emirates said the move will give investors greater confidence to settle in the country.

They also believe it will create greater demand for buying property, boosting a sluggish property market in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The government wants to attract high-tech companies, research and development and financial technology start-ups in particular.

The first 6,800 people have been selected for long-term status under the first batch. It is expected that more will follow.

Here's how the business community has reacted:

BR Shetty, founder of the NMC Healthcare and Finablr:

“This country nourished, encouraged me and treated me as a local so I was able to build my businesses. I am prepared to give my last drop of blood for this country - that is how grateful I am.

"This is a Ramadan blessing, a golden gift to all those who have contributed positively in developing this great country,” said Mr Shetty, who arrived in the UAE from southern India in 1973 to work as a salesman to repay a loan for his sister’s wedding.

“I am one of the beneficiaries of this country’s benevolence. I came here penniless 46 years ago on borrowed money and now I have two companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.

BR Shetty, founder and chairman of NMC Health. The company has $2bn at its disposal to acquire companies as and when it requires. Victor Besa/The National
BR Shetty, founder of NMC Healthcare and Finablr. Victor Besa / The National

“This has always been a land of opportunity. I’m happy here and committed forever to this country.

"It is not just about a long-term visa but people who have lived here for a long time are interested in contributing to its success. This will make business people give the country a big boost."

Osama Al Rahma, chief executive of Al Fardan Exchange:

"The UAE has always attracted people who are looking to build their future and want a great quality of life for their loved ones. The permanent residency scheme will be very encouraging for the expat community in the country and will reinforce their confidence in the country’s governance and booming economy.

"The announcement is great news for investors in the UAE, especially those who have been here for a long time, as they are now able to benefit from greater security and stability for their future. Investors will be able to plan long-term strategies for their businesses and invest more in existing businesses, thus allowing capital to remain within the UAE.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Osama Al Rahma, FERG Vice Chairman at Anti-Money Laundering and Operations Heads Meet 19 at Steigenberger Hotel. Leslie Pableo for The National for Hada El Sawy's story
Osama Al Rahma speaks at an anti-money laundering summit in Dubai. Leslie Pableo for The National

"The benefits of this scheme will extend to the country as a whole. Aligned with the Government's strategy towards a sustainable economy, maintaining capital within the country will strengthen the UAE's economy.

"A higher purchasing power will also lead to a higher spend in retail, medical and other industries, thus contributing to the realisation of a healthier, more diversified and more stable economy."

Atif Rahman, director of Danube Properties:

“This initiative will change the economic landscape of the country and will have a profound impact in the UAE's economy as a game changer. It will also help creating new jobs in the real estate industry and overall.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - December 11, 2018: Atif Rahman has been with Danube for five years and is credited with its growth. It is one of the top five property developers in Dubai. He will talk shopping sprees and creating affordable luxury. Tuesday the 11th of December 2018 at Danube Properties Head Office, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Real estate leaders like Atif Rahman believe more people will buy property if their residency is guaranteed. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“We are blessed with visionary leadership who continuously thrive to create economic opportunities for all of us and I am really happy to know the latest announcement. This is a new beginning and will help us grow in the UAE.”

Lewis Allsopp, chief executive of Allsopp & Allsopp:

"Over the past few years, we have seen continual steps to enhance the property market and to add longevity to the UAE with five-year retirement visas, long-term visas and 10-year visas," Mr Allsopp said.

“The golden card will further the stability of the UAE by encouraging more distinguished professionals to come to the country.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 10, 2018. Lewis Allsopp, Group CEO of Allsopp & Allsopp. (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) Reporter: Section: BZ
Lewis Allsopp said long-term visas would deliver a boost to the country's slowing real estate market. Reem Mohammed / The National

"The property market will benefit hugely from this step in strengthening the economy.

“Most expats have a moneymaking mindset when they move to Dubai, with a short-term plan and goal before moving back to their home country.

"The UAE Cabinet’s decision to enforce a golden card for permanent residency now allows expats to look at Dubai as a home, rather than a temporary plan.”

Surender Kandhari, industrialist and chairman of the Al Dobowi Group:

"It’s an encouragement to invest more in the country and to also give back even more by way of corporate social responsibility work.

"This is a great initiative for investors who have been here long-term. It’s like some sort of security to remain.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 25 March 2019. POAN Surender Kandhari, Founder of the Gurdwara in Jebel Ali. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Ramola Talwar. Section: National.
Surender Kandhari predicted the wealthy would invest more in social activities if they have lifelong residency. Antonie Robertson / The National

"Our social activities will only increase when we know we will live here permanently.

"We already look after less-fortunate people and we will serve the larger community even more if we live here permanently."

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder of Burjeel hospitals operator VPS Healthcare:

“It brings a lot of responsibility to people like us who will need to do even more to make sure that this was a right decision. This will change the whole mood and was much required.

“This will definitely be a boost for further investment. It is a step in the right direction.

"The UAE has always been a centre point for business. Dubai has been the gateway and this will make it even better.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare, has called on governments and charities to work more closely together to help those in need during emergency situations. Delores Johnson / The National
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare, said lifelong visas could change the UAE. Delores Johnson / The National

"People are stationed in Dubai and by anchoring here they look after the whole region. Now, global companies will have even more of an advantage in attracting talent here.

“It is a change in feeling for us from within because you feel you are regarded and respected. This is an acceptance of the fact that we are doing something for this country.

“It means a lot. There is something that has changed within us with this [announcement]. It’s a fresh feeling inside when you hear Sheikh Mohammed say that residents are considered brothers and part of a great family.”

Updated: May 22, 2019 01:05 PM