Business leaders and prominent personalities across the UAE have praised the country’s new gold card residency scheme as a way to boost the confidence of expatriates and enhance the country’s image compared to other expat hubs.
In a tweet, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said the gold card system would see an initial batch of 6,800 people being granted their new status.
The first batch of investors would hold total investments of AED100 billion ($27 billion), the ruler added
Hamad Buamim, the president and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described the system as a strategic move to position the UAE as a “land of opportunity” for investors from around the world.
“The new residency system will certainly enhance the UAE’s attractiveness and value proposition as a preferred market for expat talent and foreign investors, giving it a major competitive edge against other expat havens,” he said.
“The speed at which these changes were implemented demonstrates the strong commitment and pro-active approach of the UAE’s leadership to improve ease of doing business in the country and pave the way for sustainable growth,” Buamim added.
Dr Habib Al Mulla, the executive chairman of local law firm Baker McKenzie, said that the large number of gold cards that will be granted to investors and entrepreneurs is proof that the UAE was in need of a permanent visa system.
“One needs to see that the large number of applications shows how much the [gold card] system was needed and the gap that it fulfils,” he told Arabian Business. “It’s an important and critical point.”
“Residencies, particularly for certain types of investors, is something that exists in many parts of the world and if we want to be competitive, then yes, we need to be competitive from that aspect as well…the most important part is that this is the first step and the first is always the most difficult,” he added.
Additionally, Dr Al Mulla said that the system is not intended to impact existing investors, but will encourage entrepreneurs to invest in the UAE.
“The implementation [of the gold card] is not mean to impact those who have already invested, because they are already attached to renewable residencies. This legislation intends to target other sectors besides real estate, such as entrepreneurs and skilled people,” he said.
When asked whether the permanent residencies may lead to nationalisation, Dr Al Mulla said “it’s too early to predict,” and that the country has drawn “a red line between residencies and nationalisation.”
A confidence boost
Omar Jackson, partner at the international private equity firm Berkeley Assets, said that the initiative is “perfectly timed” with the UAE increasingly rolling out regulations to make doing business in the country safer and more efficient.
“There is so much opportunity and a lot of wealth here, so in order to be successful, you also have to be outgoing and confident,” he said. “Confidence will bring in business and relationships are more important than anything else.”
Promoth Manghat, the group CEO of Finablr, said that he move is “an acknowledgement to the expatriate community for the role they have played in the growth and progress of the UAE.
“The scheme will play a strong role in attracting talent and FDI, further stimulating entrepreneurship and economic growth,” he saod.
Dr BR Shetty, the founder and chairman of BRS ventures, NMC, Finablr and NeoPharma, said that the move “will go a long way in promoting long term economic growth and development.”
“The program will help the UAE attract and retain the right talent while building an active investor base thus elevating it to a preferred investment and residential destination,” he added.