<p*bs:!macro name="/ads/sizmek-dfp-art-script" cachetime="1440" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-family: proxima_nova_rgregular; font-size: 10px;">
From business community to ordinary people, cutting across nationalities, residents are elated at the UAE Government's announcement of five-year retirement visa for expats aged above 55.
Starting next year, expats in the UAE aged 55 or over will be eligible to secure a five-year retirement visa, if they meet certain requirements, including investing in properties worth at least Dh2 million, or have at least Dh1 million in savings or an active income of more than Dh20,000 monthly.
Reema Shetty, 38, is a second-generation woman entrepreneur. Born and raised in the UAE, the daughter of Indian-born billionaire businessman Dr B. R. Shetty says she is a proud Indian; but for her and her family, the UAE is what they always consider 'home'.
So, when the UAE Cabinet announced on Sunday that expats will be eligible to stay back in the country for a "longer period of time" even after retirement, she and her family "were very happy to hear that news".
"No matter where we do business in the world, our base will always be the UAE. This is where I was born and this is where I shall remain," she told Khaleej Times.
"I am very excited because I don't have to think about a few decades down the line and start planning," said Reema, CEO of The Foodsters Inc. who is also the board member of Dr B.R and C.R Shetty Foundation.
Dr B. R. Shetty, founder and chairman of BRS Ventures, added: "We have families who have made UAE their home for decades. An extension on the stay will positively enhance the multi-cultural appeal of the country. The UAE has once again proven their farsighted and benevolent thinking. We look forward to several more of such positive initiatives," Shetty added.
The initiative is also seen as catalyst in boosting many business sector from real estate and retail to healthcare and related industries.
Yusuffali MA, chairman of Lulu Group, called the retirement visa scheme as "another shining example of visionary leadership's humanitarian initiative".
"The safe and secure environment, world-class healthcare facilities, a very tolerant society, international standard lifestyle options and excellent air-connectivity are some of the biggest reasons why the world loves to come to the UAE," he added.
Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, said: "I am very happy to see various positive measures announced yesterday. There is also a decision by the Cabinet for streamlining the medical services in the country as well as to provide reduced tariff for electricity. I sincerely hope that this tariff reduction shall be extended to the healthcare in view of the strategic importance of the sector."
Raza Siddiqui, group CEO of Arabian Healthcare Group and executive Director of RAK Hospital, said: "I came to Dubai 20 years ago and have seen Dubai grow from one of the places in the Middle East to one of the best cities in the world to live. This gesture is really reassuring to all the expats. Now we may be able to plan for an extended period."
For Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, CEO of MAG Lifestyle Development, "the recent initiative will maintain the country's position as a leading investment destination, attracting a new wave of investors seeking safe and transparent markets to invest in".
But it is not just businessmen who are applauding the move. Sulaiman Al Mahi, a Sudanese resident in Ras Al Khaimah, said: "This decision is so timely for me and many of my friends, who wish to remain in the country, after reaching retirement."
Adnan Ukasha, a Jordanian resident based in Ras Al Khaimah, said he wanted the new scheme to cover people from the age of 50. "I also wish to have a permanent residence as is the case in European countries, though."
Raj Khaneja, CEO of Rectangle Interiors, said: I feel proud of these new regulations, which will position the UAE as a leading destination to work, live in and invest. Moreover, this will help in diversifying the economy and attract more investors and would consolidate the UAE's global position.
The move was the latest in a series of visa rule changes. In May this year, it was announced that investors and specialists such as doctors and engineers, including their families, will receive UAE residency visas valid for up to 10 years. Top performing students are also eligible for the 10-year visa scheme.
Know the thriving retiree sector
Many countries have tapped the retirees sector as a viable market. They have rolled out discounts and tax breaks as some of the perks and benefits for those who qualify. With the introduction of the five-year retirement visa scheme, the UAE will soon join the bandwagon of nations offering flexible retiree visa plans.
Barney Almazar, 36, director of corporate commercial department at Gulf Law Middle East, said: "Retirees visa, however, is not new. In the Philippines, there is a special resident retiree visa programme, where a foreigner, who is at least 35 years old, can retire and live indefinitely in the Philippines. The minimum investment is $20,000 and in certain instances, the retiree may use the deposit to acquire a property in the Philippines.
In addition to tax privileges, the retiree can also sponsor his family to reside in the country. We have assisted a couple of European expats in the UAE to secure retirees visa in the Philippines. For the UAE, the reform in residency rules will make the country more competitive."
Malaysia has a programme called 'Malaysia My Second Home' and minimum monthly income requirement for retirees, who seek to stay in the Asian country, is 10,000 ringgits (around $3,125) plus other minimum investment.
Neighbouring Thailand has a minimum monthly income requirement of 65,000 Thai baht ($2,100) and there is no additional income requirement for each dependent. Pleasant weather, great medical facilities, and low cost of living are just some of the attractions Thailand is offering, including a 10-year Thai retirement visa.
>Some less expensive places
Belize, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia and Panama also offer retiree residency programmes called pensionado visas. These are all similar but vary in the minimum monthly incomes required to qualify, as well as the particulars of the tax and other discounts.
In Ecuador, the minimum monthly income requirement is just $800 and additional income requirement for each dependent is pegged at $100.
Ranking will improve, says expert
Dubai and Abu Dhabi could soon join London, New York and Hong Kong in the world's top 10 global financial centre rankings because of the reforms in the residency laws, according to a top financial advisor.
Nigel Green, the founder and CEO of deVere Group, said: "Dubai and Abu Dhabi are popular destinations for ambitious expatriates looking to embark upon or further their careers because of the incredible possibilities offered in terms of finance, trade and commerce, plus the famous 'can do' attitude and the low tax environment.
"But they will become even more attractive locations for overseas talent thanks to the government passing these new laws that allow expats to stay on in the UAE long after they retire," he added.