Earlier last month, the U.A.E cabinet announced the introduction of several longer-term residency options (5 and 10 year residency) for specialized talents, investors (real estate and otherwise) entrepreneurs and outstanding students (Gulf News). The cherry on top came with the announcement of the new Golden Card program. Like many economic citizenships offered across Europe and the Caribbean, this Golden Card system will offer a selected group of people permanent residency (not citizenship) in exchange for an outstanding investment and contribution to the U.A.E economy. In Sheikh Mohammed’s words, “the Golden Card is our way to welcome all those seeking to be a part of the UAE’s success story and making it a second home. “The Golden Card scheme that has already promised 6800 golden cards is part of a grander national scheme to revive foreign investment in the 7 emirates through various incentives. These applicants alone are worth an estimated Dh 100 billion.

For one, there is hope that the U.A.E property market will greatly benefit, as it is likely that the Golden Card scheme will soak up some of the excess supply and revive the U.A.E property market’s dynamism, the same dynamism that hasn’t really found its way back in the last couple of years. There is also hope that residents begin to see the U.A.E as a country they are more inclined to be emotionally and economically invested in as opposed to one they resort to in a transition period and subsequently return to their home countries to invest in.

Although the exact criteria for Gold Card applicants hasn’t yet been divulged, we do know that several entrepreneurs, artistic contributors, scientists doctors and engineers have already had the pleasure of receiving the Golden Card. Amongst them (Arabian Business):

  • Shamsheer Vayalil Chairman and Managing Director of VPS healthcare and Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Amanat Holdings
  • MA Yousuf Ali Chairman and Managing Director of the Lulu Group,
  • Azad Moopen Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare
  • B.R. Shetty founder & Chairman of NME Healthcare
  • Reza Khan Dubai Wildlife Specialist
  • Paul Macnamara consultant orthopedic surgeon Medcare orthopedic & spine hospital
  • Ramesh Shukla Veteran Indian Photographer
  • Chawqui Derradji CEO, Siadah Development have already had the pleasure of receiving them and that this permanent residency will also be extended to their spouses and children.
  • Sunny Varkey founder & Chairman GEMS Education
  • Kamal Vachani Group Director Al Maya

To compliment the long-term and permanent residency programs, there is also talk of other programs directed towards the retiring expat population of the U.A.E. potential investment funds for the retirement benefits of U.A.E expats, including but not limited to enhanced gratuity schemes, private sector savings programs, and several other end-of service benefits. One thing is clear, as Expo 2020 lurks in the horizon, the U.A.E has no intention of slowing down and things have already gotten interesting.