When the UAE first announced the Golden Visa program in 2018, the face of the business world in the thriving Gulf nation was to be forever changed. The world’s top elite and brightest minds could now attain long-term residency in the country to gain a greater sense of stability and privilege, while also allowing them to fully own their businesses without the need for a sponsor.
In light of this, international investors, businessmen and talented individuals all flocked to the UAE to be part of the country’s success story.
However, the Gulf nation has also been home to many pioneers and innovators, and for those that had persevered here for years, and in some cases decades, this new law was the blessing they had been waiting for all along.
Kate Midttun, the founder and CEO of Acorn Strategy, a marketing and communications strategy firm based in Abu Dhabi, is one of these long-standing professionals. With over a decade of experience in the emirate, she saw a massive opportunity in the announcement of the Golden Visa.
In fact, she would go on to become the first female entrepreneur to receive the Golden Visa in Abu Dhabi, setting a record while ascending her career to new heights.
The Abu Dhabi SME Hub had the opportunity to speak with Midttun, who talks about her career in Abu Dhabi, as well as applying for and ultimately acquiring the Golden Visa.
How would you describe your professional and personal experience in the UAE?
I arrived in Abu Dhabi over a decade ago as a marketing and communications professional with an interest in the emirate’s global position as a centre for innovation and development. I spent a couple of years working for hotels on Yas Island as a marketing director, which I did really enjoy but felt like it was time for a new challenge. When faced with the prospect of a new role, I didn’t feel inspired by anything I was seeing. Thankfully, a few people had reached out to me asking for support and advice on developing marketing strategies so I started freelancing, without knowing this would soon turn into much more than just a few projects here and there.
Can you tell us more about your expertise and how that led you to start your own company?
After freelancing for a period of time, I decided to actually take the leap and start my own company here in Abu Dhabi. Acorn Strategy is an integrated marketing, public relations and digital consultancy which has grown substantially and made me incredibly proud along the way. Today, over 200 success stories later, I am so grateful for Abu Dhabi’s contribution to the success of my business and am honoured to be the first female investor to receive the Golden Visa.
How to does it feel to have received the Golden Visa, and what does this mean to you?
I am honoured and excited! Receiving the Golden Visa is an incentive for me and my business to pursue further work in the emirate, a place known for growth. The Golden Visa offers a window into a world of new opportunities in the emirate and as one of its earliest recipients, I encourage all business people with great ideas to apply. I can’t wait to see the heights we may all reach in the next few years.
How would you describe the process of applying for and acquiring the Golden Visa?
Very straightforward. I contacted the representative, they kept me up to date regularly and provided feedback throughout. Because of my unique situation with the company infrastructure and ownership, they took all details into consideration and adjusted the application process to accept the idiosyncrasies of my particular situation. They were fair and reasonable, whilst also being adaptable. It’s more than I could have expected given the complexities of the situation.
Did you receive any support from Abu Dhabi government entities or local ecosystem players when launching your company? If not, are you looking for such support?
No, we haven’t received any special support from the Abu Dhabi ecosystem. We started very much independently outside of the supportive infrastructure, but as time has progressed we’ve come closer to the network. We love working in twofour54 and also work closely as a partner to many of the other ecosystem entities.