Since the tail-end of the pandemic, the UAE has remained mostly open and connected by adopting effective testing - quarantine measures complemented by a high vaccination rate. People—leisure or business travellers—continue to flock to the emirates, booking their UAE flights and hotels through reputable online portals such as Wego.
This high level of trust goes both ways and has enabled the UAE to keep its service and innovation-oriented economy alive. It also allows investment opportunities in fields such as education, hospitality, and e-commerce to remain viable.
The UAE government’s calculated approach to economic recovery highlights its commitment to seamlessly transition into a post-pandemic socio-economic landscape and demonstrates the importance of key decision-making encompassing various sectors. Some of these crucial regulatory changes are as follows.
Reflecting upon the severe impact of the pandemic on its travel and tourism industry, the UAE government quickly established its federal tourism council in 2021 to provide support and initiatives to strengthen the demand for tourism.
The council introduced a series of initiatives including launching financial incentives packages, exemption from prescribed local tax, as well as waiving certain tourism license fees and fines for hotels, resorts and tourism activities within specific time frames.
Additionally, heightened safety and hygiene regulations in hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other establishments across the UAE were also put in place to ensure the UAE’s utmost commitment to the health and safety of both staff and guests, as well as public health in general.
These health and safety measures remain in effect and serve as a standard to be implemented by all establishments throughout the UAE.
100 percent foreign shareholding
Even before the onset of the pandemic, the UAE had realised the importance of economic diversification and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as key factors in moving away from an oil-based dependent economy.
While the UAE has always been accommodating to businesses looking to set up shop in the country, the relatively recent announcement of 100 percent foreign shareholding in specific sectors have presented both foreign and local investors with a strong incentive to go ahead with their investment plans.
This welcome amendment to the Commercial Companies Law further solidifies the UAE’s position as a global hub for FDIs and provides a much-needed boon for the economy.
Better access to financial markets
In November 2020, the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) announced the issuance of new rules and regulations concerning free zone companies in the UAE. The amendment essentially permits free zone companies to engage in public offerings and list their shares onshore on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and the Dubai Financial Market (DFM).
With a significant amount of free zone companies being SMEs, this development is deemed crucial since going public enables them to access the capital needed for growth, increased visibility, and liquidity, as well as allowing for transparency and efficiency.
Ease of business through visa and residency schemes
In order to attract and retain expatriate talents as well as to stabilise the workforce, the UAE government introduced the Golden Visa residency scheme.
Essentially, the Golden Visa allows holders a plethora of benefits and incentives to entice expatriates to commit to a long-term arrangement in the UAE. Some of the initial benefits of the Golden Visa are as follows:
- a long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 10 years, without the need of a sponsor
- ability to stay outside of the UAE for any amount of time without having their visa nullified
- sponsoring their family members, including spouses and children regardless of their ages
- 100 percent ownership of their business within the UAE
Furthermore, the relevant authorities have announced their decision to expand and simplify the Golden Visa’s category of beneficiaries set to be implemented in the near future.
Apart from the Golden Visa, the UAE also offers the Green residence scheme: a 5-year residency scheme that may serve as an alternative for investors, partners and entrepreneurs.
Another option is the Business Entry Visa for investors and entrepreneurs. This entry scheme facilitates those looking to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE. The visa features easy entry processes without the requirement of a sponsor or host.
The Business Entry Visa along with the planned expansion to the Golden Visa are set to be implemented in September 2022.
Attracting talents and professionals
In order to attract and retain expatriate talents as well as to stabilise the workforce, the UAE is providing incentives and benefits specifically aimed to attract talents and skilled professionals as well as freelancers from around the world.
For example, long-term residency schemes are available in the form of the aforementioned Golden and Green visas. Among the listed benefits for employees is the ability to purchase properties and sponsor their family members which may encourage employees to consider making the UAE their permanent home. This sense of permanency will serve as an incentive for both employees and companies to establish long-term arrangements for mutual growth.
The Green visa option also caters to freelancers by offering a five-year residency to those who qualify.
Finally, to alleviate the concerns and reservations a young professional may have, the UAE government introduced the Job Exploration entry visa. This visa will allow anyone looking to test the waters to easily enter the UAE and explore available job opportunities without the requirement of a sponsor or host.
The flexibility of movement and attractive perks in the policies come together to turn the UAE into a hothouse of bright minds and one of the world’s leading global talent hubs.
A better tomorrow
The past two years have demonstrated the UAE’s commitment to a greener, more inclusive and more resilient future where businesses, foreign investments, and tourism may once again thrive. Through a series of integrated policies and regulations, the UAE continues its bid for sustainable development in a global post-pandemic economic recovery.