The UAE announced a new visa on Sunday that will allow foreigners to work in the country without being sponsored by an employer, relaxing residency requirements in an effort to boost economic growth.
Foreigners in the UAE are typically granted only temporary visas tied to their employment, and long-term residency is difficult to obtain.
Those with the new “green visa” will, however, be able to work without the sponsorship of a company and can sponsor their parents and children up to the age of 25, according to officials.
“It is aimed at highly skilled individuals, investors, business people, entrepreneurs, as well as exceptional students and postgraduates,” said Thani al-Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade. Read: UAE to resume tourist visas for vaccinated travellers
The UAE government will allow people who have lost their jobs to stay in the country for up to six months, which is a welcome relief given that most visas are tied to employment contacts. It has permitted the hiring of temporary workers over the age of 15 in an effort to loosen the labour market.
Gulf countries with abundant natural resources, such as the UAE, are increasingly seeking to diversify their economies and reduce their reliance on oil.
The coronavirus pandemic has also had an impact on tourism and business in the UAE, whose economy has already been suffering as a result of low oil prices in recent years.
The UAE launched the 10-year “Golden visa” scheme in 2019 to attract wealthy individuals and highly skilled workers.
Foreigners make up 90% of the UAE’s 10 million population, the Arab world’s second-largest economy after Saudi Arabia.