The United Arab Emirates has unveiled two new policies aimed at strengthening the economy by encouraging local employment while attracting and retaining wealthy expatriates.

  • Emiratization pilot program. An updated professional classification list known as ‘Emirati Professional Classification’ that categorizes 3,000 professions based on qualifications and skill levels is being piloted in Umm Al-Qaiwain before it will be adopted in all emirates. The list contains private-sector professions that will be subject to Emiratization and is intended to improve local employment in targeted professions and boost economic productivity.
  • Five-year residency for wealthy expats. In 2019, a new law is expected to allow expatriates over 55 years old to obtain five-year residency with the possibility of renewal if they either own property worth 2 million dirham (about US$545,000), have savings of 1 million dirham or earn an income of 20,000 dirham per month. This will be a non-employment-based visa and could be a good option for expats working in mainland companies, as foreign employees over 65 are normally restricted to one-year work and residency visas (free zones typically allow three-year visas for workers over 65).

Analysis & Comments: The changes come among a raft of reforms aimed at spurring economic growth during the current slump. The Emiratization pilot program will provide private-sector job opportunities for locals, especially the UAE’s growing youth population, as public-sector opportunities are currently limited. The longer-validity residency for older expatriates may enable mainland companies to attract foreigners who contribute to the economy.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.