By John Ikani
The United Arab Emirates on Sunday announced a new class of visas called ‘Green Visas’ which will allow expats to apply for work without being sponsored by an employer
The move comes in a bid to target investors and highly skilled workers as well as students and graduates. The Green Visa holders can sponsor their parents and children up to the age of 25 on their permits. The steps are being taken to attract talent and boost growth.
The UAE government will allow people who lost their jobs to remain in the UAE for up to 6 months which is an incentive as most visas are tied to employment contacts. It has allowed hiring of temporary workers above the age of 15 in a bid to loosen the job market.
Foreign residents form 80% of the population of the UAE and are intrinsic to the economy of the country for the past few decades. Foreign nationals work in the private sector and contribute to the economy by buying property or by shopping in some of the largest malls in the world.
These oil-rich countries have resisted offering permanent residency to foreigners. These governments also did not offer citizenship to millions of foreign workers in order to safeguard generous privileges enjoyed by the citizens of this country.
The gulf-economies started preparing for a post-fossil fuel world following the 2014 oil-price slump by enticing wealthy people to stay. This trend was reinforced during the Covid-19 pandemic as the government took steps to ensure people who lost their jobs could remain. Along with the UAE government, the governments in Saudi Arabia and Qatar took steps to allow some expatriates permanent residency.