Investors, expats eagerly await new government rules on company ownership, 10-year visas

  • Rizvi says overseas investor interest is growing ahead of government regulations; long-term visas will change “come and go” expatriate trend

Overseas investors and expatriates seeking greater security in the UAE are eagerly awaiting clarification of new company ownership and long-term visa rules aimed at giving a major boost to the economy, a legal expert said today.

Plans to introduce an investment law allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership this year, as well as a new 10-year visa for international investors and talented professionals, were announced by the UAE cabinet in May.

“There is a growing interest both from investors around the world and expatriate professionals in many sectors who are anxiously awaiting the government’s draft regulations,” said Zisha Rizvi, Partner at STA Law Firm.

“One thing that is certain is that the new visa rules will change the trend for the UAE’s traditionally transient expatriate population to simply come and go. They’re saying that they will be far more inclined to stay, contribute to the economy on a long-term basis, and invest in property.

“The big questions expatriates are now asking are who will be able to apply for a visa, will the law be restricted to doctors, lawyers and engineers or will it apply to those with other qualifications, and will there be any restrictions based on nationality.”

Said Fatima Al Sakkaf, Associate at STA: “We have been receiving a growing number of investor enquiries in recent weeks ahead of the draft regulations being announced. There is great interest from many parts of the world, not just India, Europe and the US. Enquiries are coming from professionals from many different sectors, including oil and gas, telecom, engineering and healthcare.

“There is definitely a growing momentum. The market sentiments look very positive. The one question most investors ask concerns the value of the property they must own in order to qualify for a 10-year visa.”

Al Sakkaf says a new wave of investor confidence is being built by the country’s long-term vision.

“The UAE is already a lucrative jurisdiction for overseas investors, but the new laws will attract more investment by providing a greater level of social security,” she said.

Over the past three years, Al Sakkaf and Rizvi has established themselves as leading UAE-based expert advisers on corporate law, litigation and real property in the global market.

UAE-based STA Law also has offices in Bahrain, Doha, Delhi, London, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Moscow and Singapore.

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