Real estate experts expect many expats to remain in Dubai as they come close to the end of their careers since high house prices in Britain could make it “difficult” for them to return home.
The UAE cabinet approved a ground-breaking law to provide special residency-visa privileges for expats retirees over the age of 55 years for a period of five years, with the possibility of renewal, depending on specific conditions.
Hugo Thistlethwayte, London-based head of international sales at property firm Savills, told local media outlet Arabian Business: “This will be extremely helpful, particularly for British expats who are coming to the end of careers spent in the Middle East or Far East.”
Thistlethwayte said that for those who have not retained a home in the UK, high house prices could make it “difficult” for them to return to their home base.
The international sales head added: “Many will look for an alternative that allows them to continue to enjoy the lifestyle they have enjoyed throughout their careers.
“Dubai would be a good choice destination and we expect the visa extension to add to its appeal.”
Irish-born Nikki, 45, said she has lived in Dubai for nine years and now ran a health and beauty firm. She sees the UAE as her home, and would like to remain after finishing work.
“I only had this conversation with a friend yesterday, before the news came out,” she says. “I messaged her last night to say we can buy the rocking chairs now,” she told The National.
The UAE remains a huge draw for thousands of residents due to its combination of great weather, tax incentives, and lifestyle choices.
The system includes a five-year renewable visa for pensioners over the age of 55. In order to apply, the retiree must own a real estate investment worth Dhs2 million ($544,510), have financial savings of more than Dhs1 million ($272,255) or proof of income of more than Dhs20,000 ($5,445) a month, according to state-run WAM news agency.
Under UAE law, all expats must also hold a valid health insurance policy. Should an individual choose to call the emirates home following retirement, no national benefits are provided by the government.
Applications for the visa scheme are set to start next year.