The UAE cabinet has begun the implementation of 100% foreign ownership and 10-year residency visas for expats, investors and entrepreneurs.
While the full ownership of companies based in the UAE is currently limited to free zones, the new law is expected to attract foreign investors looking to set up or acquire local companies in the Gulf country.
This year will also see the introduction of new long-term visas of up to 10 years granted for investors, entrepreneurs and specialists working in fields of medicine, science or research.
Investors will be eligible for a five or 10-year residency visa depending on the size of their investment in the UAE. The investor's spouse, children, one executive director and one adviser will also be able to obtain long-term visas.
It defines two categories for investors. The first being investors with a property worth AED5m (£1.07m) or more. In these cases, a residence visa will be granted for five years.
The second category allows for a renewable residency visa every 10 years, for public investments through a deposit, an established company, business partnership of AED10m or more, or a total investment of not less than AED10m, provided real estate investments are less than 60% of the total investment.
Entrepreneurs with a former business worth a minimum of $136,000 (AED500,000), or those boasting the approval of an accredited business incubator in the UAE, will be given a five-year visa. They will also be able to upgrade to an investor visa subject to certain conditions.
An entrepreneur's business partners, three executive directors, spouse and children will also be granted visas under the scheme.
Outstanding students will also be eligible for a long-term visa as part of the changes, in order to encourage them to settle in the UAE following the completion of their education. Those with an average of at least 95% in school and a grade point average of at least 3.75 on graduation from universities in the UAE and abroad will qualify for a five-year visa for themselves and their families.
Researchers working in the disciplines of science and knowledge, as well as doctors, specialists, scientists and inventors will be granted ten-year visas, along with those working in the fields of culture and art.
Again, spouses and children will also be included under the visa for researchers, scientists and doctors.
Expats aged 55 or above can also remain in the UAE following retirement once they secure a five-year retirement visa that meets certain criteria including the ownership of property worth at least $545,000 (AED2 million). Other conditions including the ownership of at least $272,260 (AED1m) in savings or an active income of over $5,445 (AED20,000) per month, as reported by International Investment.