Complex Made Simple

New UAE visa regulations bring shift in how expats live and work

The major changes to rules around UAE visa and foreign ownership of companies in the country will have an impact on the local property market.

The new laws have the potential to bring about a shift in the way many expats live and work in the country, allowing a sense of permanence that was previously lacking for expatriates. The likely result is a significant effect on the way residents view property ownership in the country.

That’s according to local real estate experts, such as’s CEO Haider Ali Khan, who believes that the new 10-year visas are likely to see increased interest from expats in buying UAE property.

“Owning your own home suddenly becomes a lot more attractive if you have the opportunity to settle for a decade in the UAE instead of two years at a time,” says Khan, who thinks there could be an effect on the commercial market as well. “The 10-year visas will give a large number of expats a greater feeling of permanence in their adopted country. This will provide even more reason to opt for the long-term security of owning property in the UAE as opposed to renting. We could also see the focus shifting towards business owners buying offices in the UAE, as well as other commercial premises, rather than renting.”

Video: UAE sends strong message with 10-year visas to halt exodus

Paul Kelly, operations director at real estate business Allsopp & Allsopp, says the 10-year visas will undoubtedly generate more interest in property sales across the UAE.

“If someone is on a 10-year visa, it brings around a completely different mindset and approach to life in the UAE,” says Kelly. “There is more permanency to your situation, which in turns makes you think more long-term about your time here. A part of this is purchasing a property. If you’re going to be anywhere in the world for a good few years, then it makes sense to purchase a property and invest in yourself and your future.

“There is a buzz around the market, certainly, in terms of people talking about the new visas. It’s too early to say what the exact impact will be, but what is likely to happen is that there is going to be a lot more investment in Dubai and a lot more people encouraged to set up businesses here. That, in turn, will create jobs, population growth and more demand for property, both on the rental and the buying side.”

Mario Volpi, sales manager at global property broker Engel & Völkers, has already had inquiries from those interested in the future regulations. He believes that while it is still early days to know the full impact, the result could even have an effect on people looking to retire in the UAE.

“Some clients have inquired about the new ruling but it is still too early to pick through the eligibility and other details,” says Volpi. “The new ruling could be a game changer as people in the future will see the UAE as their home, rather than just a temporary place to live and work. More people will look at their housing arrangements and it is clear to me that 10-year UAE visas will attract regular renters to invest and become homeowners. Relaxed visa rules or allowing longer period visas could also turn the UAE into a country where older people could retire to. This particular market is huge and if it can be tapped, it will give a welcome impetus to the property market in general.”

Related: Long-term visas to boost investment in UAE or not?

The UAE as a center for technical excellence

Aside from a welcome boost to the property sector, the new laws also have the potential to help the UAE achieve its ambition to become a center for technical excellence. The country has already made headlines around the world for high-tech futuristic projects including autonomous flying taxis and a proposed Hyperloop high-speed transit system. These new laws are a step towards achieving those ambitions by building a center for technical excellence, something Bayut’s Khan is keen to see happen.

“The way to do is by attracting the best talent available from around the world, and, also having a good ecosystem in place to support that talent. I am talking about the people who are going to innovate new enterprises, which in turn will go on to contribute to the economy and create more jobs,” says Khan. “Having a 10-year visa stamp on their passports will allow these people to build a long-term career in the UAE and feel that their contribution is valued.”

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Zarah Evans, managing partner of real estate brokers Exclusive Links, believes that relaxing restrictions will encourage innovation and investment into the UAE, which can only be seen as a positive move with encouraging impacts.

“At the moment, the proposed 10-year UAE visas are being offered to specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields,” said Evans. “Whilst we are still waiting for clarity on whether it will be a residency or working visa, it is said to include their families.  This can only have a positive impact on residential property sales, where Dubai will be looking to the expats to further boost the country and economy.” is one of the leading property portals in the UAE, currently holding the highest number of rental listings in Dubai.

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