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

The new long-term visa for international investors and specialist professionals will have far-reaching impacts on the property market in the UAE.

According to Dubbizle, a property website, the change will help boost the real estate sector and encourage more foreign investment in the market.

Read: Dubai, Abu Dhabi on opposite sides of spending: Did that impact growth?

The latest study by Dubizzle Property revealed the top 10 nationalities investing in UAE property in 2017:

India (19% of the foreign visits).

Saudi Arabia (16%).

 UK (15%).

USA (13%),

Pakistan (10%),

Ireland (8%) and others.

Read: Here’s why 8 out of 10 UAE start-ups fail in their first 2 years

Dubai Land Department (DLD) has revealed that real estate transactions in Dubai for the first three months of 2018 totaled $16 billion through 13,759 deals.

The UAE nationals outnumbered all other nationalities including Gulf, Arab and foreign countries, totaling $1 billion through 1,587 transactions made by 1,264 investors.

They were followed directly by the 1,387 Indian nationals who invested $800 million through 1,550 transactions.

Saudis came in third place with investments of nearly $350 million.

But Virtuzone’s chairman thinks these new changes won’t impact free zones, which are a thriving spot for startups.

Free zones to stay despite new rules

Neil Petch, Virtuzone’s Chairman, said in a recent podcast with Drive Talk that he believed a large number of foreign companies would still seek to set up shops in the UAE’s free zones.

Petch said the move is similar to the establishment of free zones in the 1980s in that it “filled the business community with confidence.”

“The role of free zones, now numbering over 50 in the UAE, is here to stay,” he added.

“Each free zone has a sweet spot and specific segment to target and serve, but they share a low cost, light touch, low tax make-up that particularly suits start-ups.”

Find out more: UAE foreign businesses now free to own their enterprises outside of zones

Petch added that the changes to onshore companies “will serve more like an obvious means for smaller companies now growing into larger ones, than as a competitor to the start-ups being incubated in the UAE’s low tax environment.”

“For every company that evolves from free zones to onshore, expect five or ten to come from Europe, Asia, or the States. As they realize that the UAE’s low tax environment represents a far better choice than previous favorites,” he said.

 “We should expect a soft launch, category or activity-based, perhaps with the largest companies, and foreign direct investments, rightly prioritized,” he concluded.