Issue of Second Passport and Golden Visa Programme Likely to Modify UAE Expat Community

As a country run majorly by expatriates, UAE’s expat community serves as a major source of revenue generation. The country has expats from many countries around the world, including 2.6 million Indian expats, 700,000 Bangladeshis and 1.2 million Pakistani expats.

Rising uncertainty around Covid-19 has led a large part of UAE’s expat community to apply for second passport. Based on reports from the UAE-based citizenship advisers, many residents are eager to travel while ensuring a secure future for their families. As per InterNations — a community for expatriates and global minds, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are listed among the world’s 20 best cities for expats.

Most enquiries for a second passport have been raised by residents who have surplus income even amid the pandemic. Unlike earlier, even average income earners are showing interest in acquiring dual citizenship via second passport. Speaking about the hike in demand, CEO of Citizenship Invest (a UAE based firm offering second citizenship) said, “This pandemic has accelerated the urgency to obtain a second nationality, a passport that allows them to travel outside their countries when they need to do so, without having to plan ahead and worry about visa complications”.

Consequently, UAE’s expat community is likely to expand much beyond the high net worth individuals who consider spending huge sums of money for second passport a great investment. There is also a growing influx of investors and businesses, who are now planning to expand businesses abroad.

In a bid to expand UAE’s expat community, the Gulf state had extended its golden visa programme last month. The programme offers 10-year residency to professionals and degree-holders, including doctors, PhD holders and engineers in multiple fields. This is a great initiative to lure international intellectuals and boost local economy. With this programme, Dubai is expecting a 0.25 per cent hike in its economic growth rate.

Post November 18, the UAE had banned the issue of work visas to nationals from several Muslim countries, including Pakistan. The ban, although levied on security grounds, will impact the income that the Gulf nation received from lakhs of Pakistani expats.

According to Oxford Economics, the UAE’s expats community did not witness a major blow (which was predicted earlier) despite unemployment challenges amid Covid-19. Although Kuwait trimmed its foreign workforce due to hiking job losses, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are doing great in keeping their expatriates intact while working on boosting domestic tourism simultaneously.

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