The UAE has long been considered as a popular location for migration, primarily due to its tax-free environment and excellent weather and lifestyle.

For most foreigners, a move to the UAE is usually brought about by a new job opportunity. Outside of this, it is also possible to obtain UAE residency by setting up a company or investing in real estate.

Over the course of this article, we will look at 4 reasons why you should be considering UAE residency and what this could mean for you and your business.

  1. Political Stability

2019 has seen continued periods of uncertainty across the world, whether it be the continuation of the Brexit saga, the US-China Trade War, or the recent anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, wherever you are in the world, chances are you will feel the effects of uncertainty. This includes the indirect effects such as increased volatility in your investment portfolio returns, a weaker exchange rate, or less tangible effects such as greater uncertainty towards migration.

During a time of increasing economic and political instability, it is becoming much more commonplace for people to seek out a plan B.

The UAE continues to be ranked as the most stable nation in the Arab world, ranking higher than Spain, Italy, Greece, Malaysia, Cyprus, India, Russia and China. The UAE government is often praised for its political neutrality and it continues to be an incredibly safe place to work and live making it the ideal location for your plan B.

  1. Government Spending and Initiatives

Outside of its political stability, the UAE is also widely recognized for investing into its own economic development. In June of this year, a Dh50 billion (US$13.6bn) economic stimulus program was approved by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with the objective of increasing economic growth and promoting the ease of doing business in the UAE.

In a world where government cutbacks or austerity measure are prevalent, maybe it's time to relocate somewhere where the opposite is true?

Other notable initiatives include the UAE's Federal Law No.2, introduced in 2014, which stipulates that 10% of all federal government contracts must be allocated to SMEs. For the upcoming Expo 2020, this equated to Dh6.21bn (US$1.36bn) worth of contracts going to SMEs, representing 56% of all contracts relating to the event. This fact alone highlights the many opportunities for foreign SME business owners in the UAE.

Likewise, the UAE is committed to developing a knowledge-based economy that is free from a dependence on oil. As part of these plans, the UAE aims for the non-oil sector to account for 80% of their GDP over the next 10-15 years.

The statistics show that the UAE is on course to achieve this.

In 1980, only 21% of the UAE's GDP came from non-oil sector. By 2018, this figure more than tripled with 70.5% of the UAE's GDP coming from the non-oil sector.

To achieve this transition, the UAE has focused on developing a wide range of growth sectors which includes tourism, airlines, trade, manufacturing, hospitality, financial services, real estate, construction and logistics.

Some of these industries such as manufacturing and aviation have experienced significant transformation to become the best in the world.

If you operate in these sectors, the UAE could represent an untapped resource of potential demand.

  1. Long-Term Visa Changes and 100% Foreign Ownership

The UAE is not only investing heavily in its own development, but also constantly seeking ways of improving the operating environment for anyone doing business or considering doing business here.

This year we have seen the introduction of a whole range of new long-term visa (5 or 10 years) options which allow foreigners to live, work or study in the UAE without the need of a local sponsor. The criteria range from sizable investments (Dh5m-10m or US$1.36m-US$2.72m) into real estate, public investments, or new/existing business venture, to grants for those with exceptional talents or academic backgrounds such as doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors, or creative individuals in the field of culture and art.

To complement these visa changes, the government also announced the introduction of 100% foreign ownership for onshore companies across 122 economic activities across 13 sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, and renewable energy. This landmark ruling means that foreign business owners no longer require a local partner who holds 51% ownership of the company, something which previously only applied to Free Zone companies.

In my experience, the primary doubt or concern for business owners considering relocating or investing into the UAE was the fear of relinquishing a part of their company to an unknown partner. Removing these ownership restrictions undoubtedly makes the UAE a much more attractive destination for foreign business owners.

  1. Broad Range of Company Formation Options and Ease of Integrating Foreigners

The UAE offers a wide selection of company formation options catering to the needs of all investor profiles. Whether you are a start-up with limited capital looking to operate virtually, or a global business looking for a full-service office housing a full team of staff, the UAE has an affordable option for you.

The UAE is also constantly looking at innovating their company formation options and introducing new structuring vehicles. Recent examples include the introduction of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV's) to the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) Free Zone and Trusts and Foundations to Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC). When combined with the enhanced foreign ownership rules, there really is a company option or structure for all investor requirements.

Further to this, what many foreign investors do not realize is the sheer number of expatriates residing in the Emirates. Out of the UAE's 9.2 million population, 7.8 million of those are expats, with local Emirati Nationals numbering 1.4 million. Despite this, the UAE does a very good job of balancing local culture and customs while also being a cosmopolitan and progressive country that is very welcoming to foreigners.

What are the next steps?

If, after having read this article, you are interested in exploring how to acquire UAE Residency, please do not hesitate to contact us for a private consultation.

Whether you are a business owner looking at relocating your business, a property investor looking at acquiring a visa through property or simply considering your options, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you successfully obtain UAE Residency today.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.