Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UAE to grant residency visas to freehold owners

Source: BI-ME and Reuters , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: 17-02-2009

The UAE plans to introduce a law within a year to grant renewable, six-month residency visas to owners of freehold property, a government official said in remarks published on Tuesday.

"The proposal ... will allow the owners to obtain a six-month renewable residency visa," The National newspaper reported, citing Nasser Al-Minhali, acting director-general of the UAE Department of Naturalisation and Residency.

The law would allow foreigners to gain residency rights "regardless of their nationality or the size and value of the property", the paper said.

Brig Gen Minhali said the aim was to create a unified visa system related to home purchases.

“It is a security organisational procedure,” he said.

“We do not want each emirate to develop procedures on its own, so we will unify it under the Ministry of Interior.”

The UAE links residency rights to employment and has no permanent residency system.

A spokesman for Aldar, Abu Dhabi’s largest property developer, said: “We would welcome any clarification regarding residency visas for international property buyers, but it is too early for us to comment any further.”

Dubai, one of the seven emirates in the UAE federation and the region's trade and tourism hub, has allowed foreigners to invest in certain properties on a freehold basis since 2002, and passed a law granting them that right in 2006.

Dubai's real estate sector is facing a sharp price slump and hundreds of billions of dollars of projects have been cancelled in the UAE as a result of the global eocnomic slowdown.

Abu Dhabi allows foreigners to hold properties on a long-term lease basis.