Building a life in the Emirates: How to secure residency in the UAE

The UAE is one of the most popular destinations for expats in the world, and securing permanent residency here is not only attractive but simple as well.

Whether it’s lavish Dubai, cosmopolitan Abu Dhabi, culture-crazy Sharjah or any other of the UAE’s seven emirates that strikes your fancy, building your life in the Emirates is always a great move.

So let’s look at the steps you need to take to secure residency here.

1. Incredibly fast path to residency

The complete residency process in the UAE generally takes around one month – which is super-fast, given that other global programmes tend to take three months or more.

And as if one month isn’t fast enough, you also get an entry permit within a week or two of applying. This is the first of four stages in the overall application, and means you can then live in the Emirates while you finish the other three stages. These are:

o  Entry permit

o  Status adjustment

o  Medical and ID registration

o  Visa stamping

Although the formal bureaucracy takes those extra few weeks, to all intents and purposes you’ll feel just like a permanent resident almost immediately.

2. Form a company in one of the world’s most vibrant economies

Starting a company in the UAE allows you to become a permanent resident, unlocking a whole world of business otherwise inaccessible to you.

And what a world that is. The UAE is one of the world’s most vibrant economies, offering a vast – and largely wealthy – international market. With a population of 9.5 million in 2018 and a median age of 33.5 years, aspiring businesses won’t find any shortage of consumers. And roughly 6.3 million of the UAE population are aged 25–54; a prime buying market.

Then there’s the tax situation – offering both corporate and personal income tax at 0% (apart from oil companies and foreign banks). It’s no wonder businesspeople are drawn to the UAE.

And to make life even easier, forming a company in the UAE is officially one of the ways you apply for residency. To break that down a little further, there are essentially three ways to qualify for UAE residency:

o  Buy real estate worth at least AED 1m

o  Enter a full-time contract of employment (in which case your employer will handle your application)

o  Establish a company in the UAE

Your best bet is to talk to a specialist to explore which path to UAE residency is best for you, but most investors find this third option the most convenient and straightforward. And don’t forget the speed – you’re looking at a matter of weeks if you choose this route.

This option is especially popular amongst businesspeople but it’s still the best option even if you’ve got no intention of trading here. You’re not formally required to carry out any business activities once you’ve formed a company so this method is ideal even if you have other reasons for joining the Emirates. It’s also a fantastic option if you don’t want to work in the UAE – for instance, if you plan to retire.

3. A safe and secure future for your family

When you apply for UAE residency, your immediate family and dependants are included (as long as you all meet the entry criteria), so it’s an easy process to bring your family here.

And why wouldn’t you? The UAE has an incredibly low crime rate, ranked the 4th safest country in the world in 2018. While increasing crime – both petty crime like theft and more serious, violent crime – seems the depressing trend in most places worldwide, the UAE offers an incredibly safe place to live.

There are few places better to raise a family than the UAE, and life here offers parents genuine peace of mind that children can grow up free from violence.

That’s one reason the UAE is so geared towards families, with endless family-orientated things to do across the country. Plus, the UAE boasts some of the best schools and hospitals in the world. There are more than 120 international schools to choose from in Dubai alone, in fact.

It’s also worth noting that hiring help is a big part of UAE culture and you can secure a live-in maid for much less than you think (typically around AED 2000 – 5000 per month). That’s an invaluable luxury for many.

The UAE can admittedly be an different environment for expats – especially initially – but it’s a very safe one. And the UAE is known for tolerance. Aspiring expats would do well to talk to an expert about the laws and customs here – but most people find the Emirates an alluring, liberated and comfortable environment.

4. Enjoy economic opportunity

Forming a company aside, the economic opportunity in the UAE is impressive. The average annual income for an Emirati family is nearly AED 900,000, for context. And don’t forget, the biggest draw of the UAE for many is the prospect of a tax-free salary.

Right now, you might give as much as half of your earned salary away in tax; relocating to the UAE means your salary essentially doubles overnight.

Even if you don’t see UAE residency as a forever solution, the earning opportunity compels many expats to join the Emirates for at least a few years. That might be to enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle – you’ll find ample opportunity to splash out here – or to save money for your future.

The fact is, even a few years in the UAE can set you up for life – and even if you prefer to splurge than save, the fruits of economic prosperity have never tasted sweeter than in the Emirates.

It’s also worth pointing out, the UAE residency programme is perfectly set up for both aspiring permanent and temporary residents. The programme initially issues your residency visa for only three years – an ideal period of time to decide if you want to build a life here more permanently. And if you do? You can easily renew your visa an unlimited number of times.

5. A convenient base for global travel

An Arabian peninsula nation in the Middle East, the UAE is a fantastic base for further international travel. Arguably the best in the world, providing easy access to Europe, Central Asia, Africa and, of course, the Middle East. The UAE capitalises on this fantastic location with six major international airports and two world-class airlines (amongst many others), allowing simple onward travel to almost anywhere in the world.

Then there’s Dubai International Airport, which is in a league of its own amongst the Emirati airports – although they’re impressive in their own right. Dubai International Airport was the third busiest in the world in 2017, to give some idea of scale, with more than 88 million passengers.

For expats, this translates into easy and inexpensive travel all over the world – whether you’re thinking of a longer trip or a short hop somewhere nearby. Georgia, for instance, is enduringly popular amongst UAE residents. Flights only cost an average of AED 850, and you don’t even need a visa if you hold UAE permanent residency.

6. Become part of a global community and build a global lifestyle

The UAE is home to a fusion of nationalities, more than 200 by some reports, so moving here means becoming part of a truly international community. Few places in the world can boast such diversity. In fact, nearly 90% of the UAE population are expats.

This all means there are few places in the world that expats will feel more instantly at home; surrounded by others in the same situation. Relocating to the UAE might feel like a big decision but knowing you’ll be one of many people doing exactly the same is deeply reassuring.

This international vibe also translates into a thriving social life, if that’s something that interests you. A cultural melting pot, everyone will find something that suits their interests in the UAE, be that shopping in the Dubai Mall, sandboarding across the desert or reflecting in the peaceful grandeur of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Food deserves a special mention too, with endless options reflecting the cultural diversity of the UAE community. You could eat a different cuisine for almost every day of the year, if you’re that way inclined. These might seem like small things, but if you’re considering building a life somewhere the little things do matter. And the UAE ticks those little boxes, as well as the big ones.

The UAE: A land of prosperity, diversity and opportunity

Millions of expats of almost every nationality come to the UAE to build a more exciting, more prosperous and more secure lifestyle – the lavish exterior of the country belies a warm, peaceful and tolerant heart that welcomes newcomers with open arms. The fact is, the UAE truly is a land of opportunity, and the UAE permanent residency programme makes building your home here simple.