Long term residency in the UAE through investment

The UAE’s population is once again on the rise. After being hit heavily by the Covid-19 pandemic and falling oil prices, it has now rebounded and thanks to the huge success of Expo 2020 and ongoing government efforts to attract foreign residency, expats are once again choosing to relocate to the Emirates.

Between the end of 2020 and April 2022, the population in Dubai rose by close to 100,000 and most of this growth is down to expat immigration. Expats make up 88.52% of the country’s 10.2 million residents and the UAE has the fifth largest international migrant stock in the world.

The UAE has always been a haven for foreign immigrants. Its high standard of living, ready availability of job opportunities and absence of income tax attract in excess of 200,000 new arrivals each year and recent reforms such as the introduction of unemployment insurance, long-term residency initiatives and flexible family laws are set to ensure this trend continues.

Who is relocating to the UAE and why?

Most people coming into the UAE choose to settle in Dubai. They are mainly young professionals who want to build their careers in a largely tax-free country while enjoying the year-round sunshine, luxury lifestyle and endless entertainment and nightlife choices the emirate offers.

Because of this Dubai’s expat population has always been seen as quite transient, with most people coming for a few years to make money, build a career and then leave but this is gradually changing, and more and more people are starting to stay longer-term, choosing to build a future in the emirate. Dubai is also beginning to appeal to a much broader demographic and attract more families and retirees.

Diversity in the UAE

The UAE’s population is made up over 200 nationalities with Indians and Pakistanis accounting for the largest expatriate groups, at 2.77 million and 1.28 million respectively. Approximately 510,000 westerners live in the country, representing about 5.1% of the population.

In terms of age demographics, historically, the 25–54-year-old age group has constituted the largest proportion of the population. However, recent government initiatives such as the retirement visa and savings retirement scheme, have begun to encourage younger foreign expats to consider retirement in the country and encourage those nearing retirement age to stay in the country.

Why are people now settling long-term in Dubai?

A lot of it comes down to opportunity. In April 2022, the UAE introduced a whole host of new long-term residency permits that have made it much easier for expats to stay in the country for longer periods.

Initiatives such as the Golden Visa, Green Visa, Retirement Visa and Freelance Visa as well as other residency through investment schemes have triggered a change in mentality among existing expats and new arrivals and made the possibility of long-term residency both more attractive and more attainable.

Not only this, but other recent reforms such as the introduction of unemployment insurance and amendments to family laws covering marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance have given residents a greater sense of security and made the transition to the UAE that much easier.

What are the main benefits of relocating to Dubai?

Tax free income

The absence of income tax in Dubai and just 5% VAT on goods and services, makes it a great place to enjoy a high quality of life while still being able to put a significant portion of your earnings into savings. The average monthly salary affords its residents a very comfortable life with the opportunity to enjoy the Emirate’s world class entertainment and hospitality while also affording the possibility of regular holidays to some of the world’s most coveted destinations.

Strategic location

Dubai is located at the crossroads between East and West, with two thirds of the world’s population accessible within an eight-hour flight. This is beneficial for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it offers a convenient middle ground between the business markets of Europe, Africa and Asia which makes it the ideal place to conduct international business, but also it offers the opportunity to travel to some of the world’s most exotic and beautiful countries within just a short flight.

Great lifestyle

The living standard available in Dubai is hard to match elsewhere. Its modern, world class infrastructure, diverse social scene and incredible convenience mean that everything you need to live a comfortable life is within easy reach.


The UAE doesn’t impose any minimum stay requirements to its residents and the only condition for retaining residency status is to return to the UAE after no more than 6 months abroad. When added to the ease with which it is now possible to attain residency, it makes Dubai a great place to base yourself while travelling abroad as much or little as you please.

UAE residency also offers a great deal of financial flexibility and privacy for business owners and professionals. Residents of the UAE are not required to file private tax returns or provide financial information to third parties and are free to hold as many bank accounts in as many other countries as desired. The UAE does not participate in any automatic information exchange programmes.

How to obtain long-term residency in the UAE

The Golden Visa

The Golden Visa was initially introduced in 2019 and open to investors, business owners, scientists, talented professionals in high demand industries and exceptional students or graduates. In 2022 the requirements for obtaining the visa were amended to reduce the investment amount and remove the restriction on duration of stay outside the country. This opened up the Golden Visa to a much broader demographic and made it much more accessible.

Previously, residence visas in the UAE were issued for a maximum of three years at a time and required sponsorship by an employer. The Golden Visa has changed all that and provided expats with an avenue to obtain permanent residency without the need for a sponsor.

The visa is issued for a period of 10 years with automatic renewal and qualification only requires that you purchase a property with a value of at least AED 2 million (includes off-plan deals) or be a partner or owner in a business with a minimum annual revenue of AED 1 million. It is also obtainable for anyone that has founded and sold a UAE business for a sum of at least AED 7 million.

The Retirement Visa

The retirement visa is open to anyone over the age of 55 years and is available both to people currently living abroad or those already in the UAE who have reached retirement age. It is issued for a period of 5 years with the option to extend provided the eligibility criteria continue to be met.

To be eligible for the visa, the applicant must have worked for at least 15 years, either inside or outside the UAE, be at least 55 years old at the time of retirement and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Own a property or properties in the UAE with a value of at least AED 2 million
  • Have financial savings of at least AED 1million held in a UAE bank
  • Receive a monthly income of at least AED 20,000

Concluding thoughts

The UAE continues to make significant strides in attracting foreign investment and becoming a choice destination for anyone seeking a great work life balance in a modern, well-connected city full of great professional opportunities. With more options for long-term residency than ever before, now is the ideal time to consider the move and starting your new life.

How can Huriya Private help

Huriya Private has over 20 years of experience in the fields of private equity, immigration and corporate structuring. We have unparalleled knowledge of business practices and legal requirements in the UAE as well as an international network of contacts and a deep understanding of the needs of modern-day high net worth clients and international businesses.

We can guide you through the process of gaining residency in the UAE, advising you on the option that best suits your requirements and ensuring that you are fully compliant with all local laws and regulations. If you need help with this or any other immigration, financial or corporate structuring issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@huriyaprivate.com and we will be happy to help.