The introduction of a new five-year visa for expat retirees could boost Dubai’s appeal as a retirement destination for expats and overseas property investors.
The UAE’s new visa option is aimed at expats older than 55. Head of international sales at property firm Savills, Hugo Thistlethwayte, explained: ‘This [new directive] will be extremely helpful, particularly for British expats who are coming to the end of careers spent in the Middle East or Far East.’
Thistlethwayte pointed out that for those who have not retained a home in the UK, increasingly high house prices could make it ‘difficult’ for them to return to their home base.
He added: ‘Many will look for an alternative that allows them to continue to enjoy the lifestyle they have enjoyed throughout their careers. Dubai would be a good choice destination and we expect the visa extension to add to its appeal.’
However, other commentators are less certain about the value of the visa. Advisor at UK-based emigration financial advisory firm Montfort, Chris Slater-Jones, added: ‘The new laws may well entice people to purchase homes to qualify. This is, of course, if their contracts are extended and they are able to continue earning the income that bought them to the country in the first place. It may not entice British nationals choosing Dubai as a retirement destination over places such as Spain given the visa is only for five years.’
He continued: ‘A lot of Brits look to retire to warmer countries based around their families, or close to their families. For Dubai, they may have family there, however generally it is not seen as a permanent move for most, with the intention of moving back to Britain once their contract is over.’
The government has stated that in order to qualify for the over-55s visa, expats must own a real estate investment of at least AED 2 million. They must also have savings of more than AED 1 million, or another option is to prove income of at least AED 20,000 per month. The new visa is expected to be introduced from next year onwards.