Dubai has long been a destination for expatriates from around the world, but in recent years there”s been a growing trend towards residents choosing to stay for longer periods of time. In response to this, in 2018, the UAE cabinet approved a law to introduce a renewable five-year retirement visa, which came into effect over a year later.
Michale Kortbawi is a partner at BSA Lawyers, he described this new retirement visa as changing Dubai, making it “no longer a place where you come and you work and then you take your money and you leave”. It’s giving foreign nationals the chance to invest and make a life in the city.
According to the United Nations estimates, last year the UAE hosted more migrants than France or Canada.
Those seeking to obtain the visa must meet one of four criteria. They must have a monthly income of approximately 4,600 euros, or have proof of savings in excess of 230,000 euro. Alternatively they must own a property worth at least 460,000 euros or have combined savings and property valued at a minimum 460,000 euros.
Although initially aimed at current Dubai residents, the visa scheme will be extended to people all over the world. The idea is that they come and spend their retirement here and enjoy the year round sunshine and the many activities the city has to offer.
The aim of the retirement visa is not only to highlight the city’s unique lifestyle, but also to help boost economic development in the country as a business and investment centre. Harsha Varyani is in her 50’s and has called Dubai her home for the past eight years and has even set up her own business.
Having the retirement visa for her lifts a weight of her shoulders, “I don’t have to think about moving in the short term. After a year or two, I can actually stay on longer and devote my time, give my 100% to my business and do what I’m passionate about doing in Dubai.”
However, as we age, health care facilities become increasingly important.
The CEO of Med Care Hospitals and Medical Centres, Andre Daoud, says his company’s services are adapting to the new demography. With more elderly people being offered the visa, he says “it’s important that they’re in line with those needs”. That’s why they’re improving the array of services to that age bracket.
The UAE doesn’t levy income tax on individuals, which makes it attractive to retirees but the implications for people living in the city will vary from country to country when it comes to their pension.
Swedish pensions are subject to SINK tax for people who live abroad at either nought or 25% of your income over the personal allowance. The UK and the UAE have a double tax treaty in place which should ensure no tax is payable in the UAE for British retirees if they are already paying their taxes in the UK. Spain and the UAE also have a double taxation agreement. Taxes are only paid once, if applicable in Spain.
Once people decide to stay in Dubai where they live becomes extremely important, whether as tenants or buyers.
“I think if you’re a seller, or a landlord it’s definitely going to bring more clients.
“The property market needs people to move here, live here and stay here to keep it very active.
“So, for me, it’s definitely good news.”
The five-year retirement visa is a new hope for retirees wanting to head to Dubai. It’s looking to encourage more people to stay and call the city their home.