The UAE’s recently updated visa and residency rules may be a boon for the emerging technologies sector and spur
development in artificial technology.
New visa issuance guidelines for the 10-year Golden visa and five-year Green visa have meant that more residents and
visitors are eligible to obtain long-term residency visas in the Gulf country that is working to diversify its
economy and leaving heavily into digital technology and cryptocurrency and its regulation, among other sectors.
“If I think about these new visa rules from the point of view of emerging technologies like AI, then the impact
is set to be tremendous. Billions of dollars in commercial AI revenue are expected to flow to the Middle East by
2030, and contribute heavily to double-digit GDP growth. But reaping the full benefits of AI requires a clear
strategy and skilled professionals,” said Sid Bhatia, regional vice president & general manager for the
Middle East & Turkey at Dataiku.
Talent retention and reskilling have been pulled to the forefront of the country’s agenda, and the UAE has
allocated AED24 billion to reskilling young Emirati talent.
“The UAE has already set a detailed AI strategy and is the first country in the world to appoint a minister of
AI. Now, by introducing golden visas for exceptional talents and
entrepreneurs, the country should see an influx of skilled professionals that can further the country’s
ambitious AI vision,” Bhatia said. The UAE passed its AI strategy in October 2017 to enhance operations across
transport, health, space, renewable energy, water, technology, education, environment, and traffic.
Beyond providing stability for individuals and families, the visa changes may also help foster intra company
competition that would make the tech sphere more competitive.
“These changes will also help boost internal competition between in-country companies, ultimately leading to a
better life for the talent, and push towards more innovation. Lastly, the support for young talent to be
in-country without worrying about finding a sponsor while they prepare for their next step, will make it
easier for them to consider UAE as their home. I believe these new visa rules will help to create a
thriving tech scene in the UAE,” said Rodrigo Castelo, vice president Middle East & Africa, OutSystems.
For tech startups, the new visas, specifically the freelance visa, offer growing companies greater flexibility
when hiring staff; it may also help them raise funds.
“As a tech startup, our backbone are freelancers as in many areas of support we can’t afford to have full-time
staff. The freelancer visa is a novel way to attract such freelancers to be based in the UAE,” said Rabih El
Chaar, CEO of Nadeera, a company using digital technologies to help communities in the GCC recycle.
For the founder and CEO of Fanera, the new rules will help recruit from abroad and “expand the talent pool,”
Mohammed Kilany said. “By providing incentives for investors to relocate to the UAE, this new ruling will
strengthen the country’s investment segment, increasing the potential for startups to successfully fund raise.”
The UAE has undergone rapid change, easing the ability to do business, lowering the cost to start a business, and
made it easier for more people to call the country home.
“This is yet another great move forward from the UAE government in its efforts to attract entrepreneurs to the
region and give them all the incentives to launch businesses that can go on to making valuable contributions to
the economy of the UAE as well as the wider Middle East,” said Ryaan Sharif, general manager, Flat6Labs.
“Obviously, there is still more to be done, however, as one of the region’s leading accelerators, every change to
proactively assist entrepreneurs in moving to the UAE and putting down roots here helps us in attracting the top