Dubai lures expat retirees with a five-year retirement visa

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Published 2020-09-07 11:20

While most Middle East countries are facing an expat exodus, the UAE is looking to attract more of them. Dubai has just announced its new strategy to attract and retain expat retirees: a retiree visa that will be renewable every five years. Here's what you need to know if you've always dreamed of retiring to one of the world's most developed and prosperous cities.

This program is being driven by Dubai Tourism with the collaboration of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. You are perhaps aware that 90% of Dubai's population are expats with more than 200 nationalities. In contrast, most of them are in Dubai either with a work permit or as dependents. The acceleration of this strategy that was initially approved in September 2018 will allow the government of Dubai to not only restore its image but also to attract more tourists once the global health crisis is over. In fact, this would mean frequent visits of relatives and friends of the expat retirees. This visa will be initially provided to foreign professionals who are already working in the emirate and who are about to retire.

How to qualify for a retirement visa?

To be eligible for a retiree visa, you must be aged over 55 and meet a set of conditions. For example, you earn at least 20,000 dirhams, that is around US $ 5,500. You will also be eligible if you have savings of at least one million dirhams (equal to some US $ 275,000) or own a property worth two million dirhams (approximately US $ 550,000). You should also have purchased local health insurance before submitting your visa application. It is also possible to combine the value of your property and the amount of your savings. On the other hand, the property must not be mortgaged. Keep in mind that you will be required to provide the necessary supporting documents such as a bank account statement for the last six months, or your title deed, or a letter issued by your bank indicating the value of your assets.

As indicated above, this visa is renewable every five years provided that you continue to meet the criteria mentioned above. Note that this program includes the spouse and children of the visa holder.

A sharp drop in real estate prices

The global health crisis had a significant impact on the local real estate market. It's worth noting that the number of real estate transactions in Dubai showed increased by 64% from May to June despite a sharp drop since the onset of the crisis. Regarding income, Dubai thus received around 4.72 billion dirhams (1.3 billion US dollars) in June, which represents a 12.92% compared drop to the same period last year. In fact, 2,327 properties were sold, compared to 2,721 during the same period in 2019. However, a total of 5,233 properties were sold in the second half of 2020 for a total value of 9.06 billion in dirhams (US $ 2.5 billion). According to Dubai's real estate experts, prices shall keep on falling over the next few months. So if you're looking to retire in Dubai, this might be your chance to qualify.

Dubai already had a stock of 31,000 new residential units, including 7,400 new villas in 2019. Besides, 10,800 villas additional villas should be completed by the end of 2020 and 11,900 more expected in 2021. Many real estate developers are also extending the duration of their payment plans in order to boost the local real estate market in the eyes of first-time buyers. For example, you won't have to pay any fees to the Dubai Land Department (DLD). If you prefer to buy off-plan property, you can just make a 10% advance payment.

Benefits of retiring in Dubai

While Dubai is unlikely to outclass the expat retirement destinations like Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, or Mexico and Costa Rica, known for their low cost of living and affordable health care, there are many benefits to spending your golden days there. Despite being one of the world's most expensive cities, Dubai offers an unrivalled quality of life, with a multitude of activities to suit all tastes, not to mention the luxurious lifestyle you have always dreamed of.

Add to this an ultra-sophisticated health system in a safe and serene environment. Dubai Tourism has also developed several health insurance formulas to meet the needs of future expat retirees and their families. Retiree visa holders will also be entitled to a series of banking benefits that have been developed with the collaboration of leading property developers. Also, to protect and manage the assets of retirees, DIFC Wills Service Center is offering competitive rates for its services for its will drafting, registering and homologating services.