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Dubai: Country and Foreign Investment

Entry and Residence

This page was last updated on 9 March 2021.

The Naturalization and Immigration Department at the Ministry of Interior is the only administrative authority responsible for issuing visas to foreigners wishing to enter the UAE. The visas issued by the Department differ in accordance with the purpose of the visit of the foreign visitor.

Citizens of GCC countries (Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman) and British nationals with the right of abode in the UK do not need visas to enter the UAE. GCC nationals can stay more or less as long as they like. Britons can stay for a month and can then apply for a visa for a further two months.

The Dubai Naturalization & Residency Department (DNRD) issues different types of visas ranging from 96 hours up to 90 days, depending on the purpose of the visit. Fees vary, from AED165 for a 96 hour short stay visa up to AED1,220 for a long-term 90 day visa.

Whatever kind of visa you request, it will be deposited at the airport for you to collect upon arrival, but there is a charge for this service. If your passport shows any sign of travel to Israel, you will be denied entry to the UAE.

German citizens (both tourists and business visitors) may apply to the UAE embassy in Germany for one or two year multiple-entry visa. No sponsor is required. The maximum duration of stay should not exceed three months a year. The visa fee is AED1,500.

US citizens may apply to the UAE embassy in the US for one to ten year multiple-entry visas. A sponsor is required and the visa will be granted free of charge. The maximum duration of stay should not exceed six months per visit.

A Residence Visa stamped on a passport proves the legal residence of an expatriate in the country. This visa is given to workers who have obtained work permits or for relatives living with them permanently, and additional documentation is required.

In 2003, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started making a determined push to increase the participation of locals in the work-force under a policy known as 'emiratisation'.

Dr Omar bin Sulaiman, CEO of Dubai Internet City, noted at the time that while the Dubai Internet City was devoted to emiratisation, this would not mean that all UAE nationals would be guaranteed a job there. "Nationals must not take for granted that jobs are waiting for them at DIC, which will scour the market to hire the most dedicated individuals irrespective of nationality. Dubai is a cosmopolitan city and we will look at all individuals of various nationalities to recruit the best. You will secure a job not because you are a citizen but because you are a hard-working citizen."

In June 2005, the body responsible for administering the programme, the National Human Resource Development & Employment Authority (or Tanmia) announced plans to deny work permits and entry visas to firms that do not comply with their prescribed 'emiratisation' quotas.

The Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, decided to step up measures to deny firms not complying with the prescribed Emiratisation quotas the right to obtain work permits and entry visas for foreign labour.

Studies undertaken by Tanmia revealed that in the banking sector only seven out of 47 banks operating in the UAE had achieved their 2004 Emiratisation target of four per cent; that over 19 banks registered a gap of over 10 per cent between the targeted and realised levels; and that the overall Emiratisation percentage realised by the sector was 27.6 per cent. In the insurance sector, only one out of the 46 operating firms achieved the prescribed quota (5 per cent) and that the nationals accounted for only 5.3 per cent of the sector's overall work force in 2004. Practical steps were agreed upon in the meeting to accelerate implementation of the Cabinet resolutions in order to reverse the modest results.

In June, 2004, the Dubai government unveiled plans to enshrine in law rules governing foreign freehold ownership of property.

In March 2006, the long-awaited Dubai property law was issued, but Law No.7 of 2006 stipulated that freehold is limited to UAE and GCC citizens and companies wholly owned by them, as well as public shareholding companies. However, the law also stipulated that upon approval of Dubai's ruler, non-UAE nationals may be given the right to own properties in some parts of Dubai.

In November 2005, meanwhile, as soaring rents and other costs prompted businesses in Dubai to consider relocating to cheaper bases, the government stepped in to ensure that property owners couldn't increase rents by more than a stipulated level over the following year.

The latest decree issued by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence, in January 2011, prescribed that rents in the Emirate can not be raised by more than 20% if the current rental value is 55% or more below the average similar rent. The allowed increases are capped at 15%, 10% and 5% for property rental values 46%-55%, 36%-45% and 26%-35% below the average respectively.

In August 2006, the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) published draft legislation that would allow foreign freehold ownership of property in the DIFC.

The laws included the DIFC Real Property Law 2006 and the Strata Title Law 2006. These laws, enacted in June 2007, allow for foreign companies and individuals to hold freehold ownership of real estate within the Dubai International Financial Centre.



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