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How Dubai managed to attract expatriates during the pandemic
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With almost 90% of foreigners among its population, Dubai is the El Dorado for expatriates. Unlike other countries, the Covid-19 health crisis has not affected the attractiveness of the UAE for teleworkers - quite the contrary!

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New visas for skilled remote workers and expatriates in Dubai

At the beginning of the health crisis, many expatriates returned to their countries of origin and left their host countries, including Dubai. In order to attract skilled workers again, and to keep them, the United Arab Emirates introduced a new visa specially designed for remote workers: the work remotely programme. It allows employees and entrepreneurs with a minimum monthly income of USD 5,000 to work remotely from the country for one year. The cost of an application is USD 611, and you must have health insurance to cover health costs in the UAE.

This new visa complements the range of other residence visas available to certain foreigners, including:

  • the Golden Visa, for 5 or 10 years, dedicated to certain investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified workers or exceptional students
  • the 5-year Golden Retirement Visa for foreign retirees;
  • the 1 to 3 years Freelancer Visa, for those wishing to create a business on Emirati soil, in the media, education, technology or design sectors.

In 2021, the country has also announced the relaxation of residency requirements for highly skilled individuals: investors, business people or PhD students for example. The Green Visa should soon allow them to reside and work in Dubai without having a corporate sponsor to vouch for them. This visa will also allow them to bring their parents and children under 25 years old by sponsoring them.

> Read also: The health system in the United Arab Emirates

Are you planning a temporary or permanent expatriation to Dubai or another UAE Emirate?

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Health restrictions more relaxed in Dubai than in Europe

Dubai was a big hit with expatriates during the Covid crisis because of its lighter health restrictions than those implemented in Western countries. 

To escape the strict lockdowns of Europe, many remote workers and digital nomads have set their sights on the first city of the United Arab Emirates. In autumn 2020, the country was among the first to reopen its borders to foreign travellers.

Thanks to an effective vaccination campaign, there were no lockdowns or quarantines. Restaurants, shopping centres and businesses of all kinds also remained open, giving the impression of a quicker return to normality than in Europe and attracting more expatriates tired of the health constraints.

An attractive living environment

As a result of the health crisis, property prices in Dubai have fallen sharply, prompting many entrepreneurs, teleworkers and wealthy retirees to invest in often luxurious accommodation and move there.

Because even in times of a global epidemic, Dubai knows how to attract tourists, but especially highly qualified expatriates! The city can indeed boast of offering an exceptional living environment to its inhabitants. 

The climate, but also a state-of-the-art health system, a very low crime rate, high-tech infrastructures and the absence of income tax are strong arguments that attract more and more expatriates.

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