(Bloomberg) — The United Arab Emirates said it had launched a “Golden Card” permanent residency program, granting 6,800 permits to foreigners who together had invested 100 billion dirhams ($27 billion).
While the residencies announced on Tuesday were given to investors, people with “exceptional skills” in medicine, engineering, science and arts can also be eligible, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the program differed from one announced last year that offered some expats long-term visas that have to be renewed on expiry. Officials weren’t immediately available for comment.
Gulf governments have long resisted offering permanent residency to their millions of foreign workers, guarding privileges enjoyed by their citizens. But forced by the 2014 oil-price slump to prepare their economies for a post-fossil fuel world, they are now seeking to entice wealthy people to stay.
Last year, the U.A.E. announced a plan to grant visas of five to 10 years to wealthy property investors, entrepreneurs and “specialized talents and researchers.” A minimum investment of 5 million dirhams ($1.4 million) was required to obtain a five-year visa, and double that amount to stay for a decade.
Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Tuesday that “residency will be granted to those with exceptional talent and all those who positively contribute to the U.A.E.’s success story.”