Expat retirement in the UAE

Published:  19 Jun at 6 PM
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As retirement approaches for expats working in the UAE, many would like to stay and enjoy their golden years in the place they now call home.

At present, some eight thousand expats live and work in the UAE, with many long-stayers approaching their retirement dates but wishing to stay in the Emirates. After many years in the region, the UAE is home but, without any provision for permanent residency, it’s a challenge to stay after retirement kicks in at either 60 or 65. Staying on may be tricky but it’s not impossible, especially for those who want to continue working or who have been sensible with their financial affairs.

The first option for foreign nationals of retirement age is a business investor visa, involving incorporating an already-owned business or investing in another business. Various financial commitments are on offer, dependent on the minimum investment threshold and the location of the company. The UAE’s free zones offer a huge choice of company set-ups, from flexi-desk individual units to entire offices. Incorporating a company giving flexibility to do business in the entire UAE as well as full access to local markets is another option, although local sponsors may be required.

Visas based on property ownership are another way to enjoy retirement in the UAE, with those owning real estate with an initial purchase cost of a million dirhams or more entitled to Dubai’s two-year investor permit or a renewable six-month investor visa in the other emirates. Dependent on the properties’ locations, those owning several homes worth a million in total will also be able to get a permit or visa. Properties can be subject to mortgages with 50 per cent of the full value paid off, and should be large enough for family habitation. Proof of income, either local or international, must also be provided.

The third option is a dependency visa giving permission to reside to expats with an adult child working in the Emirate. Regulations as to qualification are somewhat unclear as permission to stay is often decided on a case-by-case basis. Generally, the sponsor‘s monthly salary needs to be on or above Dh20,000 and the dependent’s living space must be documented via an attested tenancy contract. The visa is valid for a year, both parents must be included and a refundable security deposit is mandatory. All expat residents in the UAE are required to have valid private health insurance, and retirees aren’t eligible for state benefits.
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