Middle East

UAE cabinet approves programme to attract remote workers

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DUBAI, March 21 (Reuters) - The federal cabinet of the United Arab Emirates approved a new system allowing professionals to reside in the Gulf state while working remotely for employers abroad, a scheme that the emirate of Dubai launched by itself in October.

The UAE has taken several measures to attract wealthy foreigners as the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices have hit its economy, particularly that of business and tourism hub Dubai.

Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Dubai's ruler, said in a Twitter post on Sunday that a new work visa would cover such professional workers. He added the cabinet had also approved a multiple-entry tourist visa for all nationalities.

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"We are working with clear objectives to boost our economic status globally and provide the best quality of life to our citizens and residents," he said.

Residence for foreigners, who make up a majority of the UAE's 9 million population, had thus far been mainly linked to employment inside the country, with workers sponsoring families.

Dubai is increasingly facing pressure from other business hubs including Saudi Arabia, which is pressing foreign companies to setup regional headquarters in Riyadh. read more

Many foreign workers, needed to support demand in Dubai's real estate, services and retail sectors, left last year after firms slashed jobs.

Dubai's realty market has been re-energised by prime property sales in the past few months, with buyers taking advantage of decade-low prices, easy financing and an economy open for business despite the pandemic. read more

Meanwhile sales in the UAE retail sector are expected to grow 13% this year, to reach $58 billion by the end of 2021, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Sunday, as the Gulf state banks on a vaccination drive and its hosting of the Dubai Expo world fair which starts in October to boost demand.

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Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Davide Barbuscia; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Pravin Char

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