UAE’s remote working visa: How does the SME ecosystem stand to benefit?

UAE’s remote working visa How does the SME ecosystem stand to benefit?

Op-ed by Hisham Al Gurg, CEO, Seed Group and the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum

No matter where you live right now, for one whole year, you can come to the UAE, live here as a resident, enjoy the beaches and the sun in the glistening city of Dubai, bask in the opulence of Abu Dhabi, drench in the art and culture scene of Sharjah, feed your adventurous soul in the mountains of RAK or the endless beaches of Fujairah—all while you work for your employer back home.

If this is not what dreams are made of, what else is?

The recent one-year residency visa for remote workers in the UAE, announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, allows foreign nationals to enter the UAE on self-sponsorship, live here and continue to serve their employers in their respective home countries.

The visa is being hailed for its ability to attract more talent to the UAE and to further boost business opportunities, but it has some unique value additions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country, that not many of us are talking about.

The visa is a boon for global corporations, SMEs, and entrepreneurs wanting to enter the business market in the UAE or in the region which holds the potential and is looking at a brighter future in the coming years.

The visa directly translates to lower costs of setting up a business or bringing a huge office-base to the UAE. Companies or entrepreneurs can now send in small (one or two-member) teams to the UAE who will come here, explore the market, look at the trends and test the business, all while being protected as domestic residents of the UAE.

This means if you are an entrepreneur, say developing parts of an electric vehicle, and want to explore the market of your product and services in the UAE and the wider MENA region, you can send a couple of your employers to the UAE under the one-year residency visa for remote workers and test the waters to see what the business landscape in the UAE has to offer, without the need to invest upfront or set up a fancy office.

The move is an empowering one when it comes to the SME-ecosystem. It gives one the freedom to explore the ‘work from anywhere model’, which is predicted to dominate the corporate scene for years to come, having started and made widespread in the Covid-19 age. The nationwide move builds on the already successfully running remote working programme launched by Dubai in October that has helped attract a good number of remote workers to the Emirate.

A comfortable time zone, an approachable geographic location, a powerful and enabling technology infrastructure – overall, the UAE is a dream place to live and to work and such steps by the government only strengthen the UAE’s position as a global economic capital.

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