Dubai launches 'talent pass' to attract professionals from around the world

Freelance licence being offered by Dubai Airport Free Zone is aimed at strengthening the emirate's position as a global talent hub

Dubai Airport Free Zone is home to more than 1,800 companies. Photo: DAFZ
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Dubai Airport Free Zone has launched a "talent pass" freelance licence category to attract global media, education, technology, art, marketing and consultancy professionals to the emirate.

This initiative will further boost the free zone's business environment and strengthen Dubai’s position as a global destination for innovators and talent, DAFZ said in a statement on Sunday.

The talent pass will enable freelancers to obtain a three-year residence visa and allow them to rent commercial office space in the free zone that offers flexible costs and remote services.

License holders will have access to the free zone’s customers, who range from international companies to small and medium enterprises as well as entrepreneurs. They will also have access to the free zone’s digital platform that allows them to contact customers for easier access to work, contracts and services.

The free zone is home to more than 1,800 companies in over 20 economic sectors, with multinationals making up more than 30 per cent of those businesses.

The free zone has already signed a preliminary agreement with Dubai Culture and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs to launch the new licence category.

A signing ceremony was attended by Mohammed Al Zarooni, executive chairman of the Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority, Mohamed Al Marri, general director of GDRFA and Hala Badri, director general of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

“This MoU supports our strategic plans for supporting the national economy by enhancing the role of commercial, investment and creative sectors in enhancing the emirate’s gross domestic product, and enables us to contribute to reinforcing Dubai’s position as a creative hub and an incubator for talent,” Mr Al Zarooni said.

The talent pass will enable Dubai’s business community to benefit from the expertise of global creatives, specialists and professionals, he added, saying it gives them the flexibility to access diverse business services at competitive prices.

The preliminary agreement creates the framework for co-operation to process licences, visas and other services that support innovators in establishing, operating and growing their business in the emirate, the statement said.


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The initiative follows Dubai’s strategy for the creative economy that was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, which seeks to double the contribution of the creative sector to Dubai’s gross domestic product.

It also aims to increase the emirate’s ability to attract creative individuals, investors and entrepreneurs, as well as local, regional and international investments.

DAFZ will evaluate and process applications for the talent pass and issue licences to practise commercial activities within the free zone. Dubai Culture will support the cultural visa for licence holders, encourage talent to join the free zone and tap regional and global markets through awareness and communication programmes, the statement said.

“Co-operation with public and private entities has always been a key priority within our strategy to promote cultural mobility and develop the emirate’s creative and knowledge-based sectors,” Ms Badri said.

The talent pass licence will enable Dubai’s business community to benefit from the expertise of global creatives, specialists and professionals
Mohammed Al Zarooni, executive chairman, Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority

The GDRFA will promote the free zone as a preferred destination for global businesses and the emirate of Dubai as a business-friendly environment that provides talented individuals with the opportunities to expand their reach to a large consumer market, the statement added.

“This supports Dubai’s plan to create an incubator ecosystem that provides opportunities for creative talent to develop themselves and expand their business,” Mr Al Marri said.

The talent pass is part of a portfolio of six licences offered by DAFZ, which includes the commerce licence for commercial activities such as import, export, re-export and general commerce activities.

The free zone also offers: an industrial licence for light manufacturing activities and packaging and assembly; an e-commerce licence for online trading of goods and services and a licence issued in partnership with the Department of Economic Development, allowing DAFZ-registered companies to apply for the department’s licence without the need for an office space outside the free zone. Dafz also issues a services licence for a range of service-based companies, according to the statement.

Updated: January 10, 2022, 7:34 AM