The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added) has made “computer systems and software designing” part of the freelancer licence category in an attempt to boost the emirate's technology infrastructure.
The move is in line with the UAE government’s initiative to grant 100,000 golden visas to entrepreneurs and start-ups in the coding sector under the framework of the National Programme for Coders, Added said in a statement on Wednesday.
The move opens the possibility of attracting highly skilled programmers from all over the world, said Rashid Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, undersecretary of the department.
This decision paves the way for new information technology unicorns with the UAE stamp and will, eventually, contribute to the emirate’s digital economy transformation, he added.
The freelancer licence allows people to pursue self-employment activities without needing a licence from the free zone. They have the right to contract and work with companies in Abu Dhabi as well as the free zones.
Added recently released a decision regarding the issuance of permits under the freelancer licence and identified 52 economic activities, including IT consultations and web development, that belong in the category.
UAE citizens, residents and foreigners can apply for this licence, but they need to prove their relevant skills and submit certificates testifying to their education and professional experience.
Abu Dhabi has been enacting measures to support its economy and reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons.
Last month, Added said it was introducing a professional licence that would allow foreigners to have full ownership of businesses related to 604 activities as the emirate seeks to attract more investors and boost its economy.
Abu Dhabi’s economy is expected to grow between 6-8 per cent over the next two years, driven by the oil sector, government spending, financial services and foreign direct investment, Mohammed Al Shorafa, chairman of the emirate's Department of Economic Development, said this year.
The Abu Dhabi government is keen to support the digital transformation in key sectors and support national efforts to establish 1,000 mega companies in the IT sector in the next five years, Mr Al Blooshi said.
The government-led Projects of the 50 initiative aims to attract 100 coders every day to the country’s workforce and achieve the highest percentage of women coders per capita in the world in the next five years.
Besides offering long-term visas to technology entrepreneurs and professionals from around the world, the Emirates recently signed pacts with companies such as Google and Amazon to train 100,000 programmers and coders over the next five years.
Last week, it also launched the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network that will grow 500 national companies through the application of advanced technology over five years.