A dedicated scientist who helps make it rain in the UAE has been rewarded with permanent residency in the country.
Professor Linda Zou, noted for her research work in rain enhancement, said it was an "honour" to be recognised for her contribution.
In a move to position the UAE as an incubator of talents and skills, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship issued permanent residency visas to 2,500 scientists, researchers and investors on Tuesday.
"It is a good feeling when your work and effort as a scientist and researcher have been directly recognised by the government," Prof Zou told The National.
“Receiving such an honour proves the important role of science and research innovation when it comes to the advancement of our society and country.”
The long-term goal is to attract leading international scholars to the UAE to boost the talent pool of the nation.
Living in the Emirates for five years, Prof Zou, from the Department of Civil Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, said rewarding residents with "specialised backgrounds" is a smart move.
“Knowledge and innovation play a critical role in positioning the country with a competitive edge, regionally and globally.
“By doing this, the UAE government is supporting scientific research with the aim to develop a knowledge economy.
“I hope more academics strive to be a part of such rapid transformation and development."
In 2016, Prof Zou, from China, was one of three awardees to be offered a grant by the country's Research Programme for Rain Enhancement.
At that time she applied for a patent for the use of a titanium dioxide coating on salt particles. Her research proved that high levels of water vapour adsorption was possible when using the particles, which led to more effective cloud seeding methods.
With her long-term future now secured, she said her "innovative research in using nanomaterials for cloud seeding" will continue to gain momentum.
"My current project has come to an end... [the particles] are being used in field cloud seeding operations. If I get more funding, I will surely continue my research."
Fellow Khalifa University professor, Wesley Cantwell, from the UK, was also given a golden card residency visa on Tuesday.
“I am honoured to be among the first scientists to receive this award,” he said.
“Research often involves long-term horizons but having the option to stay in the UAE for a long period, build a research group and establish a strong research activity will be appealing to many internationally-recognised academics.”
Professor Ernesto Damiani, director of the Information Security Centre at Khalifa University, said it will inspire young talent to stay in the UAE to pursue their studies.
"Residency visas provide the longer horizon that has become essential for leaving a mark in complex research areas like Artificial Intelligence or life sciences," said the Italian-born professor.
“Longer term participation in UAE research on the part of innovators and scientists will surely bring higher returns.”
The permanent visa residency plan – known as the golden card scheme – was launched in May.
Also granted to heavyweight business investors who have lived in the UAE for years, benefits of the unique visa system were extended to few family members.
In June, Mohammed Rahman, chairman and managing director of Al Haramain Perfumes Group, was the first non-resident Bangladeshi to receive a golden card visa. To add celebration to the occasion, his brother and son also secured residency status with a 10-year visa as part of the UAE government drive.