Hundreds of Dubai medics granted 10-year golden visa by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid

Healthcare workers in Dubai were given visa in appreciation of work to protect public against Covid-19

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More than 200 doctors in Dubai have been granted a 10-year golden residency visa for their work to protect the emirate against Covid-19.

The order was made on Wednesday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in appreciation for the healthcare workers' "selfless dedication to caring for infected patients".

In a separate announcement, authorities said holders of expired visit and residency visas would be given a three-month grace period exempting them from fines, starting from May 18.

Sheikh Mohammed said the efforts of medical, nursing and administrative staff across the UAE have been crucial to containing the spread of the virus and providing the highest level of care to patients.

The 212 doctors selected to receive the golden visas have various special skills.

They were chosen because of their work with Covid-19 patients across hospitals in Dubai.

"The UAE will successfully overcome the crisis thanks to the strong solidarity between various segments of UAE society in the face of challenges," the Dubai Media Office said.

Humaid Al Qatami, director general of the Dubai Health Authority, thanked Sheikh Mohammed on behalf of the medics.

Mr Al Qatami said the gesture would boost morale and encourage the medics to continue providing the "highest quality of medical care for patients infected by the virus".

He echoed Sheikh Mohammed's sentiments by praising the efforts of local and expatriate doctors who had done themselves proud.

"Everyone has shown a tremendous amount of flexibility by working for long hours, and even days without interruption, to curb the spread of the virus and heal those who are sick, without fear of contracting the virus themselves," Mr Al Qatami said.

The golden card is a long-term residency scheme announced by Sheikh Mohammed last year.

It aims to boost the investment of entrepreneurs, businessmen, doctors, foreign investors and other specialists.

Sheikh Mohammed said last May that 6,800 investors and residents from 70 countries were chosen to receive the visa.

The fee-free grace period for expired visit and residency visas was announced at a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

It applies to visas that expired after early March.

Penalties would start stacking up after August 18.

"We urge all expats to register at the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) portal to avail of the grace period that shall start on May 18 up to three months," said Brigadier Khamis Al Kaabi, a FAIC spokesman, on Wednesday.

"All breaches related to expired Emirates IDs and labour cards will also be cancelled," said.

It was not yet clear whether the announcement superseded a previous decision extending the validity of expired visas until the end of December.