Minister outlines vision to attract global talent to 'live, work and retire' in UAE

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, tells 'The National' overseas workers remain key to the country's growth

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said attracting foreign talent remained key to the UAE's plans to accelerate economic growth. Antonie Robertson / The National    
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The UAE is developing a long-term vision to attract global talent to live, work and retire in the country, a senior minister said.

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said recruiting skilled overseas workers remained crucial to accelerating economic growth.

He said an "ecosystem" was being put in place to bolster the UAE's position as a prime destination.

Remote working opportunities and long-term residency schemes were key to the strategy, he said.

We aim to build an ecosystem where foreign talents are incentivised to stay for long-term durations ... retire in the country and build roots for their children here

"Skilled human capital lies at the heart of economic growth and competitiveness, and this is especially true in the era of the knowledge economy," Dr Al Zeyoudi told The National.

"It is therefore of vital importance to attract foreign talents to complement our national homegrown talents and drive our knowledge economy.

"We aim to increase the share of knowledge workers and skilled human capital of our overall population and workforce, in order to satisfy the current and future demand of the UAE jobs sector.”

UAE a growing hub for international talent

The UAE has already unveiled a series of initiatives to encourage workers around the world to relocate.

In March, the Cabinet announced the introduction of a residence permit for remote workers.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said the residency permit meant that "any employee anywhere in the world can reside in the UAE to practice work remotely, even if the company is not present in the country".

In January, Sheikh Mohammed set out plans to allow non-Emiratis to obtain UAE citizenship for the first time.

Under the scheme, skilled professionals would be nominated by government or royal court officials.

Hassan Arafat, director of the Centre for Membranes and Advanced Water Technology at Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, told The National of his pride at being among the first residents to secure citizenship.

A 10-year golden card visa scheme was also launched in May 2019 to give exceptional workers and foreign investors the opportunity to remain in the country on a long-term basis.

“The UAE has long recognized the importance of foreign talent to its economic growth, and in fact has long been an appealing destination for aspiring and experienced foreign talented individuals,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

“Our policies and programmes will contribute to building an ecosystem that attracts global talent.

"Facilitated immigration pathways, enhanced social insurance features, and increased workforce flexibility and mobility are some of the critical elements of this ecosystem.

"We will also work with our partners to enhance other important elements such as social cohesion and integration, education affordability, healthcare accessibility, as well as factors that relate to the regulatory, business and market environment.”

However, retaining talent in the UAE is an area they want to “specifically” improve on, the minister said.

“We aim to build an ecosystem where foreign talents are incentivised to stay for long-term durations, partake in the social fabric, contribute to the economy, retire in the country and build roots for their children here,” he said.

What talent does the UAE want to attract?

“For the UAE, talented individuals are those with the ability to contribute to and compete in their profession of choice; thereby contributing to the socio-economic development of the UAE and to the advancement of its national goals and aspirations," the minister said.

"They include specialist talents, innovative, research and creative talents, entrepreneurial talents and all other segments of knowledge workers. Talent comes in many forms, and we welcome talented individuals from all backgrounds and nationalities.”