New 10-year visa makes India's Aster Healthcare founder feel part of UAE's growth

Dr Azad Moopen moved to Ajman 30 years ago and has since founded a healthcare group

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - October 30th, 2017: Dr. Azad Moopen (Founder Chairman & Managing Director-Aster DM Healthcare group) speaks on a panel at the India-UAE Partnership Summit 2017. Monday, October 30th, 2017 at The Armani Hotel, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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A top Indian businessman is the latest person to be granted a 10-year residence visa in the UAE.

Dr Azad Moopen, founding chairman of the Aster DM Healthcare group, joins two other businessmen who received the visa over the past few days.

He said the special status bestowed upon him and other long-term investors made him feel like an integral part of a country he considers his own.

“It’s like being a citizen here,” said Dr Moopen, who moved to the UAE more than 30 years ago.

“We already have significant involvement here but this makes you feel as if the country is yours.

“I have spent as much time in the UAE as in my motherland, and my children and wife have spent more time in the UAE than in India,” said Dr Moopen, who began his career as a general physician in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

He moved to the UAE in 1987 to work with an Indian doctor at a clinic in Ajman.

Dr Moopen, 65, is now the chairman of a group that operates 24 hospitals, 116 clinics and a chain of pharmacies in the Middle East, India and Asia. Three additional hospitals are set to open in Jebel Ali, Quasis and Muhaisnah in Dubai and a fourth in Sharjah.

He said the long-term visa will encourage others to invest in and commit to the country.

“Dubai is the springboard of our achievements, so this is a fulfilling moment for my wife and me because we feel recognised,” he said.

"We are so proud, happy and thankful to the rulers for conceiving of this special residency status for those who are invested here. This definitely gives an investor more stability when looking at the country. Earlier, when the residency was for two or three years, you know you have to go through the process of getting it again. But this brings more commitment and confidence.”

Dr Moopen and his wife, Naseera Azad, received their visas on Sunday along with their invitation to the wedding reception to celebrate the marriage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and his brothers, Sheikh Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Ahmed this Thursday.

“Receiving the invitation was like icing on the cake,” said Dr Moopen.

BR Shetty, founder of the NMC Healthcare and Finablr, a financial services network, will receive his 10-year residence visa on Sunday.

“I’m very happy to have been identified for this new residency,” said Mr Shetty, who worked as a salesman when he arrived in Dubai in 1973 and now has two companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.

“It is a proud moment. This gives great confidence to old-timers like me and it is important for new comers to know that investors are being recognised.”

At the weekend, another Dubai businessman Rizwan Sajan, founder and chairman of the Danube Group, a manufacturing and real estate enterprise, was also granted a 10-year residency visa.

The UAE Cabinet had announced a host of changes to the country’s residency policy last year. These introduced five and 10-year visas for leading professionals, academics and investors.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, recently said 6,800 investors with an estimated net worth of Dh100 billion had been chosen to receive a permanent or 'golden card' residency visa.