'This is an unbelievable dream': BR Shetty granted 10-year UAE visa

The founder of NMC Healthcare and UAE Exchange hails UAE as a 'land of opportunity' after receiving long-term residency


Dr BR Shetty, founder of BRS Ventures, Finablr and NMC Health
(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Indian entrepreneur BR Shetty said being granted a ten-year visa for his contribution to the UAE is an 'unbelievable dream' come true.

The self-made billionaire, the founder of NMC Healthcare and financial technology start-up Finablr, received his long-term residency visa at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

He is the latest in a wave of businessmen across the Emirates to secure 10-year residencies after the government announced plans to reform visa policies in recognition of the achievements of professionals, academics and long-term investors.

He described the UAE as a “land of opportunity” that he was “forever committed to”.

“The respect I was given and the kind words they said about recognising my contributions makes me want to do more for this country,” said the 77-year-old.

“This is an unbelievable dream for me to be considered as one of their own. I came to this country for my survival and never imagined this would be possible when I came here.

"These visas show how the UAE is a place that accepts all and is a country of complete peace, tolerance and religious harmony. We are treated with the highest respect.”

Mr Shetty said his ties to the UAE extend beyond the visa he has been granted. His links date back to 1973 when he left his hometown Udupi in India’s southern Karnataka state for Abu Dhabi looking for a job.

Mr Shetty worked as a salesman to repay a loan he had taken out to pay for his sister’s wedding in India.

He then set up NMC, a healthcare provider that has grown to 200 facilities across 17 countries and Finablr, a financial services conglomerate that includes Travelex, Xpress Money and the UAE Exchange, the country’s largest remittance and foreign exchange business.

“I have never looked back and took all the opportunities this country gave me in the last 46 years,” he said.

“From arriving here on borrowed money, I have two companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. This country has always supported me. It is the reason for my success. The success of so many businessmen is all because of the confidence that the rulers and the royal family have in people who come here just to make a living.”

Mr Shetty is also listed among global philanthropists who have pledged half their wealth to charitable causes as part of The Giving Pledge created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The new visa programme has won praise from businessmen as a move that would strengthen the UAE economy by encouraging significant investors to plough in more capital, set up new industries and generate further employment.