UAE visas: Foreign university students now able to sponsor families

Change to attract more students from abroad as UAE Cabinet adopts a number of new policies

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International students at universities in the UAE will be able to sponsor their families and bring them over for the duration of their courses.

On Sunday, the UAE Cabinet approved the move, which will likely encourage more students to travel to the Emirates for undergraduate and postgraduate study.

"We approved changes in the residency and nationality procedures in the country by enabling foreign students to bring their families whenever they have the financial means," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Vice President, said the country had become a "regional education destination" with more than 77 universities attracting tens of thousands of students each year.

The decision was one among many made during the Cabinet's first meeting of the year, in Abu Dhabi.

Work continues and the process of national recovery will not stop

Led by Sheikh Mohammed, the ministers approved a federal government public debt strategy to build a bond market in the local currency.

At present, individual emirates, such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, are issuers of international debt. The UAE has no debt of its own but is planning to begin selling federal bonds soon.

On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed said the goal behind the new strategy was to "revitalise the financial and banking sector in the country".

The Cabinet also agreed to adopt a circular economy policy to achieve "clean production, sustainable transportation and consumption, and efficient waste management" while still preserving the country's environment and generating new economic opportunities. They formed a federal Circular Economy Council to see these plans through.

A new media strategy for the country was also approved to maintain the global interest generated in the UAE last year.

Sheikh Mohammed said 2020 was a "pivotal" year for the Emirates drawing international attention. He said maintaining this would require a "different way of thinking and new interaction."

He said the UAE ranked 18th worldwide in indicators of its soft power and 11th globally in influence. "[The UAE] is classified among the most active countries in the international arena," he said.

"Our goal is to communicate more with people and convey our story to the world in new formats."

Finally, the Cabinet approved the formation of the Emirates Tourism Council with the aim of boosting tourism, co-ordinating federal marketing efforts and supporting local tourism projects.

Sheikh Mohammed said the "World's Coolest Winter" campaign, launched last month, "highlighted the beauty of working as a single national tourism team".

The 45-day nationwide domestic tourism campaign invited residents and Emiratis to explore the hidden gems of the seven emirates.

He said the aim of the new tourism council would be to encourage young people to benefit from tourism sector opportunities across the country.

After a busy first meeting of the year, Sheikh Mohammed said they were just getting started.

"Work continues and the process of national recovery will not stop," he said, of the UAE's plans of an economic bounce-back since the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Preserving health will remain the priority above everything and our society will end this year with greater power and more beautiful energy towards the future, God willing."