Frontline doctors co-ordinating the Covid-19 response at the height of the pandemic said the offer of 10-year golden visas was a huge moral boost.
Doctors are among those to be offered qualification for the UAE's long-term visa system from next month in an extension of the initiative first introduced last year.
The scheme aims to attract more high-skilled foreign workers to continue their careers in the country and invest in the nation’s future.
Medics said the decision was a moral booster for frontline workers, many of whom continue to face daily challenges.
Dr Adel Al Sisi, a critical care consultant at Prime Hospital in Garhoud, Dubai, was one of those whose facility was almost overwhelmed by positive cases at the height of the pandemic. Just a few months later the hospital was declared Covid-free.
“This is a great initiative and shows appreciation for medical staff working in the UAE, as we have always had from the higher authorities here,” he said.
“They know the work we have been doing to keep the community safe during the pandemic and how difficult that has been. We are so happy to have this opportunity.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the nationwide move to include more professions and academics in the golden visa initiative on Sunday.
Scientists and data experts will also now be able to easily secure long-term residency. Others added to the list initially reserved for the most exclusive are all PhD holders and people with backgrounds in computer and electrical engineering and biotechnology.
Those with artificial intelligence and programming expertise can also now benefit from the new system. Meanwhile doctors said the move would inspire healthcare professionals to continue to raise standards and give more job security.
“This is an excellent initiative by the leaders of the UAE and will motivate us to do better,” said Dr Iajaz Ahmed, medical director at NMC Specialty Hospital in Al Ain.
“At a time when worldwide there is uncertainty regarding employment due to the pandemic, this provides a sense of security to retain foreign talent in the country.
“Medical professionals will look at this as a recognition for their hard work.”
In July, 90 doctors at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital in Dubai were awarded 10-year visas in recognition of their work during the pandemic.
Dr Vasu Kumar, a specialist ophthalmologist at NMC Royal Hospital, Dubai, said the offer to stay in the country was recognition of the life-saving work done up and down the country under challenging circumstances.
“Considering doctors for a 10-year golden visa will boost our moral as front-liners,” he said.
“Many of us have been working tirelessly during the global pandemic, so this is a great opportunity on offer.”
Other medics said the outbreak had united the healthcare profession to work against a common cause like never before.
“We doctors and all other medical staff will always join together to face the obstacles imposed by the Covid-19 virus and other future pandemics,” said Dr Mohamed Selim, an Egyptian consultant orthopaedician in Dubai.
“Healthcare professionals will always remain the first line of defence and so it is important to enjoy security and prosperity in our second homeland here.
“The UAE rulers and government are accustomed to honouring creative and distinguished people in every field, especially in health care.
“This donation will give us all a strong push to make more sacrifices.”