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UAE visa extension: Too little, too late?
The UAE is increasing investor’s residency visa validity period, but will it be enough to rectify the damage? Eva Fernandes certainly doesn’t think so.
June 29, 2011 4:05 by kippreport
Stop the press! The UAE has changed the parameters surrounding property investor visas…again.
The UAE has extended visas for property investors to a whopping three years from six months. Of course the current visa is granted to investors of property worth more than Dh1 million. The local press has a field day with all of this, with good ol’ Emirates 24|7 publishing an article titled “Real estate industry basks in glow of new property visa ruling.” Nice.
Yes sure, the new 3-year residency visa is a welcome and certainly refreshing change especially in comparison to the existing 6-month residency visa for property investors or the 2-year visa companies will soon grant their employees. But, you will excuse Kipp if we stifle our excitement for the UAE’s track record with property investor residency visas are anything but encouraging.
So when we read about this change, we couldn’t help but remember the story of one Dr Horst Hoeller who bought a 3-bedroom flat in Jumeirah Beach Residence in 2003 purely with the intention of retiring in Dubai. In October last year, when he went to renew his visa at TECOM, he got a shock when authorities informed him his residency visa was no longer valid and that his best option was a multiple-entry six month visa that came with a fee.
“I’ve been a retired man for the past four years. I bought this property thinking it would be my ticket to stay here. If the rules had changed, I should have been informed,” was the particular quote from Dr. Hoeller that really got to Kipp.
Kipp is sure that the authorities are fully aware that revoking and revamping investor residency visa on a whim does have serious repercussions. But Kipp wonders if Dr. Hoeller’s case is just the exception or the rule when the visa was previously changed to a shorter term. Dr. Hoeller was an investor that they believed in the Dubai dream, only to be left high and dry and not to mention in debt.
Jerking the carpet from under the investors’ feet has so made it difficult for property investors to regain confidence in the stability of the market. The hope is that the authorities realise just how badly investors’ confidence is shaken and to regulate the market accordingly. It can only be a win-win situation from there.
So yes, extending the visa to three years is a step in the right direction. But it is just a baby step. What property investors really need is to get a sense of security back. And sure, that does take time to instill, but it is encouraging to see progressive steps taken by the authorities.