New visas rules emerge in the GCC

DUBAI, 10 November 2021: New Expatriate retirement visas could boost tourism arrivals in GCC countries* say the organisers of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 2022.

“Providing expatriate workers, who qualify, with residence visas to stay beyond their working lives and the introduction of a series of other new visa options will be key for tourism and give a boost to attractions, activities and entertainment venues.”

The new expatriate retirement visa is one of the topics that will be addressed at the ‘Arival the in-destination voice half-day conference’ on 8 May 2022 as part of the conference components of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 2022, 8 to 11 May 2022.

It is estimated that there are currently over 35 million expatriate workers in the GCC countries, and there could be a sizeable proportion of the white-collar community that might want to retire in the GCC, even if it was only for a short period of time.

“With the means and time on their hands, it would be natural, not only for these retirees to travel, but also to receive family and friends. Airlines, hotels, destinations and other entertainment venues all benefit from this additional revenue stream which ordinarily might have been lost had the retirees returned to their home countries,” said Arabian Travel Market exhibition director ME Danielle Curtis.

“In addition, it is hardly a coincidence that two of Dubai’s top feeder markets in 2019, India with 2 million visitors and the UK, with 1.2 million visitors, have communities in the UAE, of 2.6 million and 120,000 respectively,” she added.

Spotting this potential, Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai), has already launched an initiative called ‘Retire in Dubai’, the first of its kind in the region, a practical framework with certain minimum financial requirements, whereby residents of Dubai who are approaching retirement age, can apply for a renewable, five-year retirement visa.

“If this initiative is a success, it is more than likely that other GCC nations will follow at some point. Retired expatriates would undoubtedly contribute significantly to the tourism sector, receiving family and friends and continuing to enjoy a quality lifestyle that they have become accustomed to,” added Curtis.

ATM 2022 will host dedicated conference summits covering aviation, hotels, sports tourism, retail tourism and a special hospitality investment seminar, 8 to 11 May 2022.

*The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, originally known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, is a regional, intergovernmental political and economic union that consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. (Wikipedia).