Indian supermarket tycoon M.A. Yusuf Ali this week became the first person to receive a UAE "gold visa", as the Gulf state offers its wealthiest expats permanent residency for a hefty price.
Ali is the founder of owner of supermarket chain Lulu, which employs more than 50,000 people in its 170 stores across the Gulf region.
This week, Ali collected a gold residence card in Abu Dhabi from Brigadier Saeed Salem al-Shamsi, making him the first of 6,800 investors to formally receive the prestigious permanent residency visa.
The business tycoon, who has lived in the UAE for more than 45 years, warmly welcomed the move after collecting his gold visa.
"(It is) A very proud and emotional moment in my life... I am sure this new Gold Card permanent residency scheme aimed at key investors, who have played a defining role in the nation building process, will further boost UAE's image as one of key investment and business global hubs as well as attract and retain new investors here," he said, according to The Economic Times.
The first people to receive the cards are those who have investments of more than 100 billion Emirati dirhams ($27 billion).
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Makhtoum announced the new scheme in May, in a bid to attract and retain wealthy investors.
"We launched a new 'Golden Card' system to grant permanent residency to investors and exceptional doctors, engineers, scientists and artists. The first batch of 6,800 investors with Dh100 billion worth of investments will be granted the 'Golden Card'," he tweeted last month.
"The permanent residency 'Golden Card' will be granted to exceptional talents and everyone who positively contributes to the success story of the UAE. We want them to be permanent partners in our journey. Residents are an indispensable part of our country."
Millions of expatriates in the UAE have been born in or lived in the country for decades but are subject to the kafala system, which ties foreign residents to their sponsors and they face potential punishments if they attempt to leave their employer before the end of their contract.
Copyright @ 2019 The New Arab.