By Ahmed Alkhoshaibi
Opinion: UAE government continues to work to find new ways of boosting the local economy, bringing in foreign direct investment, and encouraging global companies to come and set up shop here, writes Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, CEO of developer ARADA
New rules that have been announced this week by the UAE Cabinet have the potential to have an incredibly positive long-term effect on what is already the most progressive country in the region.
For developers such as ARADA, the changes are proof of what we have always known – that the government continues to work to find new ways of boosting the local economy, bringing in foreign direct investment, and encouraging global companies to come and set up shop here.
In Sharjah specifically, new rules that have only just been introduced allow investors to buy property in the Emirate without a UAE residency visa have been a significant boost to the market.
While the details of the legislation, which is expected to be enforced in the third quarter of this year, are still unclear, there can be no doubt that they represent a sea-change in the way that the UAE will be viewed by its current and future expatriate communities.
In particular, the decision to provide 10-year visas to certain sections of the expatriate population will provide them with confidence in their long-term prospects in the UAE, which in turn should encourage them to consider investing in property here.
The best students graduating from local universities will be granted permission to stay in the country for longer, a move that should result in more qualified employees entering the local workforce, providing a new and much-needed trajectory for talent recruitment.
For entrepreneurs, the new rules provide a double boost, in addition to access to highly sought-after fresh graduates.
On the one hand, the long-term residency encourages them to choose cities like Sharjah or Dubai as the place in which to set up and expand their businesses, giving the UAE yet another edge in the competition with rival nations around the world.
On the other, the 100% ownership structure reduces barriers to entry for would-be entrepreneurs (including costs) and will enable greater foreign direct investment. If anyone stands to benefit, start-ups and entrepreneurs will see the most immediate enhancement of commercial opportunities here in the UAE.
For Sharjah, the new rules come at an opportune time as the Emirate undergoes a remarkable transformation.
The government budget has yet again hit a record high this year, thanks to increased spending in a number of sectors, including infrastructure. A decision in 2014 to allow all nationalities to buy property in the Emirate is bearing fruit, with real estate transactions rising 20% last year on the year before, to a value of almost AED30bn.
The number of companies setting up shop in Sharjah rose 7% in 2017 to just under 70,000 – with the vast majority of these being small and medium-sized businesses.
At ARADA, our goal is build sustainable communities that will help Sharjah’s transformation by providing the future population of the Emirate with incredible destinations to live, work and play. At Aljada, our largest project, our business park contains 500,000 square metres of space that will be a unified district for entrepreneurs, small businesses and larger multinationals alike.
It will also give start-ups proximity and access to larger, more established entities, thereby allowing for more B2B opportunities. We see the new residency and ownership laws as being absolutely complementary to our mission to help develop the local economy.
Lastly, these rules can only encourage developers like ARADA to invest even more heavily in the local economy by setting up new communities, helping not only our supply chain, but residents and private-sector companies, supporting the government’s mission to increase the viability of the UAE as an investment destination.
Ahmed Alkhoshaibi is CEO of developer ARADA