By Alicia Buller
Experts said high house prices in Britain could make it 'difficult' for them to return to their home base
The UAE’s decision to introduce a new five-year visa for expat retirees older than 55 could boost Dubai’s appeal as a retirement destination for British expats, according to experts.
Hugo Thistlethwayte, London-based head of international sales at property firm Savills, told Arabian Business: “This [new directive] will be extremely helpful, particularly for British expats who are coming to the end of careers spent in the Middle East or Far East.”
Thistlethwayte said that for those who have not retained a home in the UK, high house prices could make it ‘difficult’ for them to return to their home base.
The international sales head added: “Many will look for an alternative that allows them to continue to enjoy the lifestyle they have enjoyed throughout their careers.
“Dubai would be a good choice destination and we expect the visa extension to add to its appeal.”
Chris Slater-Jones, advisor at UK-based emigration financial advisory firm Montfort, is more circumspect about whether Dubai’s extended visa laws for pensioners will translate into increased retirement for Brits in the emirate.
He told Arabian Business: “The new laws may well entice people to purchase homes to qualify. This is, of course, if their contracts are extended and they are able to continue earning the income that bought them to the country in the first place."
Slater-Jones added: “It may not entice British nationals choosing Dubai as a retirement destination over places such as Spain given the visa is only for five years. A lot of Brits look to retire to warmer countries based around their families, or close to their families. For Dubai, they may have family there, however generally it is not seen as a permanent move for most, with the intention of moving back to Britain once their contract is over.”
Slater-Jones said the new visa laws ‘may entice some who may not have retired in Dubai to do so’.
“However, whether this will make up the 40 percent decline in expat properties by the over 50s, as cited by Property Finder research, time will tell.”
Faisal Durrani, partner – head of research at the UK office for property firm Cluttons, praised the Dubai government introducing semi-permanent residency options for expats.
“Longevity of residence for expats is going to be a game changer as the population’s historically transient nature," Durrani said.
“Expats that qualify are likely to give serious consideration to putting down roots in a country that has, until now, only been a temporary home.”
The government has stated that to qualify for the over-55s visa, expats must own a real estate investment of at least AED 2 million, have savings of more than AED 1 million, or prove income of at least AED 20,000 per month.
The new visa is expected to be introduced from next year.