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New residency regulation will result in UAE hospitality investor boom

Leading hospitality industry experts predict that United Arab Emirates’ hospitality sector will get a significant boost in the coming months from the recent announcement of a 10-year residency for investors and specialists. Ammar Kanaan, GM of Central Hotels, described the announcement as a “very big step in the right direction.” “It will attract more investors to invest in the UAE especially people who wish to invest in the hospitality business in terms of owning restaurants or hotels. It will also attract more people to visit and stay here – in particular professionals and students who can pursue their education without bothering about the visa status. We hope to see a broader spectrum of professionals included in the new scheme in future. It will be wonderful if hospitality professionals who have been staying for a long time in the country will be eligible for 10-year residency visas or given more time in between job transitions than the current 30 days,” he said.

Iftikhar Hamdani, cluster general manager, Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman and Ramada Beach Hotel Ajman and Wyndham Garden Ajman Corniche, said that the decision will make the UAE an even more attractive financial hub.

“This move is remarkably beneficial to the hospitality industry and the economy as whole, as it will further draw businesses ranging from global corporations to SMEs to conduct business in the UAE. The decision was announced at a right time, as the UAE prepares for the World Expo 2020, and will cement UAE’s long-term commitment to growth and innovation, beyond the expo years,” he said.

Shailesh Dash, founder and CEO of Al Masah Capital, said it is one of the most positive announcements in the last few years.

“We need to wait and see the law in details. The headlines are very positive and would help strengthen Dubai as the center of business, attracting investors and highly skilled manpower. It would benefit most sectors in the UAE, including real estate, manufacturing, financial services, hospitality and other important services sectors like healthcare, education, technology, etc.,” Dash told Khaleej Times.

Similarly, Mark Fernando, GM of Ramada Downtown Dubai, said: “This landmark initiative is poised to bring in significant growth to the UAE economy as more investors will start to enter the market, which will result in more employment opportunities, trade deals, and for us in the hospitality industry, this will generate increased tourist arrivals from all segments including leisure and business travels.”

The tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is expected to reach $350 billion by 2027, according to MENA Research Partners (MRP). The UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to grow at a CAGR of five per cent over the next 10 years. Currently, the UAE and KSA account for around 50 per cent of the Mena tourism market.

Leisure tourism generated approximately $115 billion to the region in 2017, with Dubai attracting 15 million visitors in 2017 and being ranked as the sixth most visited city in the world. The UAE is expected to account for 90 per cent of leisure tourism in the area following the opening of multiple leisure attractions.

Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP of operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, noted that the 10-year residency visa for certain professionals and students will definitely boost tourism, as much as it will help the growth of the respective sectors by attracting higher number of people.

“The market opportunity associated with this decision is massive with significant economic dividends including increase in repeat visits from relatives and friends of people residing in the UAE, growth of staycations, and greater spending, all of which will prove to be beneficial for hotels. From students and professionals perspective too – it will cut costs to visa applicants, both the direct monetary cost and indirect costs such as waiting time and travel expenses associated with obtaining visa which is often a deterrent for people to travel,” he said.

Samir Hamadeh, GM of Alpha Destination Management, added that in light of the new announcement, the travel industry will significantly benefit from the new regulations with a profound increase in tourism related to education and other defined sectors. “We believe that certain sections of tourism are primed for accelerated growth and this historic decision will open new opportunities for the entire industry.”

Koray Genckul, VP of human resources, Middle East and Africa, at Hilton, said that the move will not only reinforce the UAE as a primary destination for international investors and travelers, and boost the overall economy, but it will also make a significant impact in attracting and retaining talented professionals. “Tourism growth plans in the region mean that attracting, retaining and supporting the best people in a competitive market is crucial.”

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