The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday it will grant 6,800 foreign investors permanent residency under a new "Golden Card" system after they invested a combined 100 billion dirhams ($27 billion) in the Gulf state.
Typically, foreigners have renewable visas valid for only a few years, often tied to employment, but the government announced plans last year to ease its visa policy.
"We launched a new 'Golden Card' system to grant permanent residency to investors and exceptional doctors, engineers, scientists and artists," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, said in a tweet on Tuesday.
"The first batch of 6,800 investors with 100 billion dirhams worth of investments will be granted the 'Golden Card.'"
In May last year the Gulf Arab state announced plans to grant long-term permits to investors, senior scientists and entrepreneurs, in an effort to support its economy and real estate market, which had been hurt by low oil prices, but had not mentioned the Golden Card.
Economic growth has slowed since a slump in oil prices in 2014 and white-collar professionals are seeing stagnant or even falling employment.
"The permanent residency 'Golden Card' will be granted to exceptional talents and everyone who positively contributes to the success story of the UAE," Sheikh Mohammed said his tweet.
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Last year, the UAE cabinet also approved providing renewable 10-year visas to foreigners with investments in the UAE of at least 10 million dirhams, if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 percent of the total. Investors can bring spouses and children into the country.
It also approved five-year residency to owners of UAE real estate worth at least 5 million dirhams.