UAE Rolls Out Plan to Invest in Economy, Liberalize Laws

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Abdulla bin Touq announcing new economic programs in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.
Abdulla bin Touq announcing new economic programs in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.Credit: Jon Gambrell / AP

The United Arab Emirates announced Sunday a major plan to stimulate its economy and liberalize stringent residency laws for expatriates, as the country seeks to overhaul its finances and attract foreign residents and capital.

The country’s plan to lure foreign talent reflects a growing contrast with the other oil-rich economies of the Persian Gulf that are becoming increasingly protectionist.

Although many of the Emirati ministers’ promised overhauls remained vague at a press conference, their intentions to boost spending after the devastation of the pandemic and loosen laws to draw more residents was clear.

Abdulla bin Touq, the minister of the economy, pledged that the Emirati government would pour some $13.6 billion into the economy over the next year. He laid out a raft of investment opportunities for countries to boost development by 10 percent in the coming years.

“We are confident that these projects in the support of investment will make (the UAE) one of the most competent economies in the world,” he proclaimed at the government’s first large in-person press conference since the pandemic.

The UAE for years since its independence has tied employment to residency status, giving employers outsized power and forcing people to immediately leave the country once they lost their jobs.

The new plans give residents more time to seek other jobs after termination, allow youth over age 15 to gain employment as they live with their parents, and enable widows and divorced couples to live longer without visa restrictions in the country.

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