Intel & DataMENA

UAE Golden Visa Approval Volume Doubles to 158,000 in 2023

Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) issued 158,000 golden visas in 2023, according to Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, the GDRFA’s director-general, Gulf News reports. This figure represents nearly double the 79,617 golden visas issued in 2022 and more than triple the 47,150 issued in 2021.

The UAE introduced the golden visa program in 2019 to encourage exceptional workers and foreign investors to establish deeper ties to the country. The visa is valid for 10 years and is available to various categories of individuals, including investors, entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, exceptional talents, outstanding students and graduates, property investors, humanitarian pioneers, and frontline workers.

The substantial increase in golden visa issuances comes as part of a drive to attract wealthy and/or talented individuals across various sectors, solidifying Dubai’s position as a global hub for business, innovation, and tourism.

Dubai’s real estate boom likely driving up golden visa figures

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While the UAE issues the golden visa to applicants across multiple categories, a noted increase in luxury property investment in the country is likely behind the surge in the golden visa’s application figures.

Russians have been at the forefront of Dubai’s high-end real estate boom. According to a report by the EU Tax Observatory and Norway’s Centre for Tax Research, Russian nationals have purchased an estimated US$6.3 billion worth of existing and in-development properties in Dubai since the escalation in the Russia/Ukraine war in early 2022. This figure represents a more than tenfold increase in Russian investment compared to pre-invasion levels.

Also, in early 2024, the UAE canceled the Dh1 million ($272,294) minimum down payment requirement for people to qualify for a golden visa through real estate investment. This change could be contributing to the rising popularity of the golden visa’s real estate route.

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Moustafa Daly AdministratorAuthorParticipant
Head of Digital , IMI

Moustafa Daly is the Head of Digital at IMI, based in Cairo.

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