Initiatives target foreign investment and residency in UAE

The UAE has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage foreign investment and residency in the country, by freeing up rules around sporting participation and property investment, and launching a new radio station in English.

The changes to rules around  participation in sport were announced by the President of the UAE General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare Major-General Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi.

The change is not expected to substantially affect sports where foreign participation has driven local competition – such as rugby, cricket and ice hockey.

But it is in popular local sports such as basketball, volleyball, handball and football – the national sport – where it is likely to have an impact.

The move to integrate competition was quickly welcomed by the UAE Football Association.

“Adoption and implementation of these regulations will draw up a new policy in the UAE sports system,” said UAE Football Association President Marwan Bin Galita. “Clubs have to think seriously about making use of (foreign players) in local and foreign engagements.”

The Football Association has taken steps to ensure foreign residents are able to participate in competition alongside Emiratis.  Foreigners involved in the sport believe it’s a good result.

“I think it’s fantastic for football,” said local football coach and trainer Chris Brown.

“There’s an abundance of talent here that’s not been able to play at a standard that continues their development.”

In Real Estate, moves to allow more foreign investment have been welcomed by property developers.

The Emirate of Sharjah has relaxed the visa requirements on property investment in Tilal City.

It means non-Arabs will no longer need a UAE residency visa to be able to purchase property in the Emirate.

“This is a good opportunity for a lot of companies looking for a good and secure return,” said Khalifa Al Shaibai, the director-general of Tilal Properties.

It builds on a 2014 initiative that allowed foreigners to purchase property in Sharjah if they held a residency permit.

Foreign purchasers are able to buy properties on a 100-year renewable lease, while property for Arab buyers is on a freehold basis.

Also in Sharjah, the first English-language radio station has launched – aiming to serve both the foreign market, but also people from the UAE with an interest in the language.

“Our goal is to be a totally inclusive, feel-good station, bringing the listeners positive, upbeat stories of real people,” said Mohammad Yanez, the head of the station to be known as Pulse 95.

Sharjah Media Council chairman Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi said the launch of the station was an exciting new venture for the Sharjah Media Corporation.

“We have seen a real need to fill the gap in English language output,” he said.  “Particularly when so many of the emirate’s residents use English in their day-to-day lives and increasingly conduct language in English.”

The station will provide a Top-40 music format in an acoustic format.