The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is calling on highly trained Kenyans among them doctors and scientists to get its 10-year visa to support the development of its economy. Through a plan developed in late 2021 targeting foreigners globally, the UAE has set off an ambitious plan that may result in a fresh round of brain drain.

The long-term residence visa targets individuals in science and knowledge such as doctors and inventors, nurses and healthcare officials and creatives in the fields of culture and art or those in real estate. For investors, applicants must have a fund inside the UAE valued at not less than Ksh. 61.9 million (2 million dirhams). Entrepreneurs can also build a company with capital or partner in an existing firm by giving a contribution of not less than the same amount.

The visas will allow foreigners, their family members and two of their business partners to settle in UAE and enjoy the benefits of a permanent resident. The country will also be giving UAE passports under the same requirements.

Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said that Kenyans who will benefit must satisfy immigration conditions and undertake medical tests in UAE. “They are willing to facilitate visas for business people. They have a framework for a golden visa which is a 10-year multiple entry visa and several Kenyans have benefited from these arrangements and more could benefit,” said Ms. Maina during a High-Level Business Forum in UAE held by Kenya.

Currently, the country issues a work visa for two years which is renewable and mostly paid for by the employer. A survey by the Central Bank of Kenya shows that UAE is the third-largest source of remittances into the country after the US and UK. In July, UAE announced that Kenyan small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) setting up in Dubai will get a two-year rent-free workspace in is part of a new support programme ahead of the Expo 2020 Dubai.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has also revived the discussion on the possibility of A free trade agreement (FTA) between the countries to deal away with bottlenecks around logistics and tariffs. “We are keen on the establishment of an arrangement to simply trade between UAE and Kenya and Gulf countries. I guess the simple way is an FTA and I hope it is something the countries will agree on,” said the President at the Forum.