Until recently, the United Arab Emirates was a country of young people: students, athletes, specialists in the field of medicine, digital technologies, service personnel. The state has created attractive conditions for work and study in order to concentrate the intellectual and creative elite on its territory, which would help bring the country to the world leaders in terms of technology development, quality of life, service, and well-being. The main condition for hired workers was unconditional return to their homeland after the end of the contract or upon retirement.
The situation changed when a new program was launched in 2018, which opened the possibility for pensioners to obtain a visa to live in the UAE.
“Retire in Dubai” program
This is a global project of the Government of Dubai, launched on the initiative of the Emir of the Principality, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is both Vice President and Prime Minister. Now that Dubai can rightfully be considered a global monetary, economic, industrial and multicultural center, it’s time to demonstrate that the emirate is also the best place in the world for elderly people to live. There is still something to work on here, because in the world ranking of cities for the quality of life, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are already in 85th and 94th places, respectively. Interestingly, they are separated from the cities in the top ten by too high a living wage.
In addition to the main and, as always, ambitious goal, the program has another, not so obvious to the public, but more pragmatic and important for the further development of the country. According to the plan of the ruler of the principality, the provision of pension visas will help attract even more investment. After all, pensioners will come with their savings, and then relatives and friends will come to them, which will significantly increase tourist, and therefore investment flows. Dubai should have an image of a city ideal for elderly people of all nationalities to live in.
Now about 170 thousand expats over the age of 55 live on the territory of the Principality, i.e. those who are legally considered pensioners and who until recently were forced to leave the country.According to demographers, in just 30 years (by 2050), approximately 18 million people in the Persian Gulf region will reach the age mark of 60 years. This fact has to be taken into account when drawing up plans for the long-term development of the state for the coming decades.
The “Retire in Dubai” program has been in effect since 2020. Initially, it applied only to persons who had lived in the emirate for a long time, became residents and reached retirement age here. But now elderly citizens of other countries who have never been to the Principality can become applicants for a residence permit. Having completed the documents, they receive a visa for five years with the possibility of its extension.
Holders of a residence permit are entitled to use all standard services available to citizens. Holders of a long-term pension visa are equal in status to residents of the UAE. This gives the right to travel, cross the border at any time, as well as to be absent from the territory of the state for as long as necessary. Non-residents do not have such a right: the terms of their absence are regulated.
Benefits of the pension program in the UAE
The program was developed taking into account seven main criteria that distinguish the quality of life of an elderly person in a modern metropolis:
- Lifestyle. Representatives of more than 200 nationalities live in Dubai. Local residents have long overcome the barrier of intolerance towards foreigners, especially non-Muslims, and behave extremely tolerant. The main thing is not to violate local traditions and customs. For living, you can choose real estate for every taste and budget: from luxury penthouses and villas in elite areas to small apartments, which in terms of amenities differ little from expensive housing.
- Service. The comfort of the life of elderly people implies that there is no need to do current household chores, solve everyday issues (cooking, washing dishes, washing, cleaning). These problems have been solved here: pensioners have access to any services related to maintaining household well-being. Hundreds of companies specialize in partial or full maintenance of private residences.
- Recreation, cultural leisure, entertainment. Dubai is the recognized capital of gastronomy, beach holidays and shopping. For representatives of the older generation, special resort areas are organized here, where you can just relax or get treated, SPA salons will help you look great, and you can pass the time pleasantly in one of hundreds of museums, exhibitions, the opera house, where concerts are held with the participation of world pop stars and classical music genre. Oceanariums are open for lovers of marine nature, for those who like to spend time outdoors, beautiful parks and squares are laid out, long embankments are equipped, along which you can walk not only on foot, but also riding a bicycle.
- Sports leisure. A healthy lifestyle is not just an advertising inscription in a tourist prospectus. Thousands of sports complexes, fitness centers, small gyms, outdoor playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis, golf and yacht clubs are open in the UAE. All this is available for people of all age categories. Professional trainers select individual training programs taking into account physical capabilities and carefully monitor compliance with safety regulations during sports activities. If a person is used to walking in the evenings, jogging or cycling, he will find a lot of equipped paths with magnificent views.
- Healthcare. The level of medical care for the older generation is the main criterion for a comfortable life. With age, health requires more attention, control and help: the elderly are more likely to get sick, they have chronic diseases. The Emirates ranks 34th in the world ranking in terms of the level of medical care. For those entering, regardless of age, it is mandatory to purchase medical insurance, the cost of which depends on the list of services included. However, for customers over 60 years old, many insurance companies provide a number of preferential services. This can be emergency hospitalization, outpatient or inpatient treatment, home care and even organ transplantation. Also, for pensioners, the Department of Tourism and Commercial Marketing, together with insurance companies, has developed special medical insurance that includes a basic set of services, but at the same time affordable.
- Air service. Elderly foreigners do not like to sit still. They are active and very fond of traveling. Dubai Airport is the largest hub of international air traffic in the Middle East, connecting this geographical point with almost any other. The highest quality of airline service, the availability of destinations, the accuracy of schedules allow you to easily make the right flight at any time and meet with children, relatives, friends or just visit places that have long been dreamed of.
- Inheritance management. For those who have it, the issue of reliable protection remains an important one. When moving to a foreign country, you need to be sure that if anything happens, real estate, cash, and other valuables will not fall into the wrong hands. The Dubai International Financial Center has developed a special package of services that will allow you to secure your fortune by correctly drawing up, executing and registering a will.
How do I become a member of the Retire in Dubai program?
We should immediately note that the project was launched to attract wealthy foreigners, since the country has a very high living wage, and also because one of its tasks is to attract additional investments.
The applicant must be over 55 years old and have a documented pensioner status. This may be a certificate from the employer from the last place of work, where it is said that the person worked for him and quit in connection with retirement, or an official certificate of state agencies, which indicates the total length of service and confirmation of retirement status.
If a person has not worked anywhere, he cannot participate in the program. For example, a housewife does not fit the conditions, but she can pass as a dependent of the main applicant. Together with the applicant, only spouses and minor children fall under the program. Other relatives, including parents, cannot become participants.
The main criterion is financial viability, which implies the presence of at least one of the conditions:
- permanent income from 20 000 AED per month or 240 000 – per year, confirmed by a document indicating the name of the person who pays the money to whom and in what time frame;
- opening a term deposit in the emirate for at least 3 years with a deposit from 1 million AED;
- purchase of real estate (one or more objects) in the amount of at least 2 million AED without a loan.
A combined option is also provided, when the applicant has real estate and financial resources on a fixed deposit and these investments in total are estimated at more than 2 million AED.
Package of documents
- Statement of the established sample.
- A copy of the passport of the applicant and his family members who are dependent.
- A copy of the marriage certificate.
- Copies of the visa and Emirates ID of all persons specified in the application (this item is only for residents).
- Confirmation of work experience (letter from the pension fund, any similar service, from the employer from the last place of work). The document indicates the number of years worked.
- Confirmation of financial viability:
- if the basis for submitting an application is a monthly or annual income, then you need a letter from an organization providing payments, for example, a Pension Fund or the last employer, as well as a stamped bank statement on the status of the account for the last six months;
- if the basis for granting a visa – a bank account for one million dirhams, then this must be confirmed by a corresponding letter;
- if it is a question of buying real estate, the applicant must provide a paper stating that the premises are located in Dubai, fully purchased, ready for operation, and its cost is at least 2 million dirhams;
- if the applicant uses a combined option with an account and real estate, then documents will be required in both directions.
Procedure for obtaining
- Send the application form with scans of the required documents to e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Pay the state fee for submitting the application. The invoice will be sent to your email.
- Wait for the application to be considered. Usually this stage takes no more than 15 days. Sometimes the inspection authorities may request additional documents. At this stage, information about financial viability is checked.
- If everyone is in the order and the applicant’s request is satisfied, then he and everyone who is included in the application are sent for a medical examination. This is a mandatory procedure for all visitors aimed at the non-proliferation of dangerous diseases on the territory of the state: HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. After the medical examination, each participant is obliged to buy insurance.
- If the documents are in order and the state of health is satisfactory, then the relevant authority issues an identity card and opens a visa, and the applicant remains to repay the remaining registration costs.
How much does a pension visa cost?
The fee for consideration of the application is 888 dirhams. In addition, each family member will have to pay 3714.75 dirhams for registration, including:
- 753 – for medical examination (this is not medical insurance);
- 573 – for 5-year Emirates ID;
- 2288.75 – 5-year visa;
- 100 – commission for services.
How to extend a pension visa?
If, after five years of residence in Dubai, a pensioner over 60 still meets the conditions for granting a residence permit, then the residence permit is automatically extended.
Medicine for the older generation in the Emirates
Medicine, like other sectors of the economy, was created from scratch in just a couple of decades. Since initially there was nothing to reconstruct, all medical and rehabilitation centers, polyclinics were designed and built taking into account modern standards. Even the environmental friendliness of building materials was taken into account. New clinic buildings were filled with the most advanced diagnostic and research equipment. Only highly qualified doctors and nurses work in these medical institutions, 90% of whom are foreigners. Only a small number of staff are local residents. But they also studied and interned at leading universities and medical clinics in the world.
There are 45 public and 98 private clinics in the city, as well as several non-profit charitable organizations “Walk-in” providing medical services. All of them are located in the Department of Health Management. In addition to the usual medical organizations in the city, there is a whole dedicated area – Dubai Healthcare City, equipped for health tourism and rehabilitation of patients after illnesses, injuries, operations. Maintaining the health of the inhabitants of the Principality (both local and foreign) is one of their main tasks of the leadership, since health is an integral component of a high quality of life. The government invests huge funds in the development of medicine, attracts experienced doctors of various fields, but the main thing is to ensure the availability of treatment and medical care for all categories of the population.
When deciding to move to the UAE at an advanced age, you don’t have to worry about the fact that there will be no conditions for the treatment of chronic diseases here. For elderly residents, there are different types of insurance that cover most of the medical procedures, and if this is not enough, you can count on paying for treatment in foreign clinics and flights.
Only local health insurance is valid in Dubai, which is purchased when applying for a residence permit. There are public and private insurances. It is better to buy insurance from a private medical institution, since public ones primarily serve the citizens of their country.
Urgent medical care is provided free of charge. The doctor has no right to refuse such. However, if you need complex long-term treatment or surgery, you can not do without insurance.
If you take any medications on a regular basis, then before you arrive, find out if they are allowed in the territory of the emirate, and if not, what analogues are allowed.
Is it possible to work in retirement?
The restriction can only be a state of health that does not allow you to work normally. But if a person is healthy, full of energy and has rare skills and experience in his profession, then he can continue working in retirement. To do this, you will need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHRA).
In the UAE, it is allowed to retire at the age of 55 with 20 years of work experience, the bar is set for hired workers – 60 years, for employees of private enterprises – 65 years. MOHRA issues a permit to continue working for 5 years, if necessary, it can be extended. There is only one condition: if the applicant wants to work after the age of 65, he must pay the state a commission of about 5000 dirhams.
How do pensioners live in Dubai and other UAE cities?
Representatives of the older generation in the UAE are the most respected segment of the population. They have all the amenities that you can imagine! Here they lead a calm and dignified life, devoid of worries about tomorrow, about everyday problems or health: specialized services work to solve these issues. Pensioners live in spacious, well-appointed apartments, and devote all their free time to their interests and hobbies: they go to exhibitions, concerts, play sports or hobbies that they didn’t have enough time for before, travel a lot.
Today’s Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. The most serious crimes here are thefts of credit cards and wallets. Cybercrime is a great danger: the creation of fake websites, the sending of malicious emails and messages, other types of Internet fraud, but special services are struggling with this. The police carefully monitor the observance of order on the streets 24 hours a day: almost every piece of land is taken under video surveillance. The Arab Emirates has very strict laws and penalties for violating them. You can go to jail for reckless driving, indecent gesture, aggressive conversation on the street. At the same time, it does not matter whether you are a resident or a tourist who came to the city for a couple of days on an excursion. Such harsh measures have helped to almost completely eradicate not only crime, but also ordinary rudeness.