Affluent businessmen and upwardly mobile professional Indians – both expats and residents – are expected to take advantage of the new ‘Retire in Dubai’ scheme in large numbers due to its value-for-money proposition and closer-to-home location advantage, experts say.

Existing family ties in the UAE and eagerness to get away from the medley of socio-cultural-economic issues – increasingly seen as an irritant to a peaceful life by a section of the upper middle-class Indians – are the other reasons cited for making the new Dubai retirement scheme attractive.

“The move is taken in positively by many expats as the criteria set is not very rigid to meet,” Cyriac Mathew, a director in a government-owned company in Dubai.

“For me as an expat closer to my retirement I may avail it as a temporary solution until I firm up my post retirement plans,” he added.

Mathew is among thousands of expat Indians who will fit the bill as far the relaxed financial criteria set for the latest retirement visa scheme offered by Dubai authorities.

Until now, it has been the uber rich Indian businessmen who used to be eager to acquire a NRI (non-resident Indian) status, mainly to get away from the prowling tax sleuths and paying hefty taxes in India on their income.

Immigration experts, however, said recently that a large number of professionals and upper middle class and service class Indians also seem to be eager to leave the country for a variety of reasons.

“As I see it, it seems to be a good option considering Dubai's proximity to India for a select audience from down South India and rich retirees in India," Vikas Puri, managing partner, HeadWest Migration, said.

He said for a big section of expat Indians who work in senior roles or run businesses and whose children also work there now, the scheme will be highly attractive and will make sense as it would offer them the opportunity to continue to stay with their family.

As for resident Indians, Puri said it is too early to see any movement on this as the scheme was announced only last week.

The ‘Retire in Dubai’ scheme, spearheaded by Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai), offers three financial requirements for eligibility: earning a monthly income of AED20,000 ($5,500); having savings of AED 1 million ($275,000); or owning a property in Dubai worth AED2m ($550,000).

Under the scheme offered to expats working in Dubai and to foreigners, eligible applicants will be provided a retirement visa, renewable every five years.

Advantages on family and location

Factors such as the UAE accounting for the largest Indian diaspora – about 8.5 million – and India’s age-old relationship with the Gulf country will act as additional sweeteners for the Dubai retirement scheme, according to experts.

“The retirement visa announced by the UAE Government comes as a welcome step for many Indians who plan to send their children for studies or wish to settle in UAE for various reasons,” Muneesh Kumar, Professor Emeritus of Delhi University and a commentator on socio-economic issues commented.

He said the scheme will also be a very attractive proposal for the parents of Indians who are already in the UAE on work visas and wish to spend their retired life with their children, although they are not dependent on them.

“Such parents will find it even more attractive if the financial conditions are made a little more liberal,” he suggested.

R Guha, a financial consultant and former senior finance executive of Akzo Nobel India, agreed: “Many affluent Indians may opt for Dubai for a good lifestyle as Dubai is nearly the best run city in the world with excellent infrastructure.”

Guha said it (Dubai) can also be a good option as a second home for more wealthy Indians - although expensive to maintain.

However he added that the downside is that one is not clear about what to do in Dubai without a job.

Besides, there could be doubts in the minds of people about policy on this category of visa after the initial 5-year period, he said.

According to Kumar, the scheme for a long-term visa will encourage high net worth Indians to invest in real estate in the UAE and enjoy the lifestyle that the country offers.

(This article was originally published by Arabian Business)