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04 August, 2022

Saudi Arabia or the UAE — which country to choose to invest more profitably?

Saudi Arabia has set up a new agency to promote the country as an attractive destination for investors. This was announced in early August by Minister of Investment Khalid A. Al-Falih.

The Arab states are striving to improve the investment climate within their countries. One of the brightest examples is the United Arab Emirates: every year they provide more and more incentives for investors.

We tell how the Arab countries attract investors and on what conditions they issue a residence permit.

Residence permit in the UAE and Saudi Arabia by investment
Photo: Adobe Stock

How Saudi Arabia Attracts Investors

The new agency is part of the national Saudi Vision 2030 program, which aims to:

  • reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil production and sales;
  • diversify the economy of the state;
  • improve infrastructure, health and education systems;
  • create new business opportunities;
  • develop the tourism sector.

Invest Saudi is a portal that will be run by a new agency. The portal publishes all the information about the country's investment opportunities.

Saudi Arabia allows foreigners to register a company in the country. A business license is issued within one day and based on the principles of fair and equal treatment, which guarantees foreign investors the same rights and obligations as local investors.

Foreigners can invest in different socio-economic sectors of Saudi Arabia, such as:

  • agriculture and food industry;
  • health care and science;
  • mining and metallurgy;
  • tourism and ecology;
  • business and real estate.

Since 2019, wealthy foreigners can get a premium residence visa - Premium Residency. There are two categories of visa:

  • SP1 - gives the right to reside in the country for an unlimited time;
  • SP2 - Renewed annually.

In May 2022, the government of Saudi Arabia simplified the issuance of resident visas by creating the Single National Online Application Platform. With its help, foreigners can quickly independently upload documents for obtaining a visa.

To obtain an SP1 permanent residence visa comparable to residence permits in other Arab countries, foreigners must pay a one-time fee of 800,000 SAR. This is approximately $213,000. The investment cannot be returned.

Foreigners with an SP2 visa pay an annual fee of 100,000 SAR, or about $26,600.

The Premium Residency visa gives foreigners the opportunity to:

  • at any time freely come and live in Saudi Arabia;
  • arrange visit visas for relatives;
  • conduct business in the country;
  • buy and own real estate, car;
  • work in the private sector;
  • use the lanes at the airport intended for citizens;
  • employ domestic staff, such as maids.
Residence permit in Saudi Arabia by investment
Jeddah is a port city of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea coast and one of the country's economic centers

What do the UAE investors offer

For 50 years, the United Arab Emirates has turned from villages scattered across the desert into a developed state. The UAE offers investment opportunities to foreigners:

  • into business;
  • stock market;
  • state funds;
  • shares of investment funds;
  • real estate.

Dubai is the most sought-after emirate among investors: laws for business are constantly being improved here and international trade is developed. There are about 30 free economic zones in Dubai: they have special tax and customs regimes.

Investors can invest in Dubai in the development of a green economy, the energy sector, agriculture, transport, financial and technology companies.

In June 2022, Dubai announced that it would open 50 offices worldwide as part of the Dubai Global initiative. This initiative will help:

  • attract new investors to the country;
  • local companies to enter world markets;
  • reinforce Dubai's status as a leading business hub.

The new offices will provide investors with market research services and advice on legislative procedures to help them decide whether to relocate or expand their business to Dubai.

Since 2019, the UAE has begun issuing golden visas to foreigners, including for investment. It can be obtained by real estate investors and entrepreneurs, talents and public figures, scientists and valuable specialists.

Investments in the UAE: free economic zones for opening a company in Dubai
Dubai Knowledge Park - Dubai Education Campus and Talent Development Free Zone for Private Companies

How can an investor get a golden visa in the UAE

Investors can get a UAE Golden Visa for buying property or investing in a local business. This visa is similar to a residence permit. To get a golden visa, it used to take from 5 million to 10 million dirhams.

In April 2022, the UAE Government approved new conditions for obtaining a golden visa: it reduced the amount of investment, removed the restriction on the period of stay in other countries, and allowed buying real estate on a mortgage and under construction.

There is no exact date for the entry into force of the new rules - they are being clarified at the Dubai Land Department.

Conditions for obtaining a golden investor visa

CriterionVisa for 5 yearsVisa for 10 years
Minimum investment amountAED 2,000,000
or $544,500
AED 2,000,000
or $544,500
Investment optionsBuying a property:
  • finished object;
  • being built by an accredited developer;
  • in a mortgage from an accredited bank.
Investments in:
  • opening a new company in the country;
  • into a new or existing company.

For the purchase of real estate in the UAE, you can also get a resident visa for three years. To do this, you need to buy residential or commercial properties worth at least 750,000 AED, or $204,000, in Freehold zones.

Real estate in the UAE for investors

UAE Golden Visa for Investment

Townhouse in a large-scale residential project with infrastructure in Dubai. The cost is from $182,000. Profitability – up to 8% per annum

UAE Golden Visa for Investors

Spacious studios in the world’s tallest hotel in Dubai Marina. The cost is from $600,000. Profitability – up to 8% per annum

Golden visa in the UAE for the purchase of real estate

Share or full ownership of an apartment in a hotel in the center of Dubai. The cost is from $126,000. Profitability – up to 7% per annum

Benefits of residency in the UAE

"Dispersal field". An investor can move to the United Arab Emirates at any time, one of the richest and most developed countries in the world. Members of his family can also live with him in the country.

Tax optimization. There are no taxes on income, capital gains, inheritance, real estate and gift in the UAE. Companies are also exempt from income tax until 2023.

Opening a bank account in the UAE. The investor will be able to open accounts in any bank in the country in dirhams, dollars, euros and other currencies. On the account, you can store savings at interest or use it for transfers and payments to other countries.

Access to medicine and education UAE. As residents of the country, the investor and his family will be able to be treated in public and private clinics, get medical insurance on favorable terms.

The investor will be able to educate his children in schools and universities in the UAE: public kindergartens and schools are free for children, and there are scholarships for students. The country also has international schools and universities.

Esaad Privilege Card: will be issued free of charge to UAE Golden Visa holders. Investors will be able to use the card in 92 countries around the world and receive exclusive offers and discounts up to 70%.

Opportunity to obtain UAE citizenship. Investors can obtain citizenship of the United Arab Emirates by naturalization after 30 years of residence in the country. Previously, it was possible to obtain UAE citizenship only for exceptional merit.

With a UAE passport, investors will be able to travel visa-free to 175 countries, including the Schengen countries, the UK, Canada and China.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the EU and the Caribbean. If you want to get a golden or resident visa in the UAE for investment, please contact investment program experts for advice.

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Saudi Arabia or the UAE — which country to choose to invest more profitably?