Why Dubai could soon see a fresh influx of upwardly mobile Indian execs


Experts say Dubai’s new virtual visa initiative will encourage Indians from across the globe to consider moving to the emirate.

Upwardly mobile and senior level Indian service sector professionals – both from home and locations such as the Silicon Valley – are expected to opt for the Dubai government’s recently announced remote working programme in large numbers, experts have told Arabian Business.

Company CEOs and management consultants said the move will also benefit the emirate in a big way as it will accentuate the quality of talent in the region.

“This will definitely help the UAE to attract high-end talent from various corners of the world, especially from India,” Shan Kadavil (pictured below), co-founder and CEO of e-commerce platform FreshToHome, told Arabian Business.

“UAE is a preferred location for a lot of expats due to its favourable living and working environment with high standards of safety and regulations and this programme could accentuate the cross-border movement of professionals,” added Amarjeet Dutta, partner of global leadership search and advisory firm EMA Partners, Dubai.

According to an announcement made earlier in October, the programme would provide remote workers – and their families – the opportunity to relocate, on an annual basis, to Dubai.

As per the programme, which stipulates a minimum of $5,000 per month salary as one of the eligibility conditions, applicants taking part in the programme will also benefit from the emirate’s zero income tax for individuals.

“UAE has always done its best to attract good talent into the region who intend to come here and serve a purpose,” Dutta said, anticipating a good response to the programme from professionals across the world.

“We at EMA Partners, are already seeing a fair amount of traction with tech companies wanting to set up their development centres in the UAE for remote collaboration seamlessly across the West and East due to favorable and convenient time zone gaps across regions.

“This move will also encourage multinationals across sectors to set up back offices – global support centres – for certain processes and business units due to UAE’s strategic location on the global map,” Dutta (pictured below) added.

Dutta also revealed that EMA Partners is actively involved with certain organisations who are thinking on those lines.

Timing of the programme

Management consultants also said that the ‘remote working’ programme is bound to see success because of the timing of the announcement.

“In many parts of the world, including India, working remotely is fast becoming a norm now due to the pandemic. While the pandemic has been a trigger necessitating social distancing, companies have been quick in recognizing the cost advantages of remote working as normal practice,” CN Radhakrishnan, a leading Dubai-based independent management consultant and former board member of GEMS, told Arabian Business.

Radhakrishnan said a working professional now has the freedom and flexibility to live wherever he likes to be, yet fulfill the requirements of his/her job.

“Dubai has been quick in recognising this global trend and has announced this new initiative allowing any working professional to relocate to Dubai and work remotely from here,” he said.

Shan also pointed out that with several Indian and MNC companies operating in the IT and other services sectors in Bangalore and other leading Indian cities currently allowing their employees to work from home for up to one year, many of them, especially those at the mid to senior level, might seriously consider the remote working option being offered by the UAE government.

Falling rentals, zero tax in Dubai

Shan said most of the IT and other services sector professionals are moving out of Bangalore and other cities to places which are less polluted and offer them a better lifestyle.

“Dubai definitely scores on this front and my sense is that a large number of these professionals would look at moving to the UAE to work remotely from there,” Shan said.

“The pandemic-induced lowering of house rentals in the UAE and the zero percent tax there would be added attractions for this.”

Shan, however, said the stipulation of $5000 monthly salary could be a dampener for thousands of Indian professionals, who would have otherwise have jumped at the opportunity.

Shan said besides professionals from India, this programme (remote working) could attract many Indian professionals working in Silicon Valley and other Western cities also to opt for moving to Dubai.

“This would offer a great opportunity to those overseas Indian professionals with strong roots or attachment to India as Dubai, besides offering an equally good lifestyle, will help them to shuttle between India and the city more often, as Dubai is closer home,” Shan pointed out.

Dutta added: “The hybrid model structure – fraction of employees permanently working from home or remote location – that has recently gained more mileage in organisations  due to Covid-19 is a great enabler to support this (remote working) initiative by the UAE government.

“This government never fails to surprise you with innovative models and this is another example of buttressing that!”

Dutta also said by giving an opportunity to remote working professionals to taste the good quality life that Dubai offers, without the need for taking long leaves from their employers, Dubai is boosting its tourism sector as well.

“At the same time, this initiative may result in such professionals being able to seek other employment opportunities in UAE as well,” Dutta added.

Criteria for eligibility under the new programme include:

  • Passport with minimum six months validity
  • Health insurance with UAE coverage validity
  • Proof of Employment from current employer with a one-year contract validity, a minimum of $5,000 per month salary, last month’s payslip and three preceding months’ bank statements
  • If the applicant is a company owner: proof of ownership of company for one year or more, with an average monthly income of $5,000 per month, and three preceding months’ bank statements

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