Remote work has become the new norm for millions of employees worldwide, and Dubai is using this trend to accelerate its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October, the Dubai government introduced a digital nomad visa that allows remote workers to stay in the city for up to 12 months. Since then, the destination has seen a significant increase in foreign arrivals and long-term visits.
According to a new travel analytics report from ForwardKeys, arrivals from France and the United Kingdom to Dubai increased sharply during the fourth quarter of 2020. Sales of airline tickets in Europe and the Americas also showed an upward trend in the same period.
Meanwhile, travelers from Russia are flocking to Dubai during the winter, with arrivals in January 2021 exceeding pre-pandemic levels in January 2020. Russians have also remained nearly twice as long in 2019, suggesting that the new visa can encourage people to stay around.
“We have seen steady growth week by week in international long-term tickets since the end of October, when the [digital nomad visa] program was announced for the first time, ”said Ema Mandal, forwardKeys insights specialist. “Remote workers can come to Dubai to live with their families on a visa valid for up to one year. Many home markets, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have shown annual growth in November and December. “
Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, has many advantages to offer digital nomads. It features stunning architecture, state-of-the-art buildings, jaw-dropping attractions, bustling nightlife and world-class restaurants. It also has a strong digital infrastructure, global networking opportunities and, most importantly, zero income tax for individuals.
To qualify for a digital nomad visa, remote workers must:
- Earn at least $ 5,000 USD per month
- Have health insurance coverage
- Have a passport valid for at least six months
Workers can apply for the visa, which has a $ 287 fee, from within the UAE, which means that they can test the city as a tourist before committing to the long-term to stay.
Successful visa applicants have the right to rent accommodation and use Dubai’s telecommunications networks, public services, schools and banking institutions.
“The global pandemic has changed the way we live and work,” Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce, said in a press release promoting the visa. “As multinationals and leading startups around the world accelerate their digital adoption rates, the need to be physically present to fulfill professional responsibilities has been redefined.”
Almarri added that the city’s “dynamic and safe lifestyle” makes it the best remote work option for “digitally experienced workers and their families”.
Dubai is one of several destinations that try to attract digital nomads and remote workers after the pandemic. Estonia and Croatia have already launched digital nomad visa programs, and Costa Rica and Greece recently announced plans to do the same.