New GCC expat retirement visas could boost tourism sector

New GCC expat retirement visas could boost tourism sector

With 35 million expat workers in the GCC, the retirement market holds potential 

The recent announcement of new residence visa options for expatriate workers who wish to stay beyond their working years will be a boost to the GCC’s tourism sector, according to Arabian Travel Market (ATM) exhibition director Danielle Curtis.

It’s estimated that there are currently more than 35 million expat workers in the GCC countries and there could be a sizeable proportion of the white-collar community that might want to retire in the GCC. This will be one of the topics addressed at ATM 2022, which takes place from 8 to 11 May 2022.

Speaking about the new development, Curtis said: “With the means and time on their hands, it would be natural, not only for these retirees to travel, but also to receive family and friends.

Airlines, hotels, destinations and other entertainment venues, all benefit from this additional revenue stream 

“Ordinarily this is lost if retirees return to their home countries. In addition, it is hardly a coincidence that two of Dubai’s top feeder markets in 2019 – India with two million visitors and the UK with 1.2 million visitors – have communities in the UAE.”

Indians account for around 2.6 million, while Brits account for 120,000 of the UAE expat population.

Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai), has already launched an initiative called ‘Retire in Dubai’, a practical framework with certain minimum financial requirements, where residents of Dubai who are approaching retirement age, can apply for a renewable five-year retirement visa.


Curtis added: “If this initiative is a success, it’s more than likely that other GCC nations will follow at some point. Retired expatriates would undoubtedly contribute significantly to the tourism sector, receiving family and friends and continuing to enjoy a quality lifestyle that they have become accustomed to.”

As well as networking opportunities, ATM 2022 will host dedicated conference summits on the Global Stage, covering aviation, hotels, sports tourism, retail tourism and a special hospitality investment seminar.  

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