Golden Visa will sharpen Bahrain’s competitive edge say experts

The newly launched Golden Residency Visa will enhance Bahrain’s appeal as an investment destination and help in attracting global talent, experts concur.

Discussing the impact of the initiative on the national economy, panellists that included LuLu Group International director Juzer Rupawala and Bahrain Property Development Association chairman Aaref Hejres yesterday concluded that it was a key step by the government to enhance Bahrain’s long-term competitiveness.

Announcing the new visa, the government had said that the visa offers 10 years of residency in the kingdom, which can be renewed “indefinitely”, provided certain criteria are met.

Aimed at attracting investors, entrepreneurs, and highly talented individuals who can contribute to Bahrain’s ongoing success, it includes the right to work in Bahrain, unlimited entry and exit and residency for close family members.

The announcement comes amidst a series of economic reforms and initiatives the country has implemented, such as the Economic Recovery Plan.

To qualify for the visa, a person must have resided in Bahrain for at least five years and earned an average salary of at least BD2000 ($5,306) per month or own property worth BD200,000 (or a little over $500,000).

Holders must reside in the kingdom for at least 90 days a year to maintain validity.

Hailing the landmark decision, Mr Rupawala said it was a matter of pride for the group that its chairman and managing director Yusuff Ali MA was the first recipient of the Golden Residency Visa.

Listing key advantages of Bahrain, he cited data from the World Bank’s Doing Business report to note that it takes only 30 minutes to get a virtual CR in the country and just eight days to have a business up and running.

“Bahrain is 40pc cheaper than its regional peers in terms of cost of living and numerous surveys of expatriates have ranked Bahrain as the top destination in the Middle East region for individuals from across the world to resettle and achieve an exceptional quality of life,” he added.

Speaking from personal experience, Mr Rupawala said expats are seamlessly able to integrate into Bahraini society and thrive, are made to feel at home by Bahrainis and the country remains an open society with a cosmopolitan culture.

Referring to the real estate sector, which is set to be an obvious beneficiary of the new visa, the top official from the retail major said this will encourage residents, companies and highly qualified professionals to consider long-term living options in the kingdom.

The discussion organised by the Bahrain Entrepreneurship Organisation (BEO) was moderated by the organisation’s founder and chairwoman Feryal Nass, while BEO’s real estate committee head Eman Al Mannai and MCSIX Holdings chief executive and founder Dheya Alasfoor participated.

Ms Al Mannai explained that Bahrain’s real estate sector continues to deliver a return on investment of more than 8 per cent, which is much higher than US and Europe and is expected to attract investors from all over.

Calling the decision a good first step, Mr Hejres said this was a long-standing demand of BaPDA, adding that the criteria needed to be tweaked a bit in terms of minimum size of investment to incentivise expats.

“I feel the real estate market has bottomed out and more such initiatives are needed to create demand. I feel there is room for some fees to be cut and maybe another visa can be created for people who are able to invest say BD50,000 to BD100,000, granting them residence for five years,” he added.




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