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Dubai eases visa rules, UAE makes labour laws more competitive

Labourers wearing protective masks queue in Dubai on 6 May 2020 [KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images]
Labourers wearing protective masks queue in Dubai on 6 May 2020 [KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images]

In the latest move to boost the United Arab Emirates' economic competitiveness, Dubai on Tuesday announced a five-year multiple entry visa to facilitate business trips for foreign employees of firms based in the Emirate, Reuters reports.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates, also this week unveiled new private sector labour laws which will come into force in February.

The Gulf state has recently launched a raft of economic reforms and legal reforms, including longer-term residency visas, to attract investment and foreigners to help the economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes also come amid a growing economic rivalry with Gulf neighbour, Saudi Arabia, to be the region's trade and business hub.

The Crown Prince of Dubai, the region's business and tourism hub, said the five-year multiple entry visa would help staff of Dubai-based companies easily move in and out of the Emirate for meetings and other business needs.

At a federal level, a new labour law, announced on Monday, is intended to create an efficient labour market, attract talent, empower women and improve the comparativeness of Emirati citizens in a private sector dominated by expatriate workers, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Abdulrahman Al-Awar said.

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One provision bans employers holding onto employees' passports and forcing them to leave the country at the end of an employment contract, a ministry statement said.

Rights groups have, for years, criticised the UAE and other Gulf countries for the control employers have over workers, especially the widespread practice of withholding passports from domestic and other low-paid workers.

The law also prohibits workplace discrimination based on factors including race, gender and religion, the statement said.

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