The warmest wishes and words of thanks from the stars to the United Arab Emirates have been raining down on social networks since the beginning of the year. The latter are all grateful to have received a coveted “Golden Residence”, i.e. an extended stay that the country offers artists and creative people. Among the recently awarded stars are many Lebanese, including singers Najwa Karam, Ragheb Alameh, Ramy Ayache, Carole Samaha, Walid Toufic, TV presenter Annabella Hilal and actors Cyrine Abdelnour, Takla Chamoun, Nadine Nassib Njeim, Wissam Hanna, and Bassem Moghniyeh Jessy Abdo. But also Arab and international stars, notably Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, tennis star Novak Djokovic, ex-footballer Roberto Carlos, Egyptian singer Mohammad Ramadan, Egyptian actress Nelly Karim, actress Nabila Obeid, presenter Hala Serhan, Tunisian star Latifa and many Syrian actors and singers, such as Nassif Zeytoun, Bassam Koussa, Taym Hassan, Carisse Bachar and Qoussay Khaouli.
“Your Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the people of the Emirates and all those responsible, thank you for granting me the Golden Residence in the United Arab Emirates. It’s a great honor for me,” Ramy Ayache wrote on Twitter. “I sincerely thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum for granting me the Golden Residence in the United Arab Emirates and my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority for their support of artists and creators “, assured Nadine Njeim, while Annabella Hilal considered herself lucky, “because despite the difficult circumstances that my country Lebanon is going through, there is still a light in the Emirate of Dubai that opens our horizons and enlightens our paths”.
“I will stay in Lebanon”
Two years ago, the United Arab Emirates presented their Golden Residency Program for the first time. In November 2020, the authorities announced the official launch and activation of a new system. Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum said at the time that a ten-year residency program had been approved for a number of categories.
This long-stay visa system is automatically renewed. It allows foreign expatriates wishing to work, live or study in the country to benefit from long-term residency without the need for an Emirati sponsor, with 100% ownership within the country. This is in contrast to the generally accepted rules that require the presence of a local partner with a minimum 51% stake in business and investment projects within the Emirates. In addition to artists, this program is also aimed at PhD students, doctors, engineers, artificial intelligence degree holders, investors, entrepreneurs, researchers in various scientific fields, and smart students. After the right of residence has been issued in gold, the beneficiary can pass it on directly to his entire family. ‘Superstar’ Ragheb Alameh revealed his own had also received the ‘golden visa’ and said his move to Dubai was the ‘best news’. “What does a father want other than for his children to live in a place that offers safety, law, justice, job opportunities, positivity and a vision for the future? he asked himself on social networks. The political situation in Lebanon is particularly difficult and I don’t want my children to waste their time. I don’t like that they are affected by these people who are lying to the Lebanese people and destroying Lebanon. »
These claims have heated up the internet and angered many Lebanese netizens, who saw them as an attack on the land of cedars. Young singer Joseph Attieh was also criticized when he thanked the UAE for granting the golden residency. They reminded him that his main title was indeed… “Lebnan rah yerjaa”. “I’m staying in Lebanon though,” the singer told us. I have thanked the State of the Emirates and I repeat my thanks. Being granted the golden residency makes my life easier on a professional level and opens up new job opportunities for me, but it doesn’t mean that I left Lebanon. And to add: “The UAE is ruled by leaders who know what they are doing. why deny »
If the “Golden Visa” scheme appears primarily to be a tool to boost the country and promote tourism and the arts by attracting artists and intellectuals, some see an entirely different hidden purpose in it. This is the opinion of the Lebanese journalist and cultural critic Zeinab Haoui, who primarily describes the program as a “tool of political propaganda”. “It’s not innocent that the UAE chooses artists and influencers who are active on social media, even if they don’t necessarily showcase high-quality art,” she told L’Orient-Le Jour. And it is not innocent that the main artists targeted are in Lebanon or Syria, two countries that today find themselves in an axis of “resistance” to the UAE’s open policy towards Israel. Not all artists are aware of this, but they serve the purpose of this campaign and benefit from it as well. At a time when we simply no longer have a state, when our country no longer has much to offer them, especially the lifestyle they have always become accustomed to. It’s not up to me to blame them or not. It’s just an observation. »
Allegations refuted by a renowned Lebanese singer who was also contacted by L’Orient-Le Jour asking for anonymity. She assures that “we Lebanese had better learn some lessons from the United Arab Emirates, which has managed to turn the country into an oasis, while our state is in the process of dragging us to hell, it seems never finished.” “Funding or not, the UAE shows through their program that they value arts and culture, she says, and especially Lebanese artists who, despite everything, try to project a positive image of their country. We are unable to give lessons! »
The warmest wishes and words of thanks from the stars to the United Arab Emirates have been raining down on social networks since the beginning of the year. The latter are all grateful to have received a coveted “Golden Residence”, i.e. an extended stay that the country offers artists and creative people. Recently under the stars…