The issuance of a civil marriage certificate is a first in the region where unions pass through religious authority, mainly Muslim or Christian. This unprecedented measure follows a long list of liberal reforms recently passed in the United Arab Emirates.
We can cite adoption, moving the weekend from Friday-Saturday to Saturday-Sunday, relaxing alcohol restrictions, but also allowing cohabitation. If the UAE multiplies societal reforms, it is with the goal of keeping the battalions of expatriates running the country, with locals largely in the minority, a million out of the 10 million of the UAE’s total population. .
Many foreigners have left and not returned during the Covid outbreak, including Indians and Brits. Hence a new generous and diversified visa policy: “green visas” for the brightest foreign students, “golden visas” for executives and specialists, not to mention “freelance visas” to attract expatriates to the field of cultural and digital industries. The Abu Dhabi authorities’ stated goal is to hire 100 computer programmers a day!
A visa for pensioners has even been created, which is linked to certain financial conditions or the purchase of real estate. In short, the Emirates are looking for talent and expatriates to be the engine of their economy.
Qatar, which is organizing the soccer World Cup next year, is trying to capitalize on this planetary event to continue attracting expatriates. And then there is Saudi Arabia in particular, which has great economic ambitions and which, under the rule of Crown Prince Mohamed ben Salman, is multiplying social openings, such as lifting the driving ban for women who are under the suffocation of religiosity by the police or organizing concerts and sporting events.
Saudi Arabia wants to become an economic center and thus compete with Dubai and the Emirates. Mohamed ben Salman decreed that by 2024, Dubai-based major international companies would no longer be able to do business in the kingdom unless they move their regional headquarters to Riyadh.
The oil giant Shell has already packed up and moved to Saudi Arabia, other companies could follow suit. Suffice it to say that among the emirs of the Gulf, we don’t spare ourselves when it comes to talking big bucks.