BY MARIECAR JARA-PUYOD
More expatriates have moved into the UAE through Dubai in the past two months in spite of the global recession.
This is according to the latest data from the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), which its director, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, mentioned when he was guest-of-hounor at the monthly networking of the American Business Council of Dubai and the Northern Emirates on Wednesday, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The figure, as of the end of February 2009, Al Marri said, was 66,000 against 44,000.
"People with cancelled visas were 44,000 and 66,000 new visas were issued as of February," said Al Marri, who had disclosed early on that with regards to tourists from the United States, 198,527,000 "visited the UAE" last year via the emirate.
There were more Americans issued the residence visa in January 2009 with 999 than the 478 whose visas were cancelled in the same period, he also said.
The total number of Americans on residence and employment visas in Dubai is 19,150.
"So, the growth is there," he said.
"There are more (expatriate) residents," said Al Marri, who, before reading a prepared speech and before presenting a brief film on the DNRD upgraded services, referred to reports about "thousands of cars left at the airport," and "immigration (personnel at the Dubai International Airport) with a list of wanted people," as false.
Al Marri said the cash crisis phenomenon is not unique to Dubai.
"With people leaving the country...where they are going and what they are going to do, it is not a Dubai problem," he said.
"It is a global problem and with projects delayed or (are stalled) at this moment...You see, we would like to see the future as bright right now," he continued.
"Let us open our minds. Let us not be in the dark," he said.
Stressing that despite the gloom, Dubai is "still the safest place" to be in, he pointed out that DNRD with a 24/7 workforce including holidays, is "willing to issue" visas, one of these are the mission visas which investors and businessmen need for employees they need to work on projects with a limited time frame.
Other points raised by Al Marri: * DNRD is working on a 90 per cent on-line service to all its clients by the year end;
* DNRD introduced last February the mobile visa scheme wherein visitors will receive the approval of their visas through a picture SMS which must be presented upon arrival to the DIA immigration staff. The website for this service is www.ednrd.ae.