New Delhi, 19 June 2019: Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of the Dh5.5 billion (US$1,5 billion) annual turnover conglomerate, has become one of the first foreigners to receive the 10-year UAE residence visa, as the UAE further liberalises the country’s economy to attract more foreign investment.
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He received the 10-year visa, stamped on his passport, from General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai. A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) entrepreneur, Rizwan Sajan came to the UAE in 1991 to earn a living and set up Danube Building Materials Trading in 1993 – at the age of 30.
By 2018, Danube Group grew to a conglomerate of ten companies operating in more than five business verticals building materials, real estate, home décor and interiors, fashion retail, manufacturing, joinery and food and beverage retail, with an annual turnover to the tune of Dh5.5 billion (US$1.5 billion) when the company celebrated its Silver Jubilee last year. Today, his networth is estimated to be more than US$1 billion (Dh3.67 billion)
“This is a great moment as we have been waiting for this for a long time. I am grateful to the Almighty and the UAE’s visionary leadership for granting a 10-year visa to me,” Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, says. “This is the beginning of a new chapter in the UAE economy as it further liberalises the economy to attract more investment. Initiatives such as the ten-year visa, 100 percent ownership of companies in selected economic sectors and finally the permanent residency – are some of the game-changing developments that will re-define our relationship with this wonderful land of opportunities.
“This is a great moment not only for me but for millions of foreigners living in this country. I’m sure the scope of these initiatives will expand gradually to include more investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, philanthropists, innovators and highly-skilled professionals.”
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The UAE Government last year announced a package of reforms to grant a 10-year visa, 100 percent foreign ownership in companies in selected economic sectors. However, this was topped up with a Permanent Residency package announced a few weeks ago to more than 6,800 investors, businessmen, scientists and highly-skilled professionals, which is unprecedented in the GCC region.
Investors in public investments of at least Dh10 million are entitled to apply for a 10-year residence visa in the UAE.The investment may take many forms such as: a deposit of at least Dh10 million in an investment fund inside the country; establishing a company in the UAE with a capital of not less than Dh10 million; partnering in an existing or a new company with a share value of not less than Dh10 million; having a total investment of not less than Dh10 million in all areas mentioned, on condition that the investment in sectors other than real estate is not less than 60 per cent of the total investment.
Persons with specialised talents – including specialised talents and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge such as doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors, as well as creative individuals in the field of culture and art are also eligible for the 10-year visa. The visa advantage extends to the spouse and children. All categories are required to have a valid employment contract in a specialised field of a priority in the UAE.
Doctors and specialists are also eligible for the 10-year visa, who meet at least two of the following conditions: A PhD degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world (refer to ICA for information); An award or certificates of appreciation in the field of the applicant’s work or contribution to a major scientific research in the respective field of work and published articles or scientific books in distinguished publications in the respective field of work.
“These are exciting times and these new reforms will make the UAE a centre of attraction for human talents. I see the beginning of a new dawn in the UAE economy and society,” Sajan says.
Rizwan Sajan’s is a rags-to-riches story. He came to the UAE with a Dh1,500 salary package to work for a building materials trading company. In 1993, he set up Danube Building Materials Trading company by investing his meagre savings – running after clients with a rented vehicle while his wife Sameera Sajan – his first employee – managing the office and phone calls to take orders.
“I feel that I was at the right place, at the right time and in the right trade. Success came as the building construction sector began to grow – so the demand for building materials grew. My company benefitted the most as I aggressively pursued the business and worked day and nights.
“Success followed as we continued to gain customers’ confidence. As a business, we evolved, changed and expanded organically to become number one in our trade. Today, I thank to all my customers, family members, the UAE’s leadership for providing such a wonderful business environment where people like me could become successful.”
In 2014, Rizwan Sajan entered into real estate development business through Danube Properties with Dreamz project – which was sold out at launch. Since then, Danube Properties launched and sold out 12 projects involving 5,019 residential units with a portfolio of Dh3.8 billion. The company has so far delivered six projects with 1,711 units, worth Dh1.7 billion so far.
Danube Group owns Danube Home – a chain superstore of interiors and home décor – as well as Milano – a sanitary and bathware brand registered in Italy.
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