The jurisdiction’s crown prince Aalman bin Hamad Al Khalifa announced on 29 May he has instructed the minister of interior to draft legislation that will introduce self-sponsored residency visas for foreign investors, according to a report by Bahrain News Agency.
The visas are intended to boost Bahrain’s “position as an investment destination”, as foreign investors will be able to obtain a “10-year renewable residency permit on a self-sponsorship basis”.
Currently, foreign residents living in Bahrain can only receive short-term visas through their employers that can last no more than three years.
The move by Bahrain follows UAE lawmakers approving a plan in mid-May to introduce long-term visas for international investors and allow foreigners to own companies outright.
Low oil prices are the key factor forcing Bahrain to reconsider its visa system, as Gulf states continue to look at ways they can diversify their economies and move away from their dependence on the commodity.
On 1 January, the UAE also introduced Value Added Tax (VAT) to the jurisdiction, with Bahrain expected to follow suit in early October.