The United Arab Emirates on Sunday said it will extend its “golden visa” system, which grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state, to certain professionals, specialised degree-holders and others, Reuters reported.

All holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors and also computer, electronics, programming, electrical and biotechnology engineers are eligible, UAE Vice President and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, said in a statement.

Also eligible are those with specialised degrees in artificial intelligence, big data and epidemiology. Besides, high school students living in the UAE who rank top in the country, and students from certain universities with a Grade Point Average, or GPA of 3.8 or higher, will also be covered under the new visa programme.

Foreigners residing in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years based on their employment. But the government, in the past couple of years, has made its visa policy more flexible, offering longer residencies for certain types of investors, students and professionals.

After first announcing a long-term visa plan in 2018, the UAE in 2019 started granting five to 10-year renewable visas to certain foreign investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists and outstanding students. In September, the country’s government said it would grant visas renewable every five years to wealthy foreign retirees.

The new relaxations in the visa programme comes at a time when UAE’s economy – that hinges on oil and gas production – has suffered in the hands of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting low oil prices, which has prompted many expatriates to leave.