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UAE Partners With Startup Deel to Expedite Foreign Worker Visas

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The United Arab Emirates is forging a partnership with startup Deel to speed up the visa process for foreign workers, offering a new tool in the country’s push to attract international talent and become a regional technology hub.

Payroll and onboarding company Deel will be able to offer its customers, which include the likes of Coinbase Global Inc. and Shopify Inc., faster access to visas through a strategic partnership with the UAE’s Office for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, according to a statement shared with Bloomberg.

“I expect this to be a big growth generator for Deel and hopefully a big magnet for talent to the UAE,” Chief Executive Officer Alex Bouaziz said. Customers will be able to access two kinds of visas -- ten years of self-sponsored residence or a more flexible one for shorter durations.

The UAE government has been seeking to make the country a more attractive destination for global technology companies, as part of a plan to diversify away from oil. Bouaziz said that Deel has already begun onboarding workers in recent weeks under the agreement and it could eventually expand to cover tens of thousands of employees.

Founded in 2019, San Francisco-based Deel was last valued at $5.5 billion in October and has received backing from investors including Coatue and and Altimeter Capital. Deel entered a public offer last week to acquire Australian payroll company PayGroup, and Bouaziz said the company is working on other acquisitions.

This is the first time the firm has partnered with a government, but the pact could serve as a model for future agreements, Deel said.

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