Locals and foreign visitors with the requisite skills will be enticed to linger on and contribute to the growing digital economy

In a program aimed at establishing itself as “the preferred digital nomad hub to boost digital adoption and promote digital professional mobility and tourism”, Malaysia has launched a program called DE Rantau to encourage both local and foreign “digital nomads” to find their footing during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute continually to the country’s digital economy.

The DE Rantau Nomad Pass will enable beneficiaries to stay in the country for a period of up to 12 months to “create a vibrant ecosystem that can support the digital nomad lifestyle, to be able to regain the balance in working and living,” according to a media release by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, which quotes its Minister, YB Tan Sri Annuar.

Minister of Communications and Multimedia, YB Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima TPr Annuar Haji Musa at the launch of DE Rantau

“Aligned with Malaysia Digital (MD), the DE Rantau program will help solidify Malaysia’s path to becoming the preferred digital nomad hub of the ASEAN region. Despite facing close competition with our neighbors, Malaysia has all the right ingredients to be the most attractive choice for digital nomads. We have a robust infrastructure, affordable cost of living, cultural diversity, a multilingual population, delicious cuisines, and many more offerings to strengthen our position,” cited YB Tan Sri Annuar.  

While the digital nomad lifestyle is nothing new, “it is the pandemic that accelerated the trend of more people choosing to embrace a location-independent, tech-enabled lifestyle, allowing them to work and live wherever their hearts desire.”

The new government initiative will thereby oversee the development of “digital nomad hubs” and comprehensive local ecosystems conducive for the lifestyles of the beneficiaries. This will be done in collaboration with various industry players as well as the onboarding of digital nomads via outreach and awareness program and visa facilitation of the system starting 1 Oct 2022.

In the current first phase of the initiative, Penang, Langkawi, Kedah and Kuala Lumpur will form the pioneer digital nomad hubs. Under MD initiative, it is one of the first two Malaysia Digital Catalytic Programmes planned for 2022 to boost equitable access to digital tools, knowledge, and income opportunities.