UAE to grant citizenship to select foreigners, lists conditions to be met

The UAE plans to grant citizenship to investors and other professionals in order to give expatriates a bigger stake in the economy.

 The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the adoption of amendments that would allow the Gulf state to offer citizenship to a select group of foreigners.

In a policy that is the first among the Gulf Arab nations, it plans to grant citizenship to investors and other professionals including scientists, doctors and their families, in order to formalize a process aimed at giving expatriates a bigger stake in the economy.

This disclosure was made by Dubai’s ruler and UAE Vice President, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in a series of tweet posts on his official Twitter handle on Saturday, January 30, 2021.

According to details of the policy which was published on state news agency (WAM), the major policy shift is aimed at attracting talent to the UAE in a way that will boost growth.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his tweet posts, said, “We adopted law amendments that allow granting the UAE citizenship to investors, specialized talents & professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families. The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey.

“The UAE cabinet, local Emir courts and executive councils will nominate those eligible for the citizenship under clear criteria set for each category. The law allows receivers of the UAE passport to keep their existing citizenship.”

It was however unclear if the new passport holders would benefit from the public welfare system.

In a statement on UAE’s news agency website, the conditions that must be met to secure the citizenship include:

  • Investors are required to own a property in the UAE.
  • They are also required to obtain one or more patents that are approved by the UAE Ministry of Economy or any other reputable international body, in addition to a recommendation letter from the Economy Ministry.
  • Doctors and specialists must be specialised in a unique scientific discipline or any other scientific principles that are highly required in the UAE.
  • Scientists are required to be active researchers in universities or research centres or in the private sector, with practical experience of not less than 10 years in the same field.
  • Individuals with creative talents such as intellectuals and artists should be pioneers in the culture and art fields and winners of one or more international award. A recommendation letter from related government entities is mandatory as well.

The citizenship can be withdrawn upon breach of the conditions, the statement said.

  • Foreign residents are reported to make up more than 80% of the UAE’s population and have for decades been a mainstay of its economy. The UAE comprises seven sheikhdoms, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • Foreign residents in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years tied to employment. The government, in recent times, has made its visa policy more flexible, offering longer residencies and limited citizenship for certain types of investors, students and professionals, in order to attract investment and diversify from oil.
  • The economy of UAE has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices, prompting tens of thousands of expatriates to leave.
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