The UAE Now Offers Its Citizenship to Foreigners
One of the richest countries in the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had long been a beckoning but unattainable destination for those seeking Emirati citizenship: though the Gulf state welcomed foreigners from around the globe and granted them visas and residence permits, it prohibited issuing passports to foreign nationals and did not recognise dual citizenship. However, 2021 has made the situation different. The UAE has recently changed its immigration legislation, for the first time allowing eligible foreigners to obtain citizenship of the Emirates. Among potential UAE passport holders could be “investors, specialised talents and professionals”. Moreover, the changes are assumed to lead to a number of migrant-friendly reforms.
For a long time, the UAE had banned dual citizenship and restricted granting Emirati passports to foreigners, but 2021 has turned the tide: earlier this year the Emirati government introduced major changes to the country’s immigration laws, making it possible for non-Emirati nationals that can contribute to the UAE economy to obtain the country’s citizenship while retaining their original one. These unparalleled changes, which were thought impossible in the past, have made the Emirates the first Gulf country to allow dual citizenship.
The amended legislation aims to attract a flow of foreign investments as well as talent that can contribute to the UAE’s economy suffering from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and drop in oil prices. According to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, “investors, specialised talents and professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families” would be eligible for granting the UAE passports. Their spouses and children would also benefit from the desired citizenship.
It must be mentioned that the new legislation does not imply any application procedure; candidates for citizenship would be nominated by the UAE federal authorities and approved by the local courts, the executive councils of each Emirate (total of seven) and finally the UAE Cabinet.
To be eligible for Emirati citizenship, candidates must meet certain criteria, specific for each category:
- Investors are required to own real estate in the UAE;
- Doctors, engineers, and scientists need to have more than ten years of practical experience and expertise in unique or high-demanded areas;
- Artists and creatives have to be pioneers in their fields with at least one international award;
- Inventors must hold one or more patents approved by a well-respected international body.
The new legislation is also targeted to facilitate acquiring citizenship by expatriates, who make up around 90% of the UAE’s population. Earlier they had to apply for and renew residence permits, being tied to their employment status.
It is expected that creation of a more foreigner-friendly environment will be a further step in attracting investments and talent from abroad. Though the UAE is a conservative Islamic country, such reforms as loosening alcohol and gambling restrictions, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, permitting full ownership of foreign business, and decriminalizing homosexuality are supposed to be on their way.
The UAE passport is considered one of the most powerful in the world in terms of global mobility, offering visa-free access to more than 170 countries. Famous for its high quality of life, the UAE does not concede to the First World states, and can boast of superb infrastructure, low crime rates, minimal taxation, subsidised education and healthcare, and excellent public welfare. Moreover, its diversified economy and booming manufacturing sector make the UAE a perfect location for business.
Are you considering becoming a citizen of the United Arab Emirates? Contact GLS Private Office, and we would be happy to answer your questions and find the best tailored solution for your aspirations. Should you wish to consider other available citizenship programs, read about them on our website and let us know if you are interested.