UAE Plans to Offer Citizenship to Some Foreigners In Order to Boost Growth - Newslibre

UAE Plans to Offer Citizenship to Some Foreigners In Order to Boost Growth

Consider some of us surprised by this news as it has been reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to offer citizenship to a select group of foreigners in order to help boost its economy and growth.

UAE is the first Gulf Arab nation to do this and will formalize the process which is aimed at giving expatriates a bigger stake in the economy as long as they add value to the Gulf state.

According to UAE Vice-President and Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum; those eligible would include investors, specialised talents, doctors, engineers and artists.

He also further stated that those selected for citizenship will be able to hold dual nationality, including their families too. However, it is very unlikely that those who are low-income earners will be eligible for selection and we’re not sure whether it will include all races either.

There is no application procedure to determine who will be eligible, but instead, individuals would be nominated for citizenship by UAE royals or officials, according to Maktoum. The UAE cabinet would then decide whether or not to approve them.

The reason behind the policy shift is to attract more talented expatriates to UAE, which will in return boost the region’s economy according to details of the policy published on state news agency WAM. Foreign residents make up more than 80% of the U.A.E.’s population and have for decades been a mainstay of its economy.

However, the change in policy has been majorly driven by the drastic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and a period of low oil prices, which have prompted tens of thousands of foreigners to leave the country. Dubai alone, which is one of the major tourist destinations for UAE is struggling.

Oil-rich Gulf states have been forced to consider longer residency and limited citizenship for foreigners as they seek to attract investment and diversify from oil. Until now citizenship in the UAE and some other Gulf states has been reserved for foreigners in special cases, including for service to the state, but these changes will formalize and widen such a process.

“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,” Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a tweet.

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

The new UAE citizenship policy aims to boost the region’s economy and attract talented individuals

It is yet to be seen whether the new policy will benefit the low-income labourers since they have contributed a lot to the UAE economy when it comes to providing manpower for construction, hospitality, retail and travel sectors from which they earn money to support families back home.

UAE Plans to Offer Citizenship to Some Foreigners In Order to Boost Growth - Newslibre
UAE Vice-President and Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum said those eligible for citizenship would include investors, specialised talents, doctors, engineers and artists. (Image credit: Middle East Online)

Despite many of them spending several years in the UAE, they have had no formal route to gaining citizenship or permanent residency, not forgetting the lack of access to social welfare benefits. However, the United Arab Emirates begun offering longer stays for certain categories of investors, students and professionals alike.

According to the BBC, in 2019, Sheikh Mohammed launched a “golden card” visa system offering 10-year residency to various professionals including doctors and scientists, plus high-achieving school students, as well as their families. Last year eligibility was extended to a wider array of people.

Aside from that, last year, the UAE abolished the need for companies to have Emirati shareholders, which was aimed at attracting investment into an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and a decline in oil prices.

What does it take to be considered for UAE citizenship?

To be considered for the new citizenship scheme, investors would have to own property in the UAE, doctors would need to be specialised in areas seeing high demand, inventors would need to have had a patent approved by the UAE and creative people would need to be pioneers in their fields, according to a list published by the Wam news agency.

“The UAE citizenship offers a wide range of benefits includes the right to establish or own commercial entities and properties, in addition to any other benefits granted by federal authorities after the approval of the Cabinet or local authorities”, the publication stated.

However, the policy doesn’t offer clear details on whether those granted the passport/citizenship would be eligible for the UAE’s public welfare system.

Citizenship is not usually offered to foreigners in Gulf countries. It was usually only offered to the wives of Emirati men and the children of Emirati fathers. The children of Emirati mothers who are married to foreigners do not automatically get citizenship but must instead apply for it, a process that can take years.

Source: BBC, Live Mint


Also read: What Are the Federations in the United Arab Emirates?

UAE Plans to Offer Citizenship to Some Foreigners In Order to Boost Growth 1

Author: Allan Bangirana

Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.

He writes for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project and a freelance consultant passionate about technology and web.


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