The UAE has amended its citizenship law. The Emirates says it will grant citizenship to foreign residents for the first time, providing they add value to the Gulf state.
The UAE’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said this change was made to attract and retain individuals with specialized skills. Those eligible for citizenship would include investors, doctors, engineers, artists and other specialized talents.
Unlike most citizenship procedures, there is no application procedure for UAE nationality. Instead, individuals would be nominated for citizenship by UAE royals or officials, he said. The UAE cabinet would then decide whether or not to approve them.
This law might come as a surprise to many since 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, which can take years to be processed.
The change comes at a time when foreigners are considering leaving the Gulf country for their home countries amid the pandemic. Foreigners make up the majority of the resident population and more than 90% of the workforce. These foreign workers usually have renewable visas which remain valid for a few years in parallel to their work contracts.
Low-income workers remain overlooked and still have no way to claim the UAE nationality.
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