Investors and professionals, including scientists, doctors and writers, will be eligible for naturalization.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that it is paving the way for citizenship for some foreigners, but it is not known whether new passport holders will benefit from the social protection system.
The ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, said on Saturday that “investors, talents and specialist professionals, including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families “would be eligible for naturalization under the new amendment to the Citizenship Act.
“The UAE cabinet, local courts and emirates executive councils will nominate those eligible for citizenship according to clear criteria defined for each category,” he said. “The law allows UAE passport recipients to retain their current citizenship.”
The UAE government said the amendment “aims to appreciate the talents and skills present in the UAE and to attract brighter minds to the UAE community.”
Citizens are a small minority of the UAE’s nine million people, which has a huge migrant workforce, largely from South Asia, some of whom are second or third generation residents.
UAE Visa System
Foreigners in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years related to employment.
Recently, the government has made its visa policy more flexible, offering longer residences for certain types of investors, students and professionals.
Last year, the government extended its “golden” visa system – which grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state – to certain professionals, holders of specialized degrees and others.
The UAE also has a growing community of wealthy expatriates drawn to the low-tax regime and luxury megaprojects and tourist attractions of the larger emirates.
The UAE has long guaranteed its 1.4 million citizens a high standard of living through reserved jobs and a cradle-to-grave social protection system. To protect it, they rarely allowed naturalizations.
It was not clear whether new passport holders would benefit from the social protection system. The UAE spends billions of dollars every year on free education, health, housing loans and grants for its citizens.
In November, the UAE announced plans to revise the country’s Islamic personal laws, allowing unmarried couples to cohabit, easing alcohol restrictions and criminalizing so-called “honor killings”.