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17th May 2022

So, you want to be an Emirati? Well, brace yourself because here’s everything you need to know about acquiring a UAE nationality and passport.

The United Arab Emirates introduced a pathway for citizenship, allowing select foreigners to acquire the Emirati nationality and passport under certain conditions.  

It must be noted that despite this coming into effect in 2021, concrete details of the amended law are yet to be seen. While many if not most of the details are not too specific, it lays out the foundation by which citizenship can be extended to foreign professionals, including investors, doctors, specialists, inventors, scientists, talents, intellectuals, artists, and their families.

In this blog, we take a closer look into this major move made by the UAE, a country where approximately 90% of the population are foreigners, and what this means for the lives of roughly 10 million expatriates. 

What was the law like before the amendment was made?

Before the changes were introduced, acquiring the Emirati nationality was acquired by virtue of law, citizenship, or naturalization as per Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 on Nationality and Passports. 

Prior citizenship was only open to wives of Emiratis, children of Emirati fathers, and long-standing citizens holding a presidential decree. The children of Emirati mothers, married to non-Emiratis, may appeal and obtain an Emirati passport. 

So, am I now eligible for UAE citizenship?

Under the amended law, only foreigners who fall under one of the categories listed below are eligible:

Investors

An investor must own a property in the UAE.

Doctors and specialists

A doctor or specialist must be specialized in a scientific discipline of high demand in the UAE and must have acknowledged scientific contributions and practical experience of not less than 10 years. He/she must also have a membership in a reputable organization in the field of specialization.

Scientists

A scientist must be an active researcher at a university, research center, or private sector, with a practical experience of not less than 10 years in the same field, and must have contributed to the same field. Further, must obtain a recommendation letter from a recognized scientific institution in the UAE.

Inventors

An inventor must have one or more patents approved by the UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) or any other reputable international body. In addition, he/she must have from the MoE.

Intellectuals and creative talents

Intellectuals and creative talents must be pioneers in the field of art and culture and a winner of at least one international award.  A recommendation letter from related government entities is required as well.

Are there other conditions?

Before acquiring citizenship, eligible foreigners and their families will need to take the oath of allegiance and loyalty to the UAE, commit to abide by the UAE’s laws and inform the UAE government entity in case of acquiring or losing any other citizenship.

Can I apply for UAE citizenship?

The law does not provide a path to actively apply for citizenship. Instead, it can only be acquired through the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, Offices of the Executive Councils, and the Cabinet based on the nominations of federal entities.

Will I be able to retain my current nationality?

Under the law, eligible foreigners and their families will be able to keep their existing citizenship. This means an eligible foreigner can hold a UAE passport and that of another country.

Will my citizenship be permanent or can it be withdrawn?

In case of breach of terms and conditions, citizenship could be withdrawn as per the amendments.

These new amendments made to the UAE Citizenship Law are a part of the UAE’s vision to truly make itself a migrant-friendly nation.  Among others, it has taken steps to provide more options for foreigners to reside longer in the country, including the 10-year Golden Visa and other long-term visas for investors.

Questions? Feel free to get in touch with us here.




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