Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan yesterday issued federal decrees granting Emirati citizenship to 1,117 people who were born to Emirati women married to foreigners.
Nearly 5,000 beneficiaries were found to have met the conditions required to acquire citizenship, a senior official told Gulf News yesterday.
"The group of newly naturalised citizens will be followed by several other groups shortly, as nearly 5,000 candidates are eligible to gain citizenship," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.
The rule allows children of Emirati women, both naturalised and citizens from birth, to become UAE citizens once they are of legal age. The names were approved after the committee tasked with implementing the order reviewed the lists of names provided by the Ministry of Interior, WAM reported.
The committee approved the names during its previous meeting on January 31, and submitted the list to Shaikh Khalifa to issue the federal decrees granting the eligible people the Emirati citizenship.
As many as 5,000 more young men and women, who were born to naturalised Emirati women before the mothers gained citizenship, are looking with great hope to benefit from the rule, according to the official. "Lists of these people will be submitted to authorities for consideration," the official said.
Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, first deputy speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), said Shaikh Khalifa's gesture made a lifetime wishes of a group of people living in the country come true.
"The gesture is aimed at ensuring stability for citizens and strengthening unity of Emirati families. It also shows Shaikh Khalifa's concern for boosting loyalty for our home country."
The number of Emirati women marrying foreigners rose 15 per cent to 737 in 2010 from 643 cases in 2009, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Dr Mona Al Bahar, deputy executive director for care and rehabilitation of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, said the move would contribute a great deal in cementing family bonds in the Emirati society. "The move is a great solution to a humanitarian issue of great concern to citizens of this country particularly women," Dr Mona said.
Shaikh Khalifa's decree, granting citizenship to children of Emirati women married to foreigners, will apply only to children born after the mother's naturalisation, Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, acting Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation and Residency, told Gulf News.
"Emirati mothers can, for now, pass on their citizenship to their children born after they were granted citizenship," he said.
Shaikh Khalifa's decision, the first of its kind in the UAE and the Gulf, has been put into motion after Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, formed a committee to oversee the granting of citizenship to children of Emirati women married to foreigners. A number of Emirati women praised Shaikh Khalifa's decree as ‘lifeline' for women married to foreigners.
"These children have Emirati mothers, so why shouldn't they enjoy the same rights as the rest of the Emirati citizens, including their mother," Moza Al Nuaimi, told Gulf News.
"This is a great decision that will have positive impact and will pay back to the society. These people are Emiratis who have been raised in the UAE. Giving them the citizenship will instill in them a sense of belonging and commitment which will encourage them to be productive and give back to the society since they are part of it," said Ayesha Al Beloushi.
"I have lots of friends in this situation and I saw the happiness in their eyes when the decree was first issued. This decision will give a sense of stability and reassurance to the family," Hoda Al Hassani, office manager of a state minister said.
"I had tears when I first heard this decision. I am married to a GCC national and I was sad to see that my children, though Emiratis, were not enjoying the same rights," W.A. told Gulf News.