Dubai - In a historic move, the UAE on Saturday announced major changes to the citizenship law, to allow for the naturalisation of foreign investors, doctors, scientists, artists and talented people and their families.
The decision to give people with exceptional talents and their families the Emirati citizenship aims to embrace them as members of part of the UAE society, ensure the social stability of these people in the country and boost the overall national development process.
The changes, taken upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday.
The decision specified the categories of the people who can be granted the citizenship, under certain conditions. In addition to granting the citizenship to the families- the spouse and children of this specialised and skilled segment, the law allows for them to also keep their current citizenship, which is a major change to the previous rule that doesn’t allow for dual citizenship.
The law detailed the terms and conditions upon which the citizenship can be granted:
Investors: Must own a property in the UAE
Medical doctors and skilled professionals: Must be specialised in a unique scientific field that is needed by the UAE, have contributed to studies and research that have scientific value in their field, have 10 years of experience in that field in addition to a membership in a prestigious professional organisation in his field.
Scientists: Must be an active researcher in their field at a university, a research institute or the private sector, have 10 years of experience in that field, have scientific contributions- such as having won a prestigious scientific award, or having secured a significant funding for their research for 10 years, in addition to a recommendation letter from a credited scientific institute in the UAE.
Inventors: they must have had at least one patent certified by the UAE Ministry of Economy or any accredited relevant international body, which has a real value to the UAE economy, in addition to a recommendation letter from the UAE Ministry of Economy.
Intellectuals and artists: they must be pioneers in culture, arts and other talents with at least one international award in those talents in addition to a recommendation letter from the UAE relevant bodies.
The new law stipulates the terms and conditions of the granting of citizenship to those talented segments, such as the oath and swearing in allegiance to the UAE, a pledge to uphold and respect the laws of the country, informing the relevant authority if they get a new citizenship or lost one.
Meanwhile, the changes also specified the rights of those who are granted the UAE citizenship under the new law, such as the right to establish and own companies in the UAE, buy and own land and real estate property in the country, in addition to any other right extend to them by the federal bodies, with the approval of the Cabinet, or by local government bodies.
The decision also said that the UAE citizenship can be stripped from those categories in such cases as the violation of the legal commitment or losing at least one of the conditions upon which a person was granted the citizenship.
The new law specified the citizenship process, saying that those qualified for the citizenship would be nominated through the Emirates’ rulers court, the courts of the crown princes, the executive council in an emirate or the cabinet.
Saturday’s decision, the first major change to the UAE nationality law No.17 of 1972 on Nationality and Passports, represents a milestone in the Arab world, which usually restrict the naturalisation process to a very limited cases and mostly bans dual citizenship. The UAE has taken several steps recently to ensure the social stability of those with long time residency in the country and those who contribute to the wellbeing and development of the society through the introduction in 2019 of the permanent residency scheme, which allowed for granting 5 and 10 year ‘Golden Visas’ to certain categories of residents. Thousands of people have been given the Gold Visa in the past two years, including investors, medical professionals, engineers, scientists and specialised talents.
The new changes put the UAE on par with many developed nations that appreciate the talents of expatriates by awarding them the citizenship, ensuring in the process their social stability and secure a future for them and their families in the country.