UAE now opens citizenship to foreigners with special talents

This change overturns decade old citizenship policies.

Krystien Meyers
January 31, 2021 6:42 PM

The United Arab Emirates is now offering passports to investors, doctors and other foreigners with special skills that are in demand. This comes as a huge shake in the policies in places for decades now. 

Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said this is being implemented to attract talent and investment into the country. With the economy taking an all-time low due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is assumed that the economy will not rise back up to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

The government said those who can qualify include investors, doctors, inventors, scientists, intellectuals and artists. Their spouses and children will also benefit and all will be allowed to retain their existing nationality.

How many people will be able to claim citizenship is not yet decided. 

However, a certain set of application rules still do apply, Investors will need to own a property in the UAE, for example, while doctors and other medical specialists must be focused on a scientific discipline in demand in the UAE. Scientists are required to be actively involved in research and have at least 10 years’ experience, among other requirements. Inventors must have obtained one or more patents for their creations, while intellectuals or artists “should be pioneers in the culture and art fields” and have won international awards to prove it.

Expat residents make up more than 80% of the population of the UAE’s seven Emirates and have been impertinent to the economy for decades. But they lacked a clear path to citizenship, including if they were born and raised in the country.

Individuals cannot simply apply though. Nominations can only be made via the courts of the rulers or crown princes of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, as well as via the emirates’ executive councils or the federal cabinet. It is not yet clear how the process will work in practice.

The citizenship can be withdrawn upon breach of the conditions, according to the statement. It was not immediately clear whether those who will be bestowed citizenship would have the full rights and benefits of people born Emirati.