The United Arab Emirates has announced a significant change of policy regarding Emirati nationality, with it now being available for selected specialists.
The country, which has a high expatriate population (around 90% of the population), has made several moves in the last 12 months to make residency and citizenship of the Gulf state more attractive to foreigners. This is in part in reaction to thousands of expat professionals leaving the country during the global Covid-19 crisis and its impact on the economy.
The powerful UAE passport will be offered to “investors, doctors, specialists, inventors, scientists, talents, intellectuals, artists and their families”.
“The United Arab Emirates has approved amendments … allowing investors, professionals, special talents and their families to acquire the Emirati nationality and passport under certain conditions,” the UAE government news agency WAM said in a press release.
“The step aims at appreciating the talents and competencies present in the UAE and attracting more bright minds to the Emirati community in a way that contributes to the development and prosperity of the country.”
Citizenship is not available simply by application – people would have to be nominated and then approved by the government.
UAE relaxing rules to make Dubai and Abu Dhabi even more attractive
Recently the UAE has relaxed rules on cohabitation and alcohol, while also allowing 100% foreign ownership of businesses outside of free zones (previously it required 51% local ownership). In August 2020, the UAE surprised its neighbours by normalising diplomatic relations with Israel.
This latest move to grant citizenship to select individuals follows enhancements of its Golden Visa program, which offers 10-year residency to certain professionals and degree holders. The UAE also recently announced a digital nomad visa.
“This historic announcement is a significant development in the investment migration industry and is sure to raise a lot of interest,” said RIF Trust CEO and Vice Chairman of the Latitude Group, Mimoun A. Assraoui.
“The new policy is in line with the government’s previous announcement relating to its 10-year Golden Visa scheme, which grants wealthy property investors, entrepreneurs and creatives with permanent residency in the UAE. As the leading citizenship and residency by investment advisory in the Middle East and Africa, with our headquarters based in Dubai, we have already started receiving many inquiries for this new citizenship scheme and are in contact with the local authorities to ensure the proper implementation of this exciting new policy. We are well poised to guide UAE expatriates and their families through this developing situation.”
The UAE will now join 12 other countries offering citizenship through making a significant contribution to the economy of a country, although details of the investment required are at this stage unclear.