UAE proposes granting citizenship to expats meeting certain criteria

The United Arab Emirates is set to amend its laws governing citizenship to make it possible for foreign investors, entrepreneurs, professionals and people with special talents to receive Emirati nationality provided they meet certain criteria.

The proposed amendments have not yet been formally published but, according to the Arabian Business website – which posted an excerpt of a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) circular showing the texts of amendments to the Citizenship Act – an applicant for UAE citizenship would be required to:

  • Renounce his/her original nationality or any other nationality he/she holds;
  • Have had a lawful and continuous residence in the country;
  • Be fluent in the Arabic language;
  • Demonstrate a legitimate means of subsistence;
  • Hold an academic qualification;
  • Be of good conduct;
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that violates honour or trust, unless he/she is rehabilitated;
  • Obtain security approval;
  • Swear an oath of allegiance to the UAE state.

A further proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act stipulates that a foreign woman married to a UAE citizen may be exempted from the application of the condition requiring an academic qualification.

In 2018, the UAE cabinet adopted a new law to introduce residency visas for investors and professionals, which offers a long-term ‘Golden Visa’ for up to 10 years duration, but not citizenship. This latest MoJ proposal for UAE citizenship is currently being finalised. If approved by the UAE Cabinet, an official announcement would then be issued in the UAE official gazette.

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