DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it will grant citizenship to foreign nationals as the nation known for its hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the UAE has occasionally granted citizenship to foreigners, it has been used infrequently despite its economy being completely reliant on expatriate labor and expertise since its formation back in 1971. Millions of foreigners live and work in Dubai, some for decades.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister and vice president of the UAE, said the offer could apply to artists, authors, doctors, engineers and scientists, and their families.
Sheikh Mohammed said it would be the rulers of the country’s seven emirates and the government at the federal level that would decide who would be nominated for citizenship. It would allow those that take up the offer to retain their original citizenship.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the citizenship also would grant rights to the UAE’s cradle-to-grave social programs for its nationals.
The UAE is home to over 9 million people, only a tenth of them citizens. In November, the UAE announced plans to overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws and criminalizing so-called “honor killings.”
The texts of the amendments of its laws governing citizenship that would grant citizenship to investors, entrepreneurs, professionals, and people with special talents in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated.
Two other amendments to the UAE’s Citizenship Act would also include prohibiting the use of a passport except for the purpose for which it was issued while another stipulates prohibiting the withholding of a passport in cases other than those legally established.
The UAE’s Cabinet in May 2018 adopted a new law of entry visas for investors and professionals and providing them with a long-term “Golden Residency” visa for up to 10 years.
Earlier in September, the Dubai government announced the launch of the “Retire in Dubai” program that will offer resident expatriates and foreigners aged 55 and above to apply for a retirement visa in its bid to turn the emirate into a retirement destination.