The United Arab Emirates plans to offer citizenship to a select group of foreigners, the first Gulf Arab nation to formalize a process aimed at giving expatriates a bigger stake in the economy. This is reported by Bloomberg.
Oil-rich Gulf states have been forced to consider longer residency and limited citizenship for foreigners as they seek to attract investment and diversify. Until now citizenship in the UAE and some other Gulf states has been reserved for foreigners in special cases, including for service to the state, but these changes will formalize and widen such a process.
“The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey,” Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a tweet. The changes will allow the UAE to grant citizenship to selected investors and professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families, he added.
Gulf governments have long resisted offering permanent residency to their millions of foreign workers, guarding generous privileges enjoyed by their citizens. But forced by the 2014 oil-price slump to prepare their economies for a post-fossil fuel world, they are now seeking to entice wealthy people to stay. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have taken steps toward allowing some expatriates permanent residency.
According to a statement on UAE state news agency WAM, the conditions that must be met to secure the citizenship are:
- Investors must own a property in the UAE.
- They must obtain one or more patents that are approved by the UAE Ministry of Economy or any other reputable international body, in addition to a recommendation letter from the Economy Ministry
- Doctors and specialists must be specialized in a unique scientific discipline or any other scientific principles that are highly required in the UAE.
- Scientists are required to be an active researcher in a university or research center or in the private sector, with a practical experience of not less than 10 years in the same field.
- Individuals with creative talents such as intellectuals and artists should be pioneers in the culture and art fields and winners of one or more international award. A recommendation letter from related government entities is mandatory as well.
The citizenship can be withdrawn upon breach of the conditions, according to the statement.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.