In a landmark move, the UAE’s leadership has announced a crucial amendment to the country’s citizenship law. The historic decision revealed on 30th January will make it possible for expat foreigners to acquire UAE citizenship and with it, an Emirati nationality and passport.

Wondering how this will work? You’re not alone! With further details around the implementation of the law yet to come in, some of the top questions on everyone’s mind are… What’s the qualification criteria? How will this law benefit you and your family?

Who’s eligible?

From what we know so far, the new law grants citizenship to specific categories of investors, skilled professionals, scientists and exceptionally talented individuals, along with their families.

Here’s a quick breakdown…

  • Under the ‘Investors’ category, you must own a property in the UAE. We’re yet to figure out whether there’s a minimum property value condition attached to this.
  • Skilled professionals including doctors and engineers among others, must be specialized in a scientific field that’s in high demand in the UAE. They must have a work experience of at least 10 years, along with a record of making valuable scientific and research-led contributions to their field of expertise. They must also be members of verified and reputable organizations in their field.
  • Scientists must also have a minimum practical experience of 10 years, having made valuable contributions in their field by way of winning prestigious awards in the scientific community or securing funding for their research. They must be an active researcher in a research center, university or private organization, and must also have a letter of recommendation from a UAE-based scientific institution.
  • Inventors can qualify on the basis of holding one or more patents certified by the UAE Ministry of Economy or another recognized international body. They must also have a letter of recommendation from the UAE Ministry of Economy.
  • Talented intellectuals, authors and artists should be pioneers in their field of art and culture, and should have won at least one international award in this field. They also require a letter of recommendation from the relevant UAE body.

How will this impact your future in the UAE?

With the nitty-gritty and fine print of the new law yet to be published, we can only predict how this will impact our future in the country. From the details provided to newspapers, we know that you will have to pledge your allegiance to the UAE, and take an oath to uphold and honor the laws of the country. The nationality status can also be stripped away if you violate the conditions upon which the citizenship has been granted.

We don’t have access to the complete list of rights and privileges of newly-minted citizens yet, but these will include the right to establish business and commercial entities, as well as buy and own properties across the UAE.

All in all, the new law makes living and working in the UAE a whole lot more attractive. Especially for those expats who have already spent a great chunk of their working lives in the UAE, the country now offers a permanent residence with all the perks of being a UAE national.

What if your home country does not allow dual citizenship?

There are many countries in the world that do not allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship – India being one of them. Although the UAE now permits qualifying individuals to avail dual citizenship, allowing them to retain their original nationality and passport, it is unclear how this will play out for Indians and expats from other countries that have banned dual passport ownership.

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