As more than 90% of UAE residents are foreigners and have been extending their stay through visa renewals, the UAE’s strict citizenship and passport laws have presented a challenge. However, the government has announced plans to ease the residency requirements, allowing more foreign nationals to qualify for citizenship and fostering a more diverse and inclusive society. With the new UAE nationality laws, foreigners now have the opportunity to obtain UAE citizenship and a navy blue passport, provided they meet certain criteria. Discover how you can obtain UAE citizenship in 2024 and gain access to one of the world’s strongest passports in this article.
What Were the Previous Conditions of Getting UAE Nationality?
Before 2021, strict rules applied to those who wanted to obtain UAE citizenship rights. Very few, and under extremely specific circumstances, could apply for citizenship and obtain a UAE passport. The only way for foreigners to live or work in the country was by obtaining residency visas. Since they weren’t citizens, they couldn’t purchase commercial properties in the UAE.
The expatriate community faces other problems too. For instance, Indians, who constitute a significant portion of the UAE’s expatriate community, had to go through the process of Indian passport renewal in the UAE over and over. This was to keep their visas valid. Some of the resident foreigners were also considering leaving the UAE and trying their luck in countries with less strict nationality laws.
Prior to 2021, the only ways to get UAE nationality and citizenship were as follows:
Nationality by Law
In 1971, when the emirates of the UAE were unified, Arab individuals who had lived in any of the emirates from 1925 to 1972 were granted nationality by law. This eligibility was later extended to their families, including newborns. Children born to an Emirati father are granted nationality by law, regardless of their place of birth. The same applies to children of Emirati mothers, as long as they are supported by their fathers. Even children born to unknown parents or fathers of unknown citizenship in the UAE are eligible for nationality by law, provided they can provide proof of birth in the country.
Nationality by Citizenship
Nationality by citizenship applies to foreign women who marry UAE citizens. Wives of UAE nationals can submit their citizenship application to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), and nationality will usually be granted to them seven years after the submission of their application. Children born to UAE citizens and their foreign wives will have their citizenship granted to them automatically at birth. Furthermore, foreign mothers who have been granted UAE citizenship can apply for their children to receive the same.
What Does the New UAE Nationality Laws State?
In January 2021, new amendments to the UAE Citizenship Law were approved by the country’s Cabinet. The Cabinet was under the official instruction of UAE’s president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and was led by the Prime Minister and Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (check out our guide to the UAE royal families to learn more about the Emirati ruling class). These new amendments revise the Executive Regulation of the Federal Law regarding Nationality and Passports.
UAE officials have been considering these modifications for two years. According to the new nationality laws, certain categories of foreigners can apply for UAE citizenship if they meet specific criteria. The revised rules were great news for the UAE expatriate community, who have lived in the country for years. Now expatriates can become UAE citizens and benefit from the perks of UAE passports.
The new amendments also allow dual nationality. This means you don’t have to abolish your previous nationality and give up your original passport. You can hold both a UAE passport and another country’s passport at the same time.
New UAE Nationality Laws: Universality and Diversity
The UAE government has recognized the importance of diversity and inclusiveness, and the new UAE nationality laws contribute to the nation’s inclusivity. It inspires the notion that if you give your best to a country, you can call it your home. The new nationality laws also allow the government to use expatriates’ talents to the fullest. However, they also attract the most talented and brightest workforce, investors, and minds from all around the globe to contribute to the development of the nation.
Wherever there is diversity, there is also growth. The future that the UAE government pictures for the country is a cosmopolitan utopia of peace, growth, and prosperity. The urban infrastructure for such a utopia has been established, and the newly-passed amendments take the nation one step closer to the realization of this dream. The new UAE Nationality Laws will not only benefit expatriates who have been living in the country for years. They will also attract talented and skilled individuals who can contribute to the growth of the UAE. This will be a great opportunity for the best property developers in the UAE, as they can now capitalize on the skills of these individuals to create world-class real estate developments.
Who Is Eligible for UAE Citizenship?
The aim of the new UAE nationality law is to attract people from all around the world who can contribute to the nation’s growth and development, whether with their talents or through investment. On these grounds, seven categories of foreigners can be nominated for UAE citizenship. These categories are as follows:
- Individuals with creative talents, such as artists
Any individual that fits into one of these categories and meets the prerequisite criteria can be nominated for Emirati citizenship. Moreover, the families of these individuals (spouses and children) can also acquire UAE citizenship. Both the individual and their family will retain their current nationality.
Eligibility Conditions and Laws for Becoming a UAE National in the Past
Before the approval of the new UAE nationality law, all eligible nominees that fit into the aforementioned categories were granted a 10-year residence visa. This was if they met certain criteria. You can still apply for a residency visa instead of citizenship and check your UAE visa status online anytime you need.
After obtaining residency visas, nominees had to go through a period of naturalization, usually involving living in the UAE for 30 years. During their naturalization period, citizenship nominees were obliged to abide by Emirati laws and also inform government officials in case of acquiring or losing any other citizenship. These general requirements still apply to eligible nominees after the approval of the new amendments.
When becoming a citizen, candidates were and still have to take the oath of allegiance and loyalty to the UAE. If the terms and conditions were breached in any way, their nationality would be withdrawn. The same rules apply to the eligible nominees according to the new law.
Eligibility Conditions and Laws for Becoming a UAE National in 2024
Nowadays, thanks to the new UAE nationality law, if you meet certain criteria (which we will thoroughly review in the following sections), you won’t have to pass through a naturalization period, and you can apply for citizenship directly. The conditions under which foreigners can be nominated for UAE citizenship vary from one category to another. The following are the criteria each category must meet to be considered a nominee:
1. UAE Citizenship Requirements for Investors
As an investor, you must own a property in the UAE to be considered for citizenship. This is one of the easiest options for the UAE’s expatriate community and for foreigners who want UAE nationality.
Major cities in the UAE, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, feature ultramodern urban architecture and infrastructure and offer their residents an extremely high quality of life. You can buy property in Dubai or invest in real estate in Abu Dhabi and live a life that feels like a sweet dream. The best neighborhoods to buy property in Dubai vary depending on the investor’s budget and personal preferences. Areas such as Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Residence, and Palm Jumeirah are some of the most sought-after neighborhoods. These areas offer an array of luxury apartments, villas, and penthouses that offer stunning views of the city skyline and the sea. You will not only get a residency visa but also have the chance to become a citizen of the UAE by investing in these areas.
However, you are not bound to these metropolises. The country’s real estate market is quite vibrant. You can easily find a wide range of properties for sale in the UAE across all of its seven Emirates.
Other Investment Sectors in UAE for Becoming a UAE National in 2024
Aside from the real estate market, the UAE offers several other investment sectors too, including the following:
- Investing in local investment funds
- Establishing an existing business with a certain minimum capital
- Purchase a certain minimum of share value and enter into a partnership with an existing or a new enterprise
You can also invest in all three sectors. However, your investment in each sector must not be less than 60 percent of your total investment. If you want to obtain UAE citizenship as an investor, you have to fulfill two additional requirements aside from having financial competence. These requirements are:
- Proving you have sufficient funds and are not relying on loans to make your investment
- Committing to keeping the investment for at least three years
Obtaining UAE nationality through investment has an additional perk over other categories. If you are an investor and meet the criteria for becoming a UAE citizen, your visa can be extended to include your business partners as well. This is provided they have contributed a certain minimum to the business.
If you already own an internationally recognized business, you don’t have to invest in other businesses to be considered a nominee for UAE citizenship. You can obtain UAE nationality as an executive.
2. Nationality Laws for Scientists
If you want to become a UAE national as a scientist, you must be an active researcher at a university, research center, or in the private sector. You must also have a minimum of 10 years practical experience in your field of expertise. Your case will be reviewed by one of the recognized scientific institutions in the UAE, such as the Emirates Scientists Council. If you receive a recommendation letter, you will be nominated for UAE citizenship.
3 – 4. UAE Citizenship Conditions for Doctors or Specialists
If you are a doctor or a specialist and you want to acquire UAE citizenship as a special talent, you must meet at least two of the criteria listed below:
- Hold a PhD degree acquired from one of the top 500 universities in the world
- Have won awards or certificates of appreciation
- Contributed to major scientific research
- Have publications (articles or books).
- Be a member of a prominent organization in your field of expertise
- Have at least 10 yearsyears of practical experience in your field
- Specialize in a scientific discipline of high demand in the UAE
5 – 6. Laws Regarding Intellectuals and Creative Talents
Intellectuals and those with creative talents who want to become citizens of the UAE must be pioneers in art and culture. They must have won at least one international award and hold an official letter of recommendation from related government entities. Your case will be reviewed by the UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Youth. If you receive accreditation, you will be nominated for UAE citizenship rights.
7. Nationality Criteria for Inventors
The most important requirement for inventors who want UAE nationality is having internationally recognized patterns. In order to be considered a citizenship nominee, inventors must have one or two patents approved by a reputable international body. This includes the UAE’s Ministry of Economy (MoE). If you are an investor, your valuable patent must contribute to the UAE’s economy. The MoE grants the owners of the approved patterns a letter of recommendation which is necessary for them to be considered as a nominee for UAE citizenship.
If you fit into one of these categories, you can become a UAE citizen. Keep in mind that citizenship applications are not submitted directly. You can obtain UAE nationality only through the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, the Offices of the Executive Councils, and the Cabinet. It’s best to contact the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) if you need more information. After becoming a citizen, you will be granted a UAE passport. We have prepared a thorough guide on how to get the UAE passport in another article.
Major Benefits of Getting the UAE Nationality
Becoming a UAE citizen comes with a plethora of beneficial perks. We have listed some of the major ones below:
- Citizenship rights: A significant portion of the UAE’s expatriate community, who constitute a whopping 90% of the country’s population, have worked in the UAE for years. Becoming a UAE citizen allows them to prosper further and expand their businesses. They will be able to open bank accounts, register their assets without restrictions, and establish companies in the UAE.
- Strong passport: The UAE passport is one of the strongest passports in the world in terms of mobility. Having achieved the global rank of 15th based on the Henley index, the navy blue passport allows its owner to travel to 175 different countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival. If you want to know more, we have covered all about the UAE passportin another article for your convenience.
- Tax-free businesses: The United Arab Emirates is a paradise for those who want to free themselves from taxes because it features one of the most attractive tax policies in the world. No tax income is collected from individuals, and filling out a tax return is not required. Furthermore, foreign income from outside the UAE will not be taxed either.
- Never-ending fun and charm: The UAE is full of wonders and attractions. Only in Dubai can you spend a lifetime and still fail to taste all it has got to offer. From Burj Khalifa and Atlantis the Palm to a plethora of other opulent resorts and enormous shopping centers, this metropolis enchants you with wonders you have never seen. The UAE’s unique climate also provides vast deserts perfect for hosting visitors who want to spend a night or two on their fine sands.
- Colorful culture: You’ll taste delicious cuisine and enjoy a wide range of traditional sports in the UAE. The country also has a rich history full of ups and downs. In fact, the UAE has an exciting story behind everything, from its passport to its flag.
- UAE National Day: This holiday commemorates the unification of the seven emirates of the UAE and the birth of the nation in 1971. The whole country goes extra-vibrant during this long holiday, and you can find exuberant events around every corner of every city. Become a UAE citizen, and you’ll get to spend the time of your life in this country on the UAE national day. We have gathered a thorough list of things to do on the UAE national dayso that you can plan your days off.
Now that you have learned all about the new UAE nationality law, you can check if you are eligible for UAE citizenship rights. A UAE nationality can be acquired through investment or by getting recognized as an individual with special talents and skills critical to the nation’s growth.
UAE citizenship was once exclusive to Emiratis and their children and spouses. However, the government recognized the importance of diversity and inclusiveness, and nowadays, thanks to the new amendments to the UAE nationality laws, investors, doctors, specialists, inventors, scientists, intellectuals, and individuals with creative talents, such as artists can now be nominated for becoming citizens of the UAE if they meet certain criteria. The announcement of the amendments was also great news for the UAE’s expatriate community, which has been calling the country its home for years.
Acquiring UAE citizenship by investment is one of the easiest ways of obtaining Emirati nationality. The UAE’s real estate market is one of the safest investment sectors. If you want to buy UAE off-plan properties and become a citizen, don’t hesitate to contact our team at Dxboffplan website.
frequently asked questions
Foreign nationals who meet certain criteria, such as investors, entrepreneurs, professionals, and special talents, may be eligible for UAE citizenship under the new laws.
UAE citizenship offers several benefits, including access to social services, voting rights, and the ability to own property. It also provides security and stability for those who make the UAE their home.