By Uglobal staff
The United Arab Emirates has amended its citizenship law to attract capital and intellectuals to the Gulf country. The newly adopted law amendments allow UAE citizenship to nominated investors, specialized talents and professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families, according to government sources.
However, the law is not a traditional citizenship by investment program but instead seems to be more of a merit-based naturalization where it is up to the discretion of the government to nominate and approve a candidate. The law does not specify a specific investment amount nor does it specify exactly who would be eligible as an intellectual in all categories. It also appears the law would only be open to those foreigners who get "nominated" for naturalization by the country's own cabinet, royal courts and government councils.
The Jan. 30 tweet of Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum , who is also the ruler of Dubai – one of the 7 emirates in the UAE – used the word "nominate" when making the announcement of the changes to the citizenship law, which, nonetheless, is a huge milestone in the gulf nation given the fact that for decades UAE, like most other gulf nations, almost never grant citizenship to foreigners.
"The UAE cabinet, local Emiri courts and executive councils will nominate those eligible for the citizenship under clear criteria set for each category. The law allows receivers of the UAE passport to keep their existing citizenship,” he tweeted. "The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey.”
The official statement from the Emirates News Agency – WAM - clarified that the law is an amendment to UAE's Executive Regulation of the Federal Law concerning Nationality and Passports. It would permit applicants and their families get the sought-after Emirati nationality and passport only after "certain conditions" are met. The nominated foreigners would be allowed to keep their previous nationalities,
The conditions that each of the categorized applicants for the Emirati citizenship must meet were specified as follows in the official statement:
1. Investors are required to own a property in the UAE. No investment value was given.
2. Doctors and specialists must be specialized in a unique scientific discipline or any other scientific principles that are highly required in the UAE, the applicant must have acknowledged scientific contributions, studies and research of scientific value and a practical experience of not less than 10 years, in addition to obtaining membership in a reputable organization in his field of specialization.
3. 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. They also should have contributions in the scientific field such as winning a prestigious scientific award or securing substantial funding for their research during the past ten years. It is also mandatory to obtain a recommendation letter from recognized scientific institutions in the UAE.
4. Inventors who are willing to acquire Emirati citizenship are required to 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, the official statement reads.
5. 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.
If any foreigner falls under any of the above categories and meets the listed conditions, then they would also have to meet some additional requirements as well, including "swearing the oath of allegiance, committing to abide by the Emirati laws and officially informing the respective government agency in case of acquiring or losing any other citizenship", the official statement added.
There is no doubt that many foreign investors around the world would be very excited with this latest development in the Gulf, which would be especially attractive to someone looking to not only expand their long-term business interests but also stay for a long time in the Middle East. There are many benefits to acquiring an Emirati citizenship and passport. Apart from enjoying visa-free travel to most countries, the Emirati citizenship would also allow an applicant to form their own commercial entities and properties in the lucrative emirate.
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