The UAE will now allow naturalization of investors and doctors, among other categories. The decision is a complete shift from the historical GCC practice of offering only visas to foreign nationals.
The UAE cabinet, local courts and executive councils will nominate those eligible for citizenship, UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter.
The Dubai ruler explained that the decision aims to attract the talents the kingdom needs to “contribute to our development journey”.
The new law identifies categories of foreigners who are eligible for UAE citizenship. Investors who own property in the UAE, doctors, engineers and scientists with ten or more years of experience, inventors with at least one patent certified by the UAE Ministry of Economy, and intellectuals and artists with an international award may all be granted citizenship.
Naturalized citizens may establish companies, and buy land and real estate. They are entitled to other rights extended by federal bodies as well.
The decision has been received well by the business community, the Gulf News reported.
The change in UAE policy has come gradually over the last three years. In 2018, the UAE allowed five- and ten-year visas to a select category of foreigners.
In 2019, it created a system of ‘Golden Card’ permanent residency.