New amendments to UAE citizenship


As the UAE has emerged as a leading location for living and investing in, more and more people are interested in obtaining Emirati citizenship. According to the latest ranking revealed by Henley & Partners, the UAE passport ranked the 15th most powerful worldwide in Q1 2022, since its holders can enter 167 destinations visa-free. In line with the amendments announced back in 2021, selected categories of foreigners can obtain Emirati citizenship, but only by nominations from Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, the Cabinet based on federal entities nominations and Executive Councils. Nevertheless, we have prepared an introductory article on how, and who can apply for UAE citizenship, as well as what the alternatives are.

NBD! Real estate agencies are not involved in the issuance of UAE citizenship, but we can provide assistance in obtaining a residency visa through direct investment in the state’s economy through the purchase of real estate.

UAE Citizenship Amendments

Back in January 2021, the UAE government approved a number of amendments to the citizenship law, enabling foreign doctors, scientists, artists, investors and talented specialists to take advantage of naturalization. This historic move aims to bolster the national development process and ensure the social stability of people with exceptional talents in the UAE, as foreigners here account for 90% of the population

These ground-breaking changes, taken upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

As mentioned previously, the obtainment of the Emirati citizenship can be achieved only through nominations from Rulers and Crown Princes Courts, Executive Councils and the Cabinet based on federal entities nominations, which is a very complex procedure. That being said, any UAE visa and citizenship can be obtained only through respective municipalities and government agencies

Our specialists at Metropolitan Capital Real Estate cannot help you acquire citizenship, however, we will gladly assist you with obtaining a residence visa through real estate investment, such as a Golden Visa. In fact, in line with the latest UAE visa overhaul, those investing in an off-plan/secondary property worth at least 2M (AED 545K), become eligible for a 10-year Golden Visa, which enables its holders to live, work and study in the UAE without the need for Emirati sponsorship. To qualify for this type of visa, the property can be mortgaged, and the duration of the stay outside the UAE does not nullify the Golden residence.

Our team can help you choose the most lucrative property option for investment, based on your needs and budget, as well as communicating with a seller, preparing the necessary paperwork and help to finalize the transaction in the respective government agencies to save you time and effort

NBD! In March 2022, the Abu Dhabi Residents’ Office (ADRO) announced an array of attractive option benefits for Golden Visa holders, including discounts on real estate, banking, hospitality and more. You can find more detailed information regarding the incentives in this article.

Eligible Categories of Candidates

The amendments highlighted the categories of individuals who can obtain citizenship under specific terms. Alongside granting citizenship to families (a spouse and children) of selected specialists, the law enables them to retain their current citizenship, as opposed to the earlier regulation that prohibited dual citizenship.

Below you will find the conditions for every category of nominees:

  • An investor is obliged to own real estate in the UAE.
  • A doctor/specialist has to be specialized in a scientific discipline of high demand in the UAE and must have recognized accredited academic contributions. At the same time, their practical experience must be a minimum of 10 years and the individual has to be a member of a respectable organization in the area of his/her specialization.
  • A scientist is obliged to be an active researcher either in the private sector, research center or a university. His/her practical experience must be no less than 10 years in the same field, and the nominee must have contributions in their respective field. In addition, the nominee has to provide a recommendation letter from a recognized scientific establishment in the UAE.
  • An inventor must have at least 1 patent approved by the UAE’ s Ministry of Economy (MoE) or any other reputable investment body, as well as a recommendation letter from the MoE.
  • Intellectuals and other creative talents have to be pioneers in the field of culture and art. As well as this, they must have won at least 1 global award, and a recommendation letter from at least one respective government entity has to be provided.

As well as the above, eligible candidates are obliged to take the oath of allegiance and loyalty to the UAE, comply with the UAE’s laws and inform the UAE government entity immediately in case of the loss or acquisition of any other citizenship. If any condition is breached, you risk losing Emirati citizenship.

NBD! If you are planning to move to the UAE on a long-term basis, you can take advantage of our legal services, where our specialists can help you buy/rent property, set up a business, open a bank account and much more, to facilitate you living in the UAE.

Process of Obtaining Emirati Citizenship

Currently, there are 3 ways to become a UAE citizen: by law, by citizenship and by naturalization. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) is the entity responsible for issues related to Emirati citizenship. As per the latest amendments, meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee that you will be granted citizenship, as the final decision has to be made exclusively by the central authorities.

The general protocol of the nomination is as follows:

  1. The UAE cabinet nominates and considers each candidate personally. For the examination of potential nominees, the main advisory committee and its sub-committees are organized under the governance of the ICA.
  2. Sub-committees from particular areas collect information on prospective candidates and nominate individuals who meet the above-mentioned requirements. If necessary, an additional investigation may take place.
  3. In the case of the approval, the application is handed over to the  advisory committee, which consists of 7 representatives from 7 emirates and they then make the final decision regarding the citizenship of the individual.

Benefits of UAE Citizenship

The UAE passport is the strongest in the GCC region and even in the larger Arab world. That being said, below you will find benefits of Emirati citizenship

  • Ownership of commercial properties in the UAE
  • Obtaining subsidized healthcare, fuel and education
  • Acquiring special incentives to purchase real estate in the UAE
  • Taking advantage of retirement plans from the age of 49
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