UAE Aims to Become International Human Investment Hub

The Gulf State is to Offer Citizenship to ‘Talented’ Foreigners in Attempt to Boost Economy
A picture taken on January 8, 2018 shows the skyline of Dubai with the Burj al-Arab in the foreground and Burj Khalifa (L) in the background. (Getty)

The United Arab Emirates announced on January 30 that the Emirati nationality will now be officially attainable for select foreigners and professionals, allowing people to establish deeper roots in the country and help progress its development.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE's Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said those who can qualify include investors, doctors, inventors, scientists, intellectuals and artists with in-demand skills. The aim is to attract talent and investment into the country that would "contribute to our development journey".

"We adopted law amendments that allow granting the UAE citizenship to investors, specialized talents & professionals, including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families. The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey," Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid wrote on his Twitter account.

There will be no application process though. Nominations can only be made via the courts of the rulers or crown princes of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, as well as via the emirates’ executive councils or the federal cabinet.

The government outlined several eligibility conditions.  Investors will need to own a property in the UAE, for example, while doctors and other medical specialists must be focused on a scientific discipline in demand in the UAE. Scientists are required to be actively involved in research and have at least 10 years’ experience, among other requirements. Inventors must have obtained one or more patents for their creations, while intellectuals or artists “should be pioneers in the culture and art fields” and have won international awards to prove it.

The move delighted many foreigners, mainly Arabs, living in UAE for many years and have built a stable life in the Gulf state where their children were born and educated.

"Of course, this is a crucial step to make foreigners feel stable and happy. Foreigners in the UAE are treated well and have an excellent quality of life," Sayed Ahmad, a teacher, told Majalla.

Low-income workers may not meet the conditions, but will still benefit from this move, he added, noting that the long-awaited step will enhance the UAE's investment status.

Nader Abu Nada, who has worked at a hotel in the UAE for many years, said the policy is mutually beneficial for both the UAE and foreigners as the Gulf state seeks to boost its position regionally and internationally by offering its citizenship for professionals and outstanding scientists, doctors, artists and all talented.

"I think the UAE will gain the most, as talented and professional individuals will bring more benefits to the country, which will raise its status on multiple fronts," he told Majalla.

Mahmoud Hendawai said that the decision surprised many people who have been longing for such a move.

"There are strict requirements which I can't meet, but people are generally pleased about this positive news," Hendawi, an employee at a UAE governmental body, told Majalla.

"It was a momentous step. Those granted the citizenship will get a pay rise, more allowances, privileges and incentives. Most foreigners have a dignified life in terms of salaries, services and everything," he argued.

He also explained that Emiratis are enthusiastic and happy about the decision, and believe that foreigners granted citizenship would bring further achievements for the country.

However, he said that while some Emiratis fear the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the economy, they nevertheless respect the rulers and officials' decisions.

"Arabs are delighted about the move, which will boost their sense of belonging. Those who don't directly benefit from the decision affirm that it will still benefit the country, including all workers. Services in the country are excellent, and people feel comfortable and safe. Living conditions are costly, but people are satisfied. Tolerance widely prevails, and the law is enforced on all people," he explained.

Sayed Fathi said the law amendments came as a surprise to many foreigners as there are several hurdles they will need to overcome. Still, it is a positive step for residents, particularly those living in the country for 30 years.

Foreign investors don’t consider moving their varied investments abroad due to the stability and comfort in the UAE, Fathi, a legal translator, told Majalla.

"The UAE is an investment hub because of wise political leadership. The country is trying to diversify its economy to face challenges and achieve integration between all sectors. The decision will re-activate the real estate sector that was affected by the 2007-2008 financial crisis," he argued.

He said that under the new amendments, foreigners can own properties and thus revive the sector. He also described the decision as "excellent" as it would help the UAE become a leading country in human investment. "Such decisions give rights to many people and encourage investors,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said that granting the UAE citizenship to investors and specialists demonstrates confidence in the crucial role they play in enhancing the economy and achieving sustainable development.

The step aims to back investors, and provide a safe and stable environment to them, their families and their businesses, he told UAE media.

Mubarak Hamad Al-Ameri, a member of the Board of Directors of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the decision would serve the national economy since the country is keen to attract talented people, doctors and investors as well as artists.

UAE officials strive to enhance the legislative and investment environment, and transform the country into an attractive destination for entrepreneurs, investors and capitalists, he added.