The Mysterious UAE Citizenship: A Changing Landscape for Investors and Expats


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been known for its strict citizenship policies, making it nearly impossible for foreigners to become naturalized citizens. However, recent developments signal a shift in the UAE’s approach towards citizenship and residence rules. In this article, we explore the UAE’s evolving citizenship landscape and what it means for investors, expats, and global nomads looking to call the UAE home.

UAE’s Exclusive Citizenship: A Thing of the Past?

The UAE’s citizenship has been notoriously difficult to obtain, even for long-term residents and spouses of Emirati citizens. However, in 2021, the UAE government announced plans to grant citizenship to select investors, scientists, and doctors who have made significant contributions to the country’s economy or development. In April 2022, Telegram creator and billionaire Pavel Durov became the first high-profile foreigner to receive UAE citizenship. Although no other investors or celebrities have been granted citizenship since, the UAE appears to be gradually opening its doors to foreigners.

A New Era: Golden Visas and Permanent Residence

The UAE’s shift towards welcoming long-term residents is evident in its recent introduction of new programs, such as the Reduced Amount Golden Visa. This visa grants a 10-year residence permit, extendable every 10 years, with an investment of $550,000 in property. A 10-year Golden Visa can also be obtained by investing $2.7 million in a UAE-based business.

The UAE has hinted at the possibility of granting permanent residence to individuals who complete their 10-year Golden Visa term, signaling a potential first step towards citizenship. It is speculated that investors who demonstrate strong ties to the country, such as owning multiple properties, operating businesses, or relocating their families to the UAE, may be offered citizenship after qualifying for permanent residence.

Future Requirements: Arabic Language and Financial Investments

Although the exact citizenship requirements have yet to be outlined, it is likely that the UAE will require applicants to learn Arabic, the local language heavily used in government affairs. Furthermore, the UAE may introduce a financial metric for citizenship eligibility, such as a minimum investment of $20 million.

Is UAE Citizenship Worth Pursuing?

Obtaining UAE citizenship may be worth the effort for individuals who want to live long-term in the country or have a rare and exclusive passport. For those simply looking to expand their passport portfolio or establish a plan B, the UAE’s citizenship process may be too time-consuming and complicated compared to other countries offering citizenship by investment programs.

A Future Hub for Global Citizens?

The UAE’s recent moves to relax citizenship and residence rules indicate a commitment to creating a more inclusive environment for foreign residents. While UAE citizenship may not yet be accessible for the average wealthy individual, the country’s evolving policies suggest that it could become more attainable in the coming years. As the UAE strives to become one of the world’s best countries to live in, global citizens may soon find a welcoming home in this dynamic nation.

Final Thoughts

The UAE’s citizenship landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, making it an increasingly attractive destination for investors and expats alike. While the path to citizenship remains exclusive and challenging, the introduction of the Golden Visa and potential permanent residence options indicates a promising future for foreign residents. If you’re considering the UAE as your home or seeking a prestigious passport, it may be worth keeping an eye on the country’s evolving policies and opportunities.

Thomas Raynott

Thomas Raynott

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