UAE Citizenship Rules: Explained


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The UAE has welcomed foreign nationals from every corner of the globe for many years. An estimated 80% of the country’s population are foreign nationals.

While all enjoy the many benefits of UAE residency, such as a high quality of life, a safe and stable environment, and minimal taxation, until now citizenship was not a possibility for most.

That all changed recently when the UAE announced sweeping changes to the citizenship and immigration system. Under the new rules, talented foreigners across a wide range of fields are eligible to become permanent citizens of the country.

Below is an overview of the new rules and what they mean for foreign investors in the UAE.

Recapping UAE citizenship news 2021

In what is undoubtedly the biggest UAE citizenship news of 2021, or indeed, any year, the UAE is now officially welcoming potential new citizens.

Under the latest amendments to citizenship law, eligible foreigners can apply to become naturalised Emiratis. The new law applies to investors, outstanding talents in the arts, and professionals in certain industries.

As it stands, candidates for citizenship must be nominated by federal bodies in each emirate and approved by the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, Executive Councils, and the Cabinet. However, many believe this process is likely to relax in the years ahead.

UAE citizenship for expats

However eligibility criteria will likely change in the future, one thing is for certain right now. For the first time in its history, the door to the UAE is open to new citizens.

This is a significant development for the nation’s expats. With residency tied to employment, there has previously always been a level of uncertainty when it comes to planning for the future.

With a route to citizenship, many of these expats can now begin to plan long term, beyond work, for a life in the UAE.

Who is eligible for UAE citizenship?    

Officially UAE citizenship is open to the following individuals and their families:

  • Artists
  • Doctors
  • Intellectuals
  • Inventors
  • Investors
  • Scientists
  • Specialists
  • Talents


However, there are conditions to be met in all categories. Artists and creatives must be pioneers in their fields, having won at least one international award.

Doctors and specialists must have practical experience spanning at least a decade and be recognised as outstanding in a unique discipline or one that is highly desired in the UAE.

Scientists must be active researchers at a university or similar, once again with at least ten years of practical experience.

Inventors must hold one or more patents approved by a reputable international body while investors must own UAE real estate.

What are the benefits of UAE citizenship?

UAE citizenship brings with it a number of highly lucrative benefits. Already, it is being viewed by some as being among the best second citizenship programmes in the world.

As well as a UAE passport, one of the strongest in the world for mobility, current UAE citizens benefit from 0% tax on personal and corporate income, subsidised fuel and world-class education and healthcare, real estate incentives and preferable rates, pension and other retirement benefits from just 49 years of age.

New UAE citizens are also not required to renounce any previous citizenship.

UAE citizenship for investors

Right now, it appears that investors have the clearest route to citizenship. And while the minimum investment criteria is are yet to be announced, it’s never too early to start building your real estate portfolio in the UAE.

Citizenship aside, trading in real estate in the UAE can be a lucrative business, with rental yields often outstripping those in Hong Kong and Sydney.

To invest in real estate, you’ll need to form a company and obtain a real estate license. As the holder of a trade license, you are permitted to live and work in the UAE. You can also sponsor your spouse, children, and other dependants for their residency visas.

And, until reforms relax further, and citizenship becomes a possibility for a greater number of foreign nationals, residency remains the best way to benefit from life in this part of the world.

Take the first steps to UAE citizenship with Business Incorporation Zone

The fastest and most affordable way to become a UAE resident – and ultimately, a citizen – is to start a business. And the good news is, with the right support, doing so is incredibly straightforward.

The first step is to partner with a company formation specialist who knows the local environment and can manage your trade license application on your behalf. That specialist is Set Hub.

We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.

We’ll manage every step of the company setup and visa process on your behalf – helping you choose and register a company name, outlining your business activities, liaising with all government and trade bodies, and ensuring your application is free from costly errors and omissions.

As well as handling your license application, Set Hub can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.

We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visa applications that are required to trade in the UAE.

In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with what you do best, running your business.

To find out more about the recent changes to citizenship regulations, or to start your trade license application, get in touch with the expert team at Set Hub today. Call toll-free on 800 SETHUB (738482) or email [email protected].