The United Arab Emirates says it will grant citizenship to foreign nationals as the nation known for its hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi struggles to pull its economy back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the UAE has occasionally granted citizenship to foreigners, it has been used infrequently despite its economy being completely reliant on expatriate labour and expertise since its formation back in 1971. Millions of foreigners live and work in Dubai, some for decades.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister and vice president of the UAE, said the offer could apply to artists, authors, doctors, engineers and scientists, and their families.
Sheikh Mohammed said it would be the rulers of the country's seven emirates and the government at the federal level that would decide who would be nominated for citizenship. It would allow those that take up the offer to retain their original citizenship.
It wasn't immediately clear if the citizenship also would grant rights to the UAE's cradle-to-grave social programs for its nationals.
The UAE is home to over 9 million people, only a tenth of them citizens. In November, the UAE announced plans to overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosening alcohol restrictions and criminalizing so-called “honor killings.”