February 1, 2021
Reading Time: 4 min

UAE to grant citizenship by investment and special merit for the first time in the country’s history

The government of the United Arab Emirates has identified new categories of foreigners who will now be able to apply for citizenship. The changes will affect investors, scientists, skilled professionals and members of the creative professions.

Zlata Erlach
Zlata Erlach

Head of the Austrian office

UAE citizenship will be issued by purchasing real estate

UAE to grant citizenship by investment and special merit for the first time in the country's history

The UAE passport will be issued if the candidate meets the listed conditions.

Conditions for obtaining UAE citizenship

Category of applicants

The candidate must:


  • own real estate in the UAE

Doctors and qualified specialists

  • specialize in a unique scientific discipline or adhere to scientific methods that are in demand at the UAE;

  • make a recognized contribution to science or conduct research of scientific value;

  • have at least 10 years of experience in scientific and professional activities;

  • be a member of a reputable organization in your field of scientific specialization


  • to conduct research at a university or private research center;

  • have at least 10 years of experience in scientific and professional activities;

  • contribute to science, such as winning a prestigious scientific award or receiving funding for their research over the past 10 years;

  • to receive a letter of recommendation from a recognized academic institution in the UAE


  • Inventors obtain one or more patents approved by the UAE Ministry of Economy or another reputable international body;

  • Get a letter of recommendation from the UAE Ministry of Economy

Representatives of creative professions

  • to be the pioneers of a direction in culture and the arts;

  • get one or more international awards;

  • Get a letter of recommendation from the relevant UAE government authorities

The wording of the conditions in some cases is vague. For example, for investors does not specify the minimum value of a real estate that must be owned in the UAE. A benchmark can be a requirement for foreigners to get a long-term visa with the right to live and work in the country. To get a visa for 5 years, an investor buys a property worth 5 million dirhams, or about $ 1.36 million.

Additional requirements. In order for a foreigner to obtain UAE citizenship, his candidacy must be approved by the Cabinet, the rulers and the executive councils of the emirates.

If the foreigner meets the conditions, he takes an oath and receives the country’s passport. But if at any time he violates any of the conditions, such as selling real estate, he will be stripped of his citizenship.

Who will get citizenship. The spouse and minor children of the applicant can also receive UAE citizenship. In this case, the foreigner is not obliged to give up the passport of his native country. But if he obtains or loses the citizenship of another state, he is obliged to notify the Ministry of Interior of the UAE.

The changes enshrine amendments to the Executive Order of the Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 on Citizenship and Passports. The UAE government has already adopted the amendments, but it is not specified when it will take effect.

The government is changing the law to attract more wealthy people, scientists and intellectuals to the country who will contribute to the development and prosperity of the state. In November 2020, for the same purpose, the government expanded the list of professionals who can get a visa to the UAE for 10 years. We talked about this in the article UAE Seeks Talent.

The UAE passport allows visa-free entry to 173 countries, including Schengen countries, Great Britain, China and Canada. Citizens of the country can live, work and open a business, study in the UAE without restrictions.

Other ways to get UAE citizenship

The change in UAE migration law is a historic event. The country’s passport is issued to foreigners only in exceptional cases, and applicants face serious restrictions.

A child whose father is a UAE citizen can obtain citizenship by birth. Children born in the country to unknown parents are also recognized as citizens.

Through marriage, citizenship is granted only to a woman whose future spouse is a UAE citizen. But before applying for citizenship, the spouses must have lived together for at least 5 years.

Naturalization assumes that the foreigner has lived in the UAE for at least 30 years. Only candidates with a good reputation and a permanent source of income in the country are considered. A foreigner also needs to be fluent in Arabic. To obtain UAE citizenship by naturalization, the candidate will have to give up the passport of another state.

For special merits. In exceptional cases, the UAE government awards the foreigner with the nationality of the country. The merit passport is awarded personally by the ruler of one of the emirates.

Earlier it was impossible to get citizenship by investing — only a long-term visa with the right to live and work in the country. It was issued for 5 or 10 years.

Visa for 5 years is issued for an investment in real estate of 5 million dirhams, or about $ 1.36 million. You have to own the property for at least three years.

UAE Visa for 10 years is for a business issued investment of 10 million dirhams or about 2.7 million dollars. The foreigner opens a deposit in a bank for this amount or registers a company in the UAE.

UAE citizenship by real estate investment in 2021

88% of the UAE population is foreigners. A third of them live in Dubai

Citizenship by purchasing real estate in other countries

A foreigner can get a second passport by investing in real estate in several European and Caribbean countries.

Maltese citizenship is granted by naturalization for special services. A foreigner first obtains a residence permit, and after a year or three years apply for citizenship. One of the conditions is to buy or rent accommodation on the island. The minimum purchase amount — 700,000 €, rent — 16,000 € per year.

Citizenship of Montenegro can be obtained by investing from 350 000 € in tourist real estate — hotels and resort complexes. The government of the country approves objects for investment under the program.

Caribbean countries allow you to get citizenship by investing in real estate from $ 200,000. Participants in investment programs invest in approved projects: buy shares, apartments and villas in five-star hotel complexes.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent of European and Caribbean citizenship programs by investment. If you would like to obtain a second passport, seek advice from investment programs experts.