The United Arab Emirates has adopted amendments that would allow the Gulf state to grant citizenship to investors and other professionals including scientists, doctors and their families, the government said on Saturday.
"The UAE cabinet, local Emiri courts and executive councils will nominate those eligible for the citizenship under clear criteria set for each category," Dubai's ruler and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a twitter post.
"The law allows receivers of the UAE passport to keep their existing citizenship," Sheikh Mohammed added.
It was unclear if new passport holders would benefit from the public welfare system. The UAE spends billions of dollars each year on free education, healthcare, housing loans and grants for its estimated 1.4 million citizens.
Foreigners in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years tied to employment. The government in recent has made its visa policy more flexible, offering longer residencies for certain types of investors, students and professionals.
Last year, the government extended its "golden" visa system - which grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state - to certain professionals, specialised degree-holders and others.
Last year, the UAE abolished the need for companies to have Emirati shareholders, in a major shake-up of foreign ownership laws aimed at attracting investment into an economy reeling from the coronavirus and a decline in oil prices.
Foreign residents make up more than 80% of the UAE’s population and have for decades been a mainstay of its economy.
(Source: The Peninsula)