Owing to the 2021 regulations passed by the UAE government, the country has emerged as one of the top places in the world for obtaining citizenship. Previously, UAE had restricted its citizenship policy to the following individuals:

  • Citizens of other countries who had resided in the United Arab Emirates for a minimum period of thirty years and can speak fluent Arabic. In this case, the individual had to give up any other existing citizenship they may have held.
  • UAE citizenship by marriage – Women (non-UAE citizens) who had been married to a UAE citizen for a minimum of seven years.
  • Foreigners honored with the UAE passport from one of the heads/leaders of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE government approved amendments extending citizenship to qualified foreign nationals, which has helped the nation accelerate economic growth.

Who qualifies for UAE citizenship?

In 2021, the UAE introduced a new addition to the Executive Regulation of the Federal Law concerning Nationality and Passports. This was done to help advance the country’s economy. This section will take you through the various categories and eligibility criteria of how to become a citizen in Dubai that have been added to allow more individuals to apply for citizenship in the UAE.

Exceptional merit

obtain uae citizenship uae ministry uae citizens federal authority granted citizenship recognize dual citizenship marriage certificate federal law citizenship eligibility birth certificates criminal record higher education child born health care arabic languageApplicants who fall under the following criteria can be nominated for UAE citizenship by UAE royals or officials. Your candidacy must be approved by the Cabinet. 

  • Doctors: You must have a minimum of ten years of experience, hold membership of a reputable organization in your field and must have made a recognized scientific contribution to your field.
  • Inventors: You must have at least one patent approved by the UAE Ministry of Economy or another reputable international organization.
  • Scientists: You must have a minimum of ten years of experience in their field and must have at least one prestigious international award or a research grant in your field.
  • Creative talents deemed innovators in their field: You must have at least one patented invention, must have an international award, and must have a recommendation from a government agency in your field
  • Investors: Those who have bought real estate in the UAE

The individuals described above are eligible for the UAE’s Golden Visa. This long-term residence visa allows foreign talents to live, work, and study in the UAE while enjoying exclusive benefits. It is renewable and valid for five or ten years without needing a sponsor.

We will now look more in-depth at the categories and criteria outlined above.

Scientists and researchers

  • Individuals in the fields of life or natural sciences, engineering, or technology
  • Individuals should have a Ph.D. or Master’s degree in their field from one of the world’s leading universities.
  • Your research achievements must have impacted your field.
  • You are a professional with a minimum of ten years of academic experience.
  • You must have a reference letter from a reputed academic institution.
  • You must have been conferred with a minimum of one international award for your contribution to a vital scholarship/research grant in the last ten years.
  • The Emirates Scientists Council recommendation provides your Golden Visa candidacy.

Exceptional talents in sports, digital tech, art, or culture fields

  • An Individual who has received at least one prestigious international award for their achievements
  • Your income and employment status do not matter
  • The individual must have a recommendation letter from a local or federal government agency in their related field.
  • The individual must be innovative and inventive in their career
  • The individual must have one or more patents


  • You must register a startup company in the UAE as a small and medium enterprise
  • Your startup should have a minimum of AED1,000,000 in annual revenue
  • You can also generate a startup idea and have it approved by an official business incubator in the UAE or local authorities such as the Ministry of Economy
  • You can also be the founder of a project sold for a minimum of AED7,000,000

Highly-skilled workers

  • Workers from all disciplines can apply for the Golden Visa
  • Fields like administration, business, culture, engineering, IT, law, and medicine are singled out
  • You must have high educational qualifications and good experience in your field
  • You must have a valid employment contract in the Emirates
  • You must be classified in the first or second occupational level in line with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
  • Your monthly salary should be a minimum of AED30,000

Outstanding students and graduates

  • Includes students in secondary schools in the Emirates, graduates from Emirati universities, and graduates from the world’s top 100 higher educational institutions
  • Candidates should have high academic achievements (e.g. minimum GPA of 3.5 for bachelor students outside the UAE)
  • Graduation should not have occurred more than two years ago

Humanitarian pioneers

  • Candidates should possess recognition awards in humanitarian fields
  • You can be a prominent volunteer and sponsor of humanitarian efforts
  • You can hold outstanding membership in public benefits associations and regional or global organizations

Foreign investors

Investors can get a UAE Golden Visa by investing in real estate or business:

  • Real estate investors can apply for a ten-year Golden Visa if they invest a minimum of AED2,000,000 in real estate
  • The property may be off-plan or fully constructed
  • Obtaining a loan from an accredited UAE bank is allowed
  • Business investors can apply for a ten-year Golden Visa by investing a minimum of AED2,000,000 in a business
  • The business can be an existing company in the UAE or a new company that you, the investor, establish

Individuals who qualify after meeting all the guidelines and processes are eligible to apply for Emirati citizenship. However, you can only gain the UAE’s citizenship through the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, Offices of the Executive Councils and the Cabinet determined by the recommendations of federal entities.

Once approved, the primary applicant can also include their spouse and children in the United Arab Emirates citizenship application.

What are the benefits of UAE citizenship?

UAE-passport-benefits new rules free health care private sector permanent residency family member 20 years dual citizenship obtain uae citizenship born in the uae emirati nationality law grant citizenship reputable international body acquiring citizenshipUAE citizenship offers a multitude of benefits that make it highly sought after. UAE citizens often receive favorable treatment in the job market, potentially securing jobs with better salary packages compared to some expatriates. Notably, this advantage might be less pronounced for those with a well-established family history in the Emirates​​.

For those looking to stay in the UAE long-term without citizenship, there are options like the freelance visa, retirement visa, Golden Visa, and student visa. Each has its criteria, such as minimum income or investment levels, and offers various benefits like access to amenities, zero income tax, and the ability to live, work, and study in the UAE​​. Citizenship also allows for family unification and grants citizens the right to own property without the restrictions that foreigners may face. This includes the ability to open bank accounts and establish companies with ease, thanks to reduced bureaucracy​​.

  • The country has a stable economy
  • Popular cities in the UAE like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al-Khaimah, and Al Ain have various job opportunities and attract people from all over the world.
  • The country has a growing expat community
  • The UAE has world-class education and healthcare infrastructure
  • The country offers high salaries and has an excellent standard of living
  • You can own a commercial business or get a job in a public institution in the country. In addition, if you attain 20 years of work experience, you can opt to retire at the age of 49.
  • According to the Global Passport Index, the UAE ranks 24th based on various parameters like enhanced mobility, investment index, and quality of living.
  • The UAE ranks 6th in the Investment Index, which ranks a country based on ease of doing business and how investor-friendly it is.
  • The UAE passport is among the strongest passports in the world for investment opportunities
  • You can include your family members in your application for citizenship in the UAE

UAE passport holders can travel visa-free to 183 countries and territories, making it the 11th most powerful passport in the world. You are allowed visa-free travel to some of the most popular destinations, such as Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Spain Portugal and most of the Caribbean.

Check out our article: UAE Passport: Everything you Need to Know.

What is the application procedure for UAE citizenship?

There are no set rules regarding the application process to obtain citizenship in the UAE. However, there are specific eligibility criteria that an individual must meet to apply for UAE nationality.

Reviewing your application and pre-approval

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship appoints a central advisory committee and sub-committees to review each candidate independently. The sub-committees are responsible for reviewing all data submitted and filtering applicants who meet the eligibility conditions to qualify for citizenship.

Approval of your application

Once your citizenship application is verified and approved, it is passed on to the advisory committee consisting of one representative from each Emirate for the final statement.

Even if you meet all the eligibility criteria, you might be denied UAE citizenship on certain conditions. The final decision in these cases lies with the Executive Council, the Rulers, the Crown Princes’ Courts, and the Cabinet.

If you are denied citizenship in the UAE, you can plan to acquire the UAE Golden Visa. With the UAE Golden Visa, you can obtain a residence permit by investment in the country and work in the UAE. Under the Golden Visa program, you can also include your family members in your application.

How to get UAE citizenship by investment?

Under the Golden Visa, the UAE offers a long-term residence visa through an investment that allows foreign investors to live, work, and study in the UAE. You must own the invested capital completely (it cannot be a loan) and provide proof of medical insurance for yourself and your family (if applicable).

If you choose the real estate investment route and own a property or group of properties, you will be granted a Golden Visa that is valid for five years without the need for a sponsor. To qualify, you must:

  1. Provide a letter from the Department of Land and Real Estate Regulation of the prospective emirate stating that you own one or more properties, the value of which is not less than AED2,000,000
  2. Provide proof of housing in the country
  3. Purchase a property with a loan from specific local banks approved by the competent local authority 

If you are looking for a visa with a lower investment minimum, you can opt for the two-year Property Investor Residence Visa. This requires you to make a minimum investment of AED750,000 in a residential or serviced apartment. If you and your legally married spouse invest in joint ownership property, the minimum requirement is AED1,000,000 invested in property such as hotel rooms, villas, townhouses, offices, or warehouses.

If you prefer a more long-term visa, you can choose to make a property investment of AED2,000,000 to qualify for a ten-year Property Investor Residence Visa in the UAE.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get UAE Citizenship

How to get a UAE passport?

To acquire UAE or Dubai citizenship and a UAE passport, individuals have several pathways: 

  • Descent
  • Naturalization
  • Marriage
  • Exceptional merit

Notably, exceptional merit is open to investors who meet specific criteria.

Before applying for citizenship, investors must secure a two or ten-year residence permit (Golden Visa) by making a substantial investment of at least AED 2 million (about $545,000) in UAE property or an alternative qualifying investment.

How to get Dubai citizenship?

Since Dubai is one of the most popular places in the UAE, people may often use the term “Dubai citizenship” to refer to UAE citizenship. 

Foreigners can obtain Emirati citizenship if they are investors or talented individuals in their respective fields. However, It is important to emphasize that obtaining UAE citizenship is not a straightforward process and requires special approval from the UAE authorities.

Can Pakistani citizens get a UAE Golden Visa?

Yes, Pakistani citizens can obtain a UAE Golden Visa through investment in real estate. For more details, please read our article: UAE Golden Visa for Pakistani Citizens.

Can you buy citizenship in the UAE?

No, directly buying citizenship in the UAE is not possible. However, you can choose to invest in the UAE by purchasing property, which is a route to citizenship under the UAE’s citizenship-by-investment program.

Can you get Dubai citizenship by investment?

Yes, you can get Dubai citizenship by investment through the UAE citizenship-by-investment program. Dubai is one of the most popular investment destinations. As Dubai is part of the UAE, making an investment here is a route to citizenship in the UAE.

How much does it cost to get citizenship in the UAE?

The cost of obtaining citizenship in the UAE will depend on the type of real estate investment you choose to make. A two-year Property Investor Residence Visa will require a minimum investment of AED750,000 (about $204,000) in residential or serviced apartments, or an investment of AED1,000,000 (about $272,000) in hotel rooms, villas, townhouses, offices, or warehouses. A ten-year UAE Golden Visa requires a minimum investment of AED2,000,000 (about $545,000).

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