UAE Citizenship Move Is A ‘Win-Win’ Situation For All, Say Expatriates

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  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    Expats working in certain sectors that have been opened for eligibility for UAE citizenship hailed the decision of the government on Saturday, saying the move will make residents even more committed to the UAE, attract fresh talent and investment to the country, while providing a permanent home for foreigners.

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    In a historic move, the UAE on Saturday announced major changes to the citizenship law, to allow for the naturalisation of foreign investors, doctors, scientists, artists and talented people and their families.

    The announcement came from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who tweeted: “We adopted law amendments that allow granting the UAE citizenship to investors, specialised talents & professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families. The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey.”

    The amendments, taken upon the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were approved by Shaikh Mohammad, on Saturday.

    The decision specified the categories of the people who can be granted the citizenship, under certain conditions. In addition to granting the citizenship to the families — the spouse and children of this specialised and skilled segment — the law allows for them to also keep their current citizenship, which is a major change to the previous rule that doesn’t allow for dual citizenship.

    Gulf News spoke to cross section of residents to know their views about the historic move in the UAE.

    Inviting talent

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    Professor Ammar Kaka

    Professor Ammar Kaka, Provost and Vice Principal for Heriot-Watt University Dubai said: “This is a historical move which will go a long way in retaining the best and the brightest brains, and boost the overall development of the UAE. Under the National Agenda, the goal of the UAE is to transition to a knowledge-based economy, and the wise leadership of this country has always worked tirelessly to develop talent, promote innovation and research and instill an entrepreneurial mindset. Universities especially will have a key role to play in nurturing and developing talent, and we look forward to supporting the vision of government to the best of our capabilities. We are sure that these changes to the UAE citizenship law will attract quality talent and thereby boost the pace of economic growth.”

    A bold move

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    Sachin Chauhan

    Sachin Chauhan, a civil engineer from India who is working as a senior data analyst in Dubai, described Saturday’s announcement as “a bold move” that will encourage new citizens to invest in the UAE and treat it as their new home.
    Chauhan, 43, who has been working in Dubai for almost 20 years, added: “Now, even more than before, it will invite global talent from the engineering field and others to come to the UAE and stay here for good.

    Cultural boost

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    Nathaniel Alapide

    Nathaniel Alapide, a 43-year-old Filipino sand and visual artist, who has been living in Dubai for 18 years, said: “As an artist who has been living in the UAE for almost two decades, this granting of citizenship to select individuals is great news indeed! I create artworks on the beaches and deserts of this beautiful country and to be given the chance of being a citizen means that I can continue doing what I do and watch my works progress or evolve overtime. This move will definitely boost the arts and rich culture of the UAE.”

    Wise step

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    Dr Ehab El-Saadany

    Dr Ehab El-Saadany, 56, Egyptian Canadian national who is Professor and Director, Advanced Power and Energy Center at Khalifa University, said: “This is a great initiative from great leaders. This is a very wise step of the UAE leaders that reflect their clear wisdom. In case my name was put forward, I’ll definitely be honoured by carrying the UAE nationality. Getting bright minds in the UAE and having them here with the feel of belonging will make a big difference because now it is not going to be simply a job but will become a mission.”

    Dynamic leadership

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    Dr Christopher Abraham

    Dr Christopher Abraham, CEO & Head - Dubai Campus, S P Jain School of Global Management, said: "UAE has always been a path breaking nation with its numerous innovations in governance. It also has an extremely laudable culture of tolerance , inclusion, and acceptance. Now with this exciting announcement we are witnessing the long-term vision and dynamic leadership of this nation. This landmark announcement will pave the way for many scientists, scholars and skilled professionals across the world to embrace UAE as their home and contribute to the development of the country and the region."

    Turning point for scientists

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    Dr Vajahat Hussain

    Dr Vajahat Hussain, CEO of Amity Education ME (which operates Amity University Dubai), said: “This is a turning point for the region’s academics and scientists. The UAE continues to prove to us why it is the best place to live. Citizenship opportunities for specialists, inventors, scientists, academics and other talented individuals will ensure that innovation remains at the forefront of UAE’s growth and prosperity. During these unprecedented times, we are fortunate to be part of a country that cares for its people and creates new opportunities for us every day. This step will reenergize the expat community, who consider the UAE home.”

    Opening up to global artists

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    Jogiraj Sikidar

    Jogiraj Sikidar, an Indian expatriate regarded as a doyen of Indian classical music and founder of the Malhar Centre for Performing Arts, Dubai, said: “This is such an amazing news and we expat artistes would like to convey our gratitude to the leaders to the UAE. Earlier when the long-term visa for artistes was a great move and now the citizenship offer has opened up the country to the artistes of the world. It will attract the best talents from across the world and not only contribute to the vibrant culture of this place which is a melting pot but also boost the economy.”

    Sikidar added: “When it comes to art and culture, the UAE offers state of the art infrastructure from sophisticated acoustics in auditoriums to best art galleries and museums. Many of the artistes already residing here think of the UAE as their home already. Now they are ready to take on the world with an explosion of art and culture from here. The new citizenship status will prove to be a win-win situation for all.”

    Preserving culture through painting

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    Akbar Saheb


    Akbar Saheb, a Dubai-based artist, said: "For the last 25-year, I devoted my time and passion of painting bringing to life the history, culture and great achievements of UAE through my paintings and exhibitions.

    This is truly a blessing moment for me, as I always consider UAE my home. I am extremely happy by this news, this is an opportunity which will allow people from different cultures to come together to UAE and understand this country and culture. This citizenship opportunity will allow the country to grow more and flourish.

    Wisdom of UAE’s leadership

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    Dr Karim Chelli

    Dr Karim Chelli, President, Canadian University Dubai, said the decision, “first and foremost, speaks for the vision and the wisdom of the leadership of this country”. He added that the announcement will not only attract, but “most importantly, retain the brightest people in the world”, in the UAE. Dr Chelli welcomed the opening for citizenship of sectors related to certain scientists, doctors, and engineers, among others.

    Dr Chelli, who is from Canada, said: “What better way of building the country than through its intelligentsia and in perspective of what we call ‘Factor T, or Factor Time’. And now they are making it even more prominent and durable for the global elite, those who can contribute to the knowledge, economy and the wellbeing of the UAE, to come here and enjoy this life, and contribute to the country, and to the region and to the world. I can only express my thanks and gratitude to such an initiative.”

    Set for growth

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    Dr David A Schmidt

    Dr David A Schmidt, President, American University in Dubai, said: We are always in full admiration of the UAE’s commitment to rewarding education, knowledge and talent. The announcement by [Shaikh Mohammad] is a testament to the vision and the growth that the UAE is set to witness in the coming years.”


    Dr Schmidt, an American expat, added: Recognising people’s individual contributions to the country, and offering them citizenship conveys the respect and humility of the UAE’s leaders towards expats’ contributions across all industries. This great news comes as a follow up to [Shaikh Mohammad’s] announcement on extending residencies to university student’s families to live in the UAE. More than ever, the UAE’s leadership proves to be exemplary in investing in its human capital and opening its doors to hard working individuals eager to contribute to the country’s success story.”

    Great Step forward

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    Dr Azad Moopen

    Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare said: “This is another great step forward towards attracting and retaining top talent in a variety of fields. This takes the golden visa one step further, allowing people to have much more certainty for the future of themselves and their families. We anticipate that people will treat the UAE as their forever home, rather than knowing one day they will be leaving for a different country.”

    Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare, said: "The decision of the UAE government to bestow citizenship to investors and specialized professionals is historic. The UAE is a land of great opportunities and potential. The landmark decision made by the government would attract talented professionals to the UAE.

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    Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil

    "The latest announcement would pave the way in scripting another success story in the history of the country. The UAE is one of the ideal destinations in the world for investments. The ease-of-doing-business and the support of the leadership have helped many, like me, in realizing their dreams. The government's decision to grant citizenship to highly qualified and talented professionals would see an influx of the world's brightest minds to the UAE. The decision has come at the right time. This is a great opportunity and honor for residents like us, and we are always thankful and indebted to the leadership of this great nation for allowing us to explore the potentials and opportunities here.

    Quality of life

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    Dr Syed Ateeque Naqvi

    Dr Syed Ateeque Naqvi, consultant general surgeon based in Dubai, said he hopes to apply for Emirati citizenship. “I believe I qualify for all the criteria, and while I hold British and Pakistani citizenship, I plan to apply for UAE citizenship as well. This is great news for professionals, and it will bring the UAE - the first Middle Eastern nation to announce such an initiative – on par with Western nations. Most people have long wanted to make the UAE their home, and the decision will help attract talent,” Dr Naqvi said.

    Historic decision

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    Dr Rithu Khare

    Dr Rithu Khare, specialist general surgeon at Medeor Hospital, Dubai, applauded the decision as “historic”. “The UAE government has made a historic decision. It is a great honour and recognition for practising doctors in the UAE. Bestowing qualified doctors with Emirati citizenship would contribute to setting up a highly efficient health care ecosystem in the country. It would also attract younger talents to come to the UAE and excel in their area of specialisation. The announcement of the decision amid a pandemic, when health care professionals are tirelessly working to combat the deadly virus, has come as a morale booster for doctors. Personally, being a medical doctor in the UAE for 17 years, UAE has offered me great opportunities to explore and grow in my career,” Dr Kathre said.

    A great deal

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    Dr Foroozan Khezri

    Dr Foroozan Khezri, adult and paediatric urology specialist at Medcare Hospital, Al Safa has been in the UAE for more than 14 years. “I was born in Iran, Larestan and I am Muslim. My husband is a dentist who also came to the UAE in 2006 and he is also with the Medcare Group. This announcement means a great deal for my family and me. This gives us peace of mind that we can stay in the UAE for as long as we wish, and call it our forever home. This again shows the forward thinking of success and growth in the nation,” Dr Khezri said. She has two children, both of whom are also pursuing medical degrees in Hungary.

    Dr. Nazyak Raoof, medical director at Burjeel Hospital For Advanced Surgery, has been in the UAE for 22 years. “The announcement of the UAE government in granting citizenship to highly qualified doctors and professionals is welcoming. Being a resident of this great country for 21 years, I can’t be prouder. This is a great honour and recognition for doctors who are practising in the UAE. We share a special bond with this great nation. This is where we made our lives together with our family. Now, even my children have made their lives here and settled in Dubai. The UAE is a land of great opportunities and potential and I have never felt like a foreigner in this land. The nation and its people have always treated us with respect. We are happy to be part of this nation. I am grateful to the UAE government for making a landmark decision to award medical doctors with the prestigious Emirati citizenship,” Dr Raoof said.

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    Dr. Nazyak Raoof

    Dr. Nazyak Raoof, medical director at Burjeel Hospital For Advanced Surgery, has been in the UAE for 22 years. “The announcement of the UAE government in granting citizenship to highly qualified doctors and professionals is welcoming. Being a resident of this great country for 21 years, I can’t be prouder. This is a great honour and recognition for doctors who are practising in the UAE. We share a special bond with this great nation. This is where we made our lives together with our family. Now, even my children have made their lives here and settled in Dubai. The UAE is a land of great opportunities and potential and I have never felt like a foreigner in this land. The nation and its people have always treated us with respect. We are happy to be part of this nation. I am grateful to the UAE government for making a landmark decision to award medical doctors with the prestigious Emirati citizenship,” Dr Raoof said.

    Cheer among people

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    Dr Raza Siddiqui

    Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director at RAK Hospital, hailed the initiative to allow dual citizenship for eligible people. “The announcement of the new law on citizenship is an excellent news and brings a lot of optimism and cheer among people. This is sure to put UAE on par with many developed nations who have been able to attract talent and grow their economies by offering citizenship. UAE is a great place to live, work and raise family as it’s also among the safest places on earth. Moreover, the country offers the best of lifestyle choices, education, health care and security, making it a preferred destination. Many long term residents, investors, artists and others can now look forward to calling the country their permanent home and can continue to contribute to its progress, growth and success. Additionally, giving people the option of keeping the dual citizenship is also a great step, overall an outstanding move by the rulers of the nation towards providing social stability and a brighter future,” Dr Siddiqui said.

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