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Can I buy UAE citizenship?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) does not offer citizenship for purchase outright. However, foreign nationals can acquire UAE citizenship by meeting certain residency requirements or through a special decision from the UAE’s rulers.

Can I buy UAE citizenship?

UAE Long Term Residence Visas

The UAE has made changes over the past few years to make it easier for certain foreign nationals to gain residency rights:

Golden Visa

  • Introduced in 2019, the 10-year Golden Visa is available to investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents like doctors and engineers, scientists and researchers, and outstanding students.
  • Golden Visa holders can sponsor family members for 10-year residency visas.
  • With enough time meeting eligibility criteria, Golden Visa holders may meet UAE’s naturalization requirements.

Green Visa

  • Launched in 2022, the 5-year Green Visa offers more flexibility than other UAE residence visas.
  • Green Visa holders can sponsor family members, own businesses and property, and work without company sponsorship.
  • Green Visas boost prospects for acquiring citizenship over time.

Freelancer/Self-Sponsored Work Visa

  • Allows working in the UAE without employer sponsorship for 1-3 years based on education level and experience.
  • Can be renewed subject to meeting strict criteria.

By continually renewing long term residence visas, foreign nationals demonstrate commitment to the UAE and contribute to its development. While not guaranteed, this path increases the prospect of naturalization.

Naturalization and Discretionary Citizenship

UAE citizenship law is governed by Federal Law No. 17 of 1972. It sets strict qualifications for naturalization. Foreigners may be eligible if they:

  • Have legally resided in the UAE for 30 consecutive years
  • Speak fluent Arabic
  • Have lawful source of income
  • Maintain good reputation and no convictions for crimes of honor or honesty

Even meeting these does not guarantee citizenship. Application approval rates are low.

Separately, UAE rulers hold authority to grant citizenship by special decree as an “honor”:

  • In 2022, the President granted citizenship to several investors, medical doctors, engineers, scientists and artists.
  • Reasons given were outstanding talents or services advancing the UAE’s development.
  • Shows pathways to naturalization beyond the 30-year residency rule.

The President also granted citizenship to the children of UAE national women married to foreigners. This supports the government’s vision of gender equality and female empowerment.

While the UAE does not sell citizenship outright, its recent changes do reward long term residence and connections to the country. Exceptional talents may also receive citizenship through special decree. Ultimately the decision rests with the UAE’s rulers.

Buying Property in the UAE

Foreign nationals, including Americans, Europeans, Indians, and Chinese, can buy freehold property in the UAE relatively easily:

  • Nearly 30 freehold areas exist where foreigners can buy property outright rather than on short term lease. These include Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah.
  • UAE real estate typically grants renewable 3-year residence visas tied to property ownership.
  • Nonetheless, buying property alone will not lead to citizenship without meeting long term residency requirements.

In short, purchasing property can provide a legal pathway to secure renewable UAE residence rights, not immediate citizenship.

Key Takeaways

  • UAE citizenship is not directly for sale but may be acquired over long periods of legal residency.
  • Golden Visas and Green Visas reward investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents and family members with 5-10 year residency rights.
  • Naturalization typically requires 30 years residency plus Arabic language and good character.
  • UAE rulers hold authority to grant faster citizenship by special decree to exceptional talents or achievements benefiting the UAE.
  • Foreign nationals can freely buy UAE property to gain residence rights for 3 years at a time.
  • Property ownership alone does not grant a path to citizenship.

In the UAE, citizenship criteria rewarding long term residence aims for meaningful commitment versus wealth alone. Still, changes to visa rules and special decrees do create limited pathways based on merit.


The UAE does not outright sell its citizenship like some countries offering “golden passports”. Yet qualifying for naturalization is also difficult, requiring three continuous decades of verified residency.

In reality, most foreign nationals in the UAE simply renew long term visas like the 5-10 year Golden and Green visas. By attracting global skills and investment, the UAE still achieves similar economic aims as citizenship by investment programs.

Meanwhile, the UAE rulers’ special decrees do reward exceptional contributions with faster citizenship based on merit rather than merely wealth or residency duration.

Overall, foreigners wishing to become UAE citizens must commit many years contributing to its growth or achieve truly outstanding distinction for the possibility of naturalization. Still, the UAE’s evolving visa regimes do offer flexible long term residence options surpassing what is possible in many other countries.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I just pay money to buy UAE citizenship?
    No, the UAE does not sell citizenship outright to foreigners. Long-term residence is required before qualifying for naturalization.

  2. What are benefits of 10-year Golden Visa?
    The Golden Visa offers a renewable 10-year residency with ability to sponsor family members and flexibility to work without employer sponsorship. It increases prospects for citizenship over time.

  3. How much investment is required for Golden Visa?
    Requirements vary by Emirate and activity but around AED 10 million (USD $2.7 million) is typical for an entrepreneur/investor Golden Visa in Dubai. Lower amounts may qualify in some cases.

  4. Can I buy a house in Dubai and get citizenship?
    No, buying property in Dubai or elsewhere only grants a 3-year renewable residence visa tied to owning the property, not immediate citizenship eligibility.

  5. How long must I live in UAE before applying for citizenship?
    UAE citizenship law generally requires 30 years of consecutive, legal residency as well as Arabic language skills and good character. In practice, citizenship approvals are rare even meeting this duration.

  6. Can I buy citizenship from the UAE government?
    There is no direct citizenship by investment program. Residency eventually leading to citizenship may be sponsored by making major investments and contributions but not by payment alone.

  7. What are benefits of 5-year Green Visa?
    The Green Visa offers 5-year renewable residency with flexibility to own businesses, property, sponsor family members, and work without company sponsorship across entire UAE.

  8. What categories qualify for UAE Golden Visa?
    Investors, entrepreneurs, certain professionals like doctors/engineers, scientists, researchers, outstanding students and graduates generally qualify for the 10-year Golden Visa program.

  9. Can I get UAE citizenship through parents or marriage?
    UAE does not grant citizenship by descent solely from a citizen parent or by marriage without first having long-term lawful residency status within the country.

  10. How are some foreigners getting UAE citizenship faster?
    UAE rulers have authority to grant faster citizenship by special decree to distinguished talents and foreigners who provide outstanding services benefitting the nation.

  11. Can I qualify for UAE citizenship after 10 years residency?
    No, while meeting the defined legal residency period is essential, typically 30 consecutive years, it does not guarantee naturalization which remains discretionary based on additional criteria.

  12. What are the benefits of becoming a UAE citizen?
    Benefits include ability to vote, access retirement benefits, sponsor more family members for residency, establish businesses, own land outright rather than lease, qualify for government jobs, travel freely, and receive consular support overseas.

  13. Can I keep my existing citizenship if I obtain UAE citizenship?
    Yes, dual citizenship is recognized in the UAE so new citizens may retain their original nationality if those laws also permit.

  14. How much does it cost to apply for UAE citizenship by naturalization?
    Application fees start from AED 5,000 (USD $1,360) for processing and may require other legal and translation costs. As approvals are rare, applicants should ensure clearly meeting eligibility criteria before applying.

  15. What happens if my UAE citizenship application gets rejected?
    Rejected applicants may submit appeals to the government for re-evaluation but typically need to provide additional evidence of meeting eligibility criteria for naturalization. Legal residency renewal issues should not result solely due to a prior citizenship application denial.

  16. Can I buy property in Dubai after getting UAE citizenship?
    Yes, becoming a citizen allows buying property in Dubai or elsewhere without restrictions on location unlike for foreigners holding residency visas. This includes title deeds held outright rather than renewable leaseholds.

  17. Does UAE citizenship improve prospects for public sector jobs?
    Yes, UAE government jobs typically prefer or exclusively hire citizens especially in defense, security, justice and administrative roles. Naturalization may open additional job categories previously restricted to nationals.

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