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How to get Dubai citizenship?

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is known for its luxurious lifestyle, modern infrastructure, and business friendly environment. Many expatriates dream of settling down in Dubai permanently. However, getting citizenship in Dubai is not straightforward.

How to get Dubai citizenship?

Eligibility for Dubai citizenship

Dubai follows strict eligibility rules for granting citizenship. Some key criteria are:

  • Legally residing in Dubai: You must hold a valid UAE residence visa and show proof of having legally resided in Dubai for over 20 years.
  • Fluency in Arabic: You must be fluent in reading, writing and speaking Arabic to qualify for naturalization.
  • No criminal history: Your record must be clear of any criminal charges in the UAE or elsewhere.
  • Income/assets: You must have considerable assets, high income, or stable livelihood in Dubai. There is no officially stated financial requirement.
  • Contribution to society: If you have made exceptional contributions in areas like arts/culture, sports, science etc. it improves your chances for citizenship.

The citizenship application process

If you meet the eligibility criteria, follow this step-by-step process to apply for Dubai citizenship:

1. Submit the application

  • Download the application form from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) website.
  • Fill in details like current citizenship, job, salary, address, contacts, and reason for application.
  • Submit the form along with all supporting documents to the Citizenship Applications Section at GDRFA.

2. Undertake interviews

  • You will be called for an initial screening interview with GDRFA officials.
  • The officials determine if you meet prerequisites and request verification of documents.
  • Multiple interviews related to job, income, background, criminal record etc. will follow.

3. Get recommendation letter

  • After satisfactory interviews, the GDRFA issues a recommendation letter to the higher Committee for Citizenship Affairs.

4. Attend committee hearing 

  • You must personally attend a hearing by the citizenship committee chaired by a senior interior ministry official.
  • The committee examines your qualifications and contributions in detail and makes the final decision.

5. Collect naturalization certificate

  • If approved, the committee instructs GDRFA to issue a naturalization certificate.
  • This certificate declares you a legal citizen of Dubai.

The process usually takes 6-18 months from application to certificate collection. The stringent criteria mean only a handful of expatriates get Dubai citizenship annually. Committed, long-term residents who actively contribute to Dubai’s growth and sustainability have the highest approval odds.

Privileges of Dubai citizenship

Once naturalized, you can enjoy several privileges as a Dubai citizen:

  • Visa-free entry: Travel visa-free across GCC countries and entry permit waiver for Saudi Arabia.
  • Sponsor visas: Sponsor visas for immediate relatives to live and work in UAE.
  • Own property: Buy and register freehold property under your name in permitted areas.
  • Access loans: Avail citizen exclusive loans, housing schemes and business subsidies.
  • Voting rights: Vote in local and federal elections conducted in UAE.

In addition, you can pass the Dubai citizenship to future generations as well thus securing their future in the UAE. But some key restrictions apply even after naturalization:

  • Cannot hold high level federal government jobs reserved for native Emiratis.
  • Male citizens must still complete the national military service if under 30 years old.

So in summary, acquiring Dubai citizenship requires very long term, legal residency, fluency in Arabic, a clean record, sufficient income, active community service and significant contributions to the Emirate. The vetting process is highly intensive and approval rates are low. But those granted citizenship enjoy visa-free travel, voting rights, ownership privileges and sponsorship benefits in the UAE.

Key takeaways

  • Gaining citizenship in Dubai has very stringent eligibility rules related to long-term stay, Arabic language skills, income, background, and societal contributions.
  • The application process involves submission of forms and documents, interviews by committees, and thorough background checks before final approval.
  • Approved citizenship leads to visa-free entry in GCC, property ownership rights, access to loans and subsidies, family visa sponsorship and voting rights in UAE.

In conclusion, acquiring Dubai citizenship as an expatriate is challenging but offers several lifelong benefits if you meet the eligibility criteria. Maintaining flawless legal residency, learning Arabic, earning well and giving back meaningfully to local community increase your odds of naturalization. The detailed verification and evaluations aim to only naturalize worthy candidates who add long term value to the Emirate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How long do I legally need to live in Dubai to qualify for citizenship?
A1: You must complete 20+ years of legal residence in Dubai to qualify for applying for citizenship.

Q2: Which languages must I know fluently for citizenship approval?
A2: Fluency in reading, writing and speaking Arabic is mandatory to qualify. Knowledge of English is also beneficial.

Q3: Can I apply for Dubai citizenship if I have another citizenship?
A3: Yes, you can apply if you hold citizenship of another country. Dual citizenship is allowed for naturalized citizens.

Q4. What kind of income do I need to be eligible?
A4: There is no fixed income requirement but you must have considerable assets, high salary, stable livelihood and good standard of living.

Q5: How much does it cost to apply for Dubai citizenship?
A5: There are no official citizenship application fees but the verification process costs around AED 3000-5000 overall.

Q6: Can I marry a UAE national to acquire citizenship faster?
A6: No, marrying an Emirati does not fast track you for citizenship. The 20 year residency rule still applies.

Q7: Can I sponsor relatives on residence visas if I get Dubai citizenship?
A7: Yes, as a naturalized citizen you can sponsor residence visas for immediate family members like parents, spouse and children.

Q8: Will my children automatically get citizenship if I acquire it?
A8: No, citizenship is not automatically passed to next generation. But it gives them easy path to residency and future citizenship.

Q9: Can I buy property freely in Dubai if I become a citizen?
A9: Yes, Dubai citizens can buy and register freehold properties under their name in approved areas.

Q10: Can I participate in elections if I become a Dubai citizen?
A10: Yes, naturalized citizenship gives you voting rights to participate in all local and federal level elections held in UAE.

Q11: What privileges are restricted for naturalized citizens?
A11: Some federal authority and police jobs are reserved only for native Emiratis.

Q12: Do I need to give up current citizenship when I acquire Dubai citizenship?
A12: No, the UAE currently allows dual citizenship so you are not required to renounce your existing citizenship.

Q13: Which languages must I know fluently for citizenship approval?
A13: Fluency in reading, writing and speaking Arabic is mandatory to qualify. Knowledge of English is also beneficial.

Q14: How can I maximize my chances of getting Dubai citizenship?
A14: Contributing significantly in areas like arts, culture, sports, science, community service etc. improves approval chances substantially.

Q15: Is the citizenship by investment route available in Dubai?
A15: No, Dubai does not offer citizenship routes in exchange for real estate investment, business setup or donations.

Q16: Can temporary residents and tourists apply for Dubai citizenship?
A16: No, Only long term residents on valid employment/family visas can qualify to apply after 20+ years stay.

Q17: Does becoming a Muslim improve my citizenship application?
A17: Conversion to Islam does not have any impact on expediting or enhancing citizenship application.

Q18: Does committing a minor crime affect my citizenship chances?
A18: Yes, even a minor offence can negatively impact the application. Your record must be absolutely clean.

Q19: How long does the citizenship application verification process take?
A19: The overall process from application to certificate collection may take around 6-18 months depending on verification complexity.

Q20: Can stateless residents and refugees apply for Dubai citizenship?
A20: Stateless individuals and UNHCR recognized refugees can also apply after completing required residency term under eligible categories.

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