Further to the issuance of Federal Decree Law No. 3 of 2020, which amended Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 (the Citizenship Law), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently approved the amendments to its nationality laws with the aim of attracting foreign investors and talents who would contribute to and help progress the country’s economic objectives.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has announced the changes to the Citizenship Law, allowing the grant of UAE citizenship to non-Emirati “investors, specialized talents and professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families.”

Individuals eligible for citizenship will be nominated by the UAE Cabinet, the local Emirati courts (or Ruler’s Courts) and the executive councils of each of the seven Emirates. It is not clear whether there is route to apply for citizenship under the new process.

Among the changes, the major development is that non-Emiratis can obtain UAE citizenship and retain their original nationality, for the first time allowing them to become dual citizens. The criteria for eligibility for each category and the nomination process will be set out upon publication of the Executive Regulations in the Official Gazette.

This is a welcome development for foreign investors, businesses and professionals and reinforces the UAE’s position as an international investment and talent hub. We will issue follow-up alerts once the Executive Regulations are published and as and when new updates arise.

To speak to us in relation to the Citizenship Law and related immigration issues, please contact one of the team members below.


Dr. Habib Al Mulla is the Executive Chairman of Habib Al Mulla & Partners, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International and the Head of the Dispute Resolution practice in the UAE. He is one of the UAE’s most highly respected legal authorities with over 34 years’ experience in UAE law and has drafted many of the modern legislative structures in place in Dubai today. Dr. Habib focuses his practice on litigation and arbitration. He is Chairman of the CIArb (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators) UAE Committee and most recently served as Chairman of the board of trustees for the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC).


Amir Alkhaja is a partner and heads the UAE Banking Litigation team of Habib Al Mulla & Partners, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International. Amir focuses on commercial, white-collar crime and banking litigation, with over 15 years of experience in the UAE. He is a licensed UAE lawyer and has right of audience in local and federal courts of the UAE including all Cassation and the Supreme Court.


Hafez Arafa is a senior associate focusing on litigation, having practiced in the UAE for over 28 years. His experience includes civil and commercial litigation, and disputes relating to trademarks, commercial agencies, companies, banking, family law and labor law. Hafez heads the Court Management System team at Habib Al Mulla & Partners, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International.


Hamad Al Sayegh is an associate in the Dispute Resolution practice group of Habib Al Mulla & Partners, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, based in Dubai. As a licensed UAE lawyer, Hamad has full rights of audience before local and Federal courts of the UAE and represents individuals and multinational corporations on civil and commercial disputes across a variety of industry sectors, including real estate, construction, corporate, banking, insurance and intellectual property, as well as in criminal litigation proceedings.

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