Foreign residents make up more than 80% of the UAE's population and have for decades been a mainstay of its economy.
The United Arab Emirates plans to offer citizenship to a select group of people, the first Gulf nation to do so in a major policy shift designed to give expatriates a bigger stake in the economy and foster growth, Bloomberg reports.
"We adopted law amendments that allow granting the UAE citizenship to investors, specialised talents and professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors and their families. The new directives aim to attract talents that contribute to our development journey," Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a tweet.
"The UAE cabinet, local Emiri courts and executive councils will nominate those eligible for citizenship under clear criteria set for each category. The law allows receivers of the UAE passport to keep their existing citizenship."
Foreign residents make up more than 80% of the UAE's population and have for decades been a mainstay of its economy. The UAE comprises seven sheikhdoms, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Oil-rich Gulf states, which for decades jealously guarded privileges for the small number of citizens, have been forced to consider longer residency and limited citizenship for foreigners as they seek to attract investment and diversify from oil.
Last year, the UAE abolished the need for companies to have Emirati shareholders, in a major shake-up of foreign ownership laws to attract investment into an economy reeling from the coronavirus and a decline in oil prices.