The United Arab Emirates announced that foreigners will now be able to obtain Emirati nationality, an important first for the Gulf region.

The move is a significant change of direction for a country whose economy relies heavily on expatriates, for whom residency generally depends on their employment visas.

The United Arab Emirates passport, which is ranked one of the best in the world for mobility, will be offered to foreigners and selected professionals, including “investors, doctors, specialists, inventors, scientists, talents, intellectuals, artists, and their families”, According to the announcement.

“The United Arab Emirates has passed amendments … that allows investors, professionals, special talents and their families to acquire Emirati nationality and passport under certain conditions,” the UAE government news agency WAM said in a statement on Saturday.

“The step aims to appreciate the talents and skills present in the UAE and attract brighter minds to the Emirati community in a way that contributes to the development and prosperity of the country.”

However, foreigners cannot apply for citizenship; they must be nominated by UAE royals or officials, and the country’s cabinet would have the final say.

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