Does a child born in uae get citizenship

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In the complexities of nationality laws across the globe, the usage of the principle of jus soli – the right of anyone born in a country’s territory to nationality or citizenship, varies widely. One might wonder how to get citizenship in Dubai or other emirates, but the laws are consistent across the United Arab Emirates. Like many of its Middle Eastern counterparts, UAE primarily adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, where citizenship is not automatically granted by birth within the country, but is instead conferred by descent. This article delves into the intricacies of UAE citizenship, specifically focusing on the scenario of a child born in the UAE and their potential for obtaining citizenship.

Historical Context: Understanding Citizenship Laws in UAE

Before we delve into the current statutes, it’s beneficial to understand the historical evolution of citizenship laws in UAE. Defining this context helps comprehend the intricacies of the legal landscape and its influence on the present conditions.

Pre-1971 Era Citizenship Policies

In the early 20th century, before the formation of the UAE, the emirates that now comprise the federation were British protectorates. With no formal citizenship laws, nationality was often a matter of tribal association and personal affiliation. Given this, the principle of jus soli was practically in effect, with most children born in the region considered a part of their respective nomadic communities.

Post-1971 Era Citizenship Policies

With the formation of the UAE in 1971, structures were put in place to manage citizenship and nationality. The new approach heavily emphasized jus sanguinis over jus soli, considering factors such as the nationality of the parents, particularly the father, at the time of the child’s birth. This was key to understanding how to get nationality of UAE.

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Detailing Current Citizenship Laws

Under existing law, UAE citizenship or Emirati nationality can typically be conveyed by heritage, although there are exceptions and specific conditions. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as UAE citizenship by investment, making acquiring citizenship through this common pathway impossible.

Birth-right Citizenship in UAE

For a child born in the UAE to be automatically entitled to citizenship, they must be born to a father who is a UAE national. Benefits of being born in Dubai or anywhere in UAE for that matter, extend beyond the mere geography. The rich cultural tapestry, developed infrastructure, and high standards of living are just the tip of the iceberg.

If the father is unknown or stateless, the mother must be a UAE citizen for the child to acquire citizenship.

ScenarioBirth-right Citizenship
Father is a UAE NationalChild is granted UAE citizenship
Father is unknown or statelessChild is granted UAE citizenship if mother is a UAE national

Marriage as a Way to Citizenship

Marriage to a UAE national does not automatically confer nationality. However, foreign women married to UAE nationals can apply for citizenship after a certain period. Foreign men are ineligible to acquire nationality through marriage.

Length of Residence and UAE Citizenship

Finally, individuals who have resided in the UAE for a sufficiently long period may apply for citizenship, subject to stringent conditions that include proficiency in Arabic and no criminal record. This Emirati nationality law provision is not automatically linked to a child born in the UAE, but rather to the residential history of the parents.

Foregoing details disclose a fundamental fact: Being born within the borders of the United Arab Emirates does not automatically entitle a child to UAE citizenship. The law leans heavily on the principle of jus sanguinis, or right of blood. The next segments will delve into further detail about this interesting aspect of UAE nationality law.

Understanding the Role of Sponsorship in Citizenship

Delving deeper into the intricacies of obtaining citizenship in UAE, it is pertinent to discuss the role of sponsorship. Typically, residents in UAE, who aren’t nationals, are under the sponsorship of their employer, a resident family member, or a national. This sponsorship allows an individual to reside, work, or study in the UAE but doesn’t directly lead to citizenship. The policy of sponsorship further reinforces that citizenship is not a guarantee for those born or residing in the UAE and it is uniquely different from concepts associated with immigration seen in several western nations.

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Exceptions to the Rule: Special Cases and Considerations

Unsurprisingly, exceptions exist where the strictness of jus sanguinis is somewhat relaxed, but these are rare instances.

  1. A child born to unknown parents within UAE is found. This child is considered born in UAE unless proven otherwise and is given UAE citizenship.
  2. A child born in UAE to at least one parent who was also born in UAE.

Pros and Cons of UAE Citizenship Law

As with any legal framework, there are arguments both in support and against the current citizenship laws of the UAE.

Advantages of Obtaining Citizenship in UAE

Citizenship in the United Arab Emirates comes with a plethora of benefits. From access to public services including education and healthcare to social security services and voting rights, UAE citizenship promises a high standard of living. Another appealing benefit is the ease of travel with a UAE passport which is considered as one of the most powerful in the world, granting visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to numerous countries.

Disadvantages and Criticisms of the Current Ownership Law

Despite the many benefits, critics argue that UAE’s strict citizenship laws operate to the detriment of the individuals born and raised in the UAE but lack Emirati lineage. This majority expatriate population often lacks the legal rights and social benefits tied to citizenship. Over the years, discussions regarding the potential amendment to citizenship laws have emerged but the UAE continues to maintain its stringent approach.

Changes and Future Predictions: Possibility of Alterations in UAE Citizenship Law

The UAE citizenship law has remained largely consistent over the years, but pressures of globalization and international discourse may precipitate changes. While the likelihood is uncertain, it wouldn’t be the first time the UAE has made substantial changes to its immigration policies. Recent years have already seen the introduction of a long-term visa system for certain professions and investors, indicating an openness to adapt to global trends.

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Conclusion: Summarizing the Understanding of UAE Citizenship Law for Children Born in UAE

A child born in UAE does not automatically get UAE citizenship as the country follows jus sanguinis, or right of blood. Other factors such as parents’ nationality, marriage to a UAE national, and length of residence also come into play. While there may be criticism against such a system, it’s important to remember that each nation’s citizenship laws are born out of its specific context, historical and socio-political landscape. However, the UAE, like any nation, is also susceptible to changes and adaptations, keeping the citizenship dialogue ever-evolving.


1. Are all children born in UAE eligible for citizenship?

No, not all children born in UAE are eligible for citizenship. The key determinant is the nationality of the parents at the time of birth, particularly the father’s.

2. What are the conditions under which a foreign child born in UAE can apply for citizenship?

A foreign child born in UAE can apply for citizenship if their father is a UAE national. If the father is unknown or stateless, the mother must be a UAE national for the child to acquire citizenship.

3. Is there a possibility for the child to claim dual citizenship?

UAE law does not permit dual nationality, hence even if a child has right to another nationality due to their parents, they would have to renounce other nationalities to take UAE nationality.

4. What legal rights does a child born in UAE to foreign parents have?

A child born in UAE to foreign parents holds the citizenship of their parents. They have the rights accorded to them by that nationality but do not inherently possess the rights and benefits connected to UAE citizenship.

5. What changes can we look forward to regarding the citizenship laws in UAE?

While it’s difficult to predict with certainty, the UAE, like several nations, could adapt its laws in response to global trends. Changes, if any, would likely be deliberate and gradual.