Denial of citizenship to the expatriates: UAE’s Double Standard of Modernity and Free World

Muslim-young-woman-praying-in-masjidThere are many false facades the UAE is known to present to the outside world and one of them is to pretend like a torchbearer of the modern world free world. They want to position themselves as part of the western world, but indulge in age-old practices that goes back thousands of years. Starting with a medieval governing system that perpetuates religious and racial bigotry, there are policies that have some nearly impossible terms and conditions to grant citizenship to the foreigners that come to this country.   

UAE-born expats will remain expats

Even children of the expats born and raised in the UAE don’t get citizenship. People who don’t know any country other than UAE can’t become a citizen of the country of their birth and as such, they remain nationless.

The best deal: A long work and residence permit

The best you can get is the work and residence permit for indefinite duration. Even this depends on the employer, if he is generous enough and satisfied with the services of the employee. We know that it is a subjective measure and can’t be considered as a standard or regular way of getting the permit for a long time.  

However,  there are few rare cases where there is a slight chance to get the UAE’s citizenship:

  • One way to get the UAE’s citizenship is to marry a UAE national; however, there is no guarantee involved that you will be granted the citizenship. Especially for non-Muslims, where it is nearly impossible to have citizenship even after marrying a UAE national.

  • The ruler of UAE might grant citizenship to those expatriates who have provided outstanding services for the country. For this, serving the country for at least three to four decades is a prerequisite.

In the following section we will discuss the underlying reasons why getting a UAE citizenship is an seemingly an unattainable task.

#1 Fear of Losing Religious Stronghold

Of the total population of the UAE, nearly 85% are expatriates of different religions and sects. The native Emiratis feel threatened of this majority and therefore avoid granting them citizenship because proliferation of more people of a different set of religious beliefs can affect the existing religious makeup of the country. Virtually all of the local Emirati population is Muslim and they belong to the orthodox school of thought. To maintain the domination of their religious views, they are not willing to give citizenship to the people of other religions and sects.

#2 Consider Themselves Ethnically Superior

The citizens of the UAE have an ingrained sense of being racially and hereditarily superior than other races and ethnicities. This bias is so deep-rooted that they think very low even of non-Arab Muslims. There is a significant size of expat population who share their religious views, but since they racially belong to non-Arab genetic pool, it is very unlikely that they will ever get the citizenship.

Monarchical System Feels Threatened by the Expats of the Modern World

The UAE is one of those few countries where a monarchy still exists.  The seven states or the Emirates are governed by their respective monarchs. Even though they have set up a sham government structure which is supposed to mimic modern democracy with a president, prime minister and ministers, they are part of (or should we say 'are pupets of') the real powers that be, which are the royal Emirati families.

This fragile setup of administration and government who have always been in a few hands don’t feel comfortable to accommodate people from the modern world, more specifically, democracies. Since they feel these citizens can eventually become a threat to the monarchy by collectively challenging their medieval way of life.

To maintain the status quo

The UAE government is very keen and diligent in maintaining and protecting the status quo. They don’t want to compromise on their standard of living. They don’t want any other culture to get propagated in the country. Lastly, they don’t want to make it difficult for themselves to fulfill all the obligations of welfare and convenience for the local denizen. In order to protect this status quo, they don’t grant citizenship to the outside world.

You can see the hypocrisy of this ostensibly modernized country where you can become a tourist, employee or business to benefit the economy of their country; however, even after years of services, you will be denied the right to become a citizen. The above reasons undoubtedly indicate that this custom of denying citizenship to the expatriates will continue way in the future amidst consierable world criticism.