The International Observatory on Statelessness

United Arab Emirates

In October of 2006, the UAE government made the historic move of deciding to naturalize 10,000 individuals within the country who had been stateless for over three decades. The people chosen to be naturalized were mainly from Zanzibar, with some of Iranian and Asian origin. In March 2008, the Minister of the Interior established a higher national committee to find a solution to the problem of persons without identification in the country. Starting on September 7, 2008, registration centers opened for a period of two months. Recent news reports indicate several thousand persons have filed applications for naturalization.

A child born to a citizen mother and non-citizen father is not considered an Emirati citizen. This stipulation also has implications for an Emirati woman divorcing a foreign husband. The woman would find it almost impossible to win custody of her children, but if the court does grant custody to the wife, her children could technically be stateless.