Why it pays to obtain dual citizenship

The country's favourable tax structures, banking centre status and ease of doing business make it an attractive destination for foreigners

14-March-2012, Al Shamkah, Abu Dhabi

Eman, Student in Zayed University

Eman is a student in Zayed University who has just received an Emirati passport. She was waiting for years to get it because her mother was Emirati but her father wasn't. Fatima Al Marzooqi/ The National
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In a globalised world, dual citizenship is no longer a rarity but a choice many people make to broaden their horizons.

Dual citizenship refers to a legal status where a person is simultaneously recognised as a citizen of two countries, which can be acquired by birth, descent, marriage, naturalisation or by investment, depending on the laws and regulations of the countries involved.

This status allows people to enjoy the rights and privileges afforded by each country, including the ability to live, work, study and gain access to social benefits in both nations.

Dual citizens or multi-locals are becoming more common thanks to an increasing interest in having dual and several citizenships, and greater tolerance by governments worldwide.

In 1960, just one third of countries allowed dual citizenship, compared with 75 per cent in 2019.

As awareness around global citizenship grows, so is the world’s acceptance and governments’ support by clear, legal pathways.

The UAE, a pioneering country in dual citizenship, stands out among Middle Eastern countries as an attractive destination for foreigners to live in.

While dual citizenship was previously banned, the UAE permitted this by amending the Nationality Law in 2021, allowing foreign investors, professionals, special talents and their families to obtain citizenship under certain conditions and only if they are nominated by the government or royal court officials.

It is also worth noting that Emiratis themselves are not permitted to hold dual citizenship.

The UAE government emphasised that this legislative adjustment aims to attract and retain people possessing specialised skills, including scientists, doctors, engineers and creative talents such as artists and authors, along with their families.

Tax transparency

High-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) prefer jurisdictions such as the UAE for compliance with international standards and favourable tax structures.

The UAE’s tax system stands out for its lack of income and inheritance taxes, a low corporate tax rate of 9 per cent, double tax treaties with 139 countries for tax relief and the ability for high-revenue corporations to offset foreign taxes against the UAE’s corporate tax, preventing double taxation.

Banking centre

With its exceptional infrastructure and an array of international banks offering business-friendly services, the UAE positions itself as a premier global financial centre for business ventures and diverse financial products.

Moreover, as a leader in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, the city has a well-regulated decentralised finance ecosystem, solidifying this reputation further.

Succession planning for HNWIs

Succession planning is crucial for HNWIs, yet a recent survey by Swiss lender Lombard Odier shows only 24 per cent of the Middle East’s ultra-wealthy have comprehensive estate plans for the next generation.

Succession planning in the UAE has significant advantages: The absence of inheritance tax mitigates tax burdens for heirs while financial free zones with robust legal systems ensure enhanced privacy and asset protection, advanced trust and foundation laws, and the option of registering wills in the Dubai International Finance Centre, enabling inclusion of global assets.

Social integration

Preserving one’s cultural identity while integrating into a new society is a universal challenge for dual citizens.

Cultural ties, national pride and personal connections to each nation can create a complex interplay.

The UAE’s diverse cultural mosaic offers an ease in striking the right balance to understand both nations’ cultural, historical and social nuances.

How to tackle legal issues

Legal complexities can be a concern for dual citizens, where laws of two nations collide.

Dual citizens must proactively engage with legal professionals well-versed in international law to navigate potential minefields and find resolutions that align with the laws of both countries.

This professor is one of the first non-Emiratis to receive UAE citizenship

This professor is one of the first non-Emiratis to receive UAE citizenship

As the UAE embraces dual citizenship, people who have embarked on this journey serve as beacons of insight.

Their experiences highlight the importance of actively managing loyalty, legal considerations, economic strategies and cultural connections.

As the nation evolves, the experiences of these dual citizens provide a road map for others to follow, demonstrating that it is possible to strike a harmonious balance between two countries.

Veronica Cotdemiey is chief executive of Citizenship Invest

Updated: March 06, 2024, 12:11 PM