Children of Emirati mothers allowed to compete in official UAE sports competitions for the first time

Sheikh Khalifa directive means those born to foreign fathers will have no barrier to sport

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The children of Emirati women born to foreign fathers will be able to compete in official UAE competitions for the first time under a new directive issued on Wednesday.

President, Sheikh Khalifa, said a competitor would no longer need to be an Emirati national to participate, but would must have an Emirati mother. This applies to the holders of passports that are under the application process as well as those born in the UAE .

The state news agency Wam reported that Sheikh Khalifa directed the Cabinet to put in place the necessary regulations and conditions for the implementation of the directive.

The new directive comes in light of the government's move to activate, promote and support various sports activities, to benefit from the talents of athletes, and to enhance their participation in various sporting activities and official events, reported Wam.

It also plays a role in 'reaffirming that sport is an integral part of nations' civilisation and progress'.

Reem Al Falasi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood said: "We look forward to the implementation of His Highness's directives and seeing the children of Emirati mother's participating and competing in national competitions. We consider them to be Emirati and we do not discriminate or differentiate between them and children whose both parents are Emirati. We also want to encourage children of all nationalities to participate in sport activities,"

FNC member Salem Al Shehi said the initiative would only benefit the country.

"The UAE has always welcomed people of all nationalities. Children of Emirati mothers are Emirati and an important part of the country and the President's directives has affirmed that. Allowing them to take part in our national competitions will only bring added benefit to the country," he said.

The directive did not state or clarify whether the change will mean the same individuals would be able to compete in the UAE's national teams abroad.