x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Screening to review UAE citizenship cases

A rigorous screening process will require appropriate documentation and evidence as a committee charged with studying the cases of stateless families gets under way.

ABU DHABI // A rigorous screening process will require appropriate documentation and evidence as a committee charged with studying the cases of stateless families gets under way.

Last week, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced that the Mothers of Emiratis Committee would review the cases of those without citizenship documents who apply for UAE citizenship.

The committee, headed by Ahmed Jomaa Al Zaabi, the Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs, will first confirm that applicants have legal status and proof of their origin.

Ali Jassem, a long-standing member of the Federal National Council (FNC), said the screening process would be rigorous to ensure that only people who deserve citizenship are granted it.

"There is no such thing as stateless people," he said. "Even before the police existed, people coming in would call leaders and there was a file for them. So we need to make sure before doing anything."

Officials estimate there are up to 10,000 stateless in the country, but some believe their numbers to be significantly higher.

Musabah Al Kitbi, an FNC member from Sharjah, said the move was the culmination of years of work.

"We are not waiting for human rights, or other pressure," he said. "The country has been working on population structure for years. I believe, if you were born here, then you must be loyal to this land - this is known. But of course there have to be conditions, the Ministry of Interior know best."

In just a few months, the committee has granted citizenship to 1,117 children of Emirati mothers.

osalem@thenational.ae