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Mon 17 Dec 2007 11:07 AM

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GCC residents demand Gulf states grant citizenship

Over 70% believe expatriates should be eligible for citizenship, survey shows.

Over 70% of GCC residents are calling on Gulf Arab states to grant citizenship to long-term expatriates, an ArabianBusiness.com survey has revealed.

The latest poll shows 43.8% of respondents think foreign workers who have lived in a Gulf state for more than 20 years should be eligible to applying for citizenship.

While almost 30% of respondents think those who have lived here for between five and 10 years should be offered citizenship, as is common in many other countries.

Nearly 20% said citizenships should only be handed out to foreign workers who deserve it, while just under 10% said expatriates should never be offered citizenship.

Currently only Saudi Arabia and Qatar have an official policy of granting citizenship to expatriates.

In Saudi Arabia foreign workers must have lived in the country for at least 10 years before they can apply for citizenship, with preference given to those holding doctorates in medicine, engineering and other sciences and those Saudi family relations.

In Qatar expatriates must have lived in the country for more than 25 years and have a sufficient level of proficiency in Arabic, have a reasonably good standard of living and have not been convicted of any criminal offence. Priority is given to those whose mothers are Qatari nationals.

The UAE, Bahrain and Oman have do not allow expatriates to become citizens except in exceptional circumstances when an individual has provided outstanding service to the country.

The UAE last week ruled out any chance of expatriates being awarded citizenship - no matter how long they work in the Emirates.

Labour minister Ali Abdulla Al Kaabi on Wednesday flatly rejected calls to give foreign workers who have lived in the UAE for at least five years the option of applying for citizenship.

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