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Mon 20 Oct 2008 01:01 AM

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UAE creates 51 new citizens

Successful applicants vetted from among hundreds of stateless individuals who applied.

The UAE has granted citizenship to 51 stateless individuals, following a presidential decree, state news agency WAM reported on Sunday, quoting the Interior Ministry.

The Consultative Committee for Naturalisation, headed by Interior Minister Lt.General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has given approval to finalise all the administrative procedures, it added.

The Director-in-Charge of the UAE Naturalisation and Residency Department, Brigadier Nasser Al-Awadhi, said that the prospective citizens had passed all the necessary security vetting procedures.

Their papers had been scrutinised and verified before being handed over to the committee for final approval, he added.

Al-Awadhi called on the new citizens to uphold the national principles and reflect a civilized image of their homeland, which guarantees a dignified life for its citizens, residents and visitors, WAM reported.

An interior ministry official told UAE daily Gulf News that "the aim of the government and of the ministry is to solve the problem of stateless people in an efficient and humane manner by guaranteeing civility and rights."

Hundreds of families had applied for citizenship, the official told the paper, without giving an exact number.

Unofficial estimates of put the number of stateless individuals in the UAE - known in Arabic as 'Bidoon' from the word meaning 'without' - at around 100,000. Other Gulf countries also face a 'Bidoon' issue.

The UAE government last month set a two-month deadline for stateless individuals to apply for citizenship.

Eligibility is limited to those were resident in the country before the creation of the federation in 1971.

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