His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, issued a directive last week widely regarded as a progressive step toward improving the rights of children born to Emirati mothers by foreign fathers, granting them the same benefits as other citizens in healthcare and education.
It is a welcome decision that rekindles the hope of affected families that they will be granted full citizenship; a right that many would argue is natural.
In the UAE, the child of an Emirati woman born to a non-Emirati man does not automatically qualify for citizenship and thus cannot enjoy full Emirati national rights. Even when citizenship is applied for under current rules, it is not guaranteed and can take years to obtain.
Children of Emirati mothers, on the other hand, have already had access to free healthcare and government schooling in the UAE. As of now, it is unclear how things will differ under the new resolution, but more information is expected to be released soon.
The announcement of the new legislation demonstrates that the issue is at the top of the new President’s priority list, as it is the first major announcement on internal affairs he has made since taking office.
Khaleej Times spoke with several mothers and children in this situation about their reactions to the new announcement and their future plans.