DUBAI - The president of the United Arab Emirates has issued a decree granting citizenship to more than 1,000 children of Emirati women married to foreigners, the official WAM news agency reported on Sunday.
"President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan has issued decrees granting citizenship to 1,117 children of UAE women married to foreigners who satisfied requirements for citizenship," WAM reported.
The committee tasked with implementing the directives of the president on children of UAE women married to foreigners has raised to Sheikh Khalifa lists of names submitted by the Ministry of Interior and approved by the Committee at its last meeting held on 31st January under the chairmanship of Ahmed Juma Al Za'abi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs Chairman of the Committee, in the context of completion of the legal procedures and stages on granting citizenship.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the Higher National Security, State Security Authority and the Ministry of the Interior.
The children will receive full citizenship when they reach the age of 18, the agency said.
While the number of children who will benefit from the UAE’s change remains to be seen, Sheikh Khalifa’s move was a step in the right direction, and he has painted an optimistic picture for Emirati women married to foreign husbands and their children. The hope now is that other Arab countries that discriminate against women and their children this way will follow his lead.
Most Arab countries link nationality to blood relation from the father's side, disenfranchising women who face various forms of gender discrimination across the region.
Tunisia had for a long time been the only country that gave men and women equal nationality rights with few other countries responding to continued campaigns for the regulation to be changed.
But in 2005, Algeria amended its nationality law, giving women the right to pass citizenship to their foreign husbands and children.
In 2007, Morocco said the children of Moroccan women will automatically get the nationality, while foreign husbands can demand the citizenship after five years of marriage and residency in the country.
Egypt followed suit giving women the right to pass their citizenship to their children.
The campaign continues in many other Arab countries.
Home to a huge expatriate community, the oil-rich UAE has an overall population of 8.26 million, with UAE citizens representing around 11.47 percent, according to official figures released last April.