Expats in the UAE can never become citizens of this country, no matter how long they stay. They will never be domiciled or get an Emirati passport. That privilege is reserved for those people born to parents who are both full-blooded Emiratis.
Information is scant and unclear but it seems that as recently as last year, 2014, even children born to Emirati mothers and foreign fathers were not eligible to claim the navy-blue passport, the one with the golden falcon in its coat of arms proudly displayed on the front cover, as their own. Although children born to Emirati fathers and foreign mothers could do so. That may have changed now and it seems names of half-Emirati offspring can be submitted to the Ministry of Interior for approval by a committee. Once passed, those named are granted citizenship but only after their 18th birthdays. This gives them full rights inclusive of free education, health benefits and guaranteed employment.
Which is great for them as citizenship comes with many rights and privileges – but not going to happen to foreigners.
Which means that if expats come then they have to go.
Which makes this a very transient society.
Which makes goodbyes and farewells an all too common occurrence in the community and the following quote much too close to home for me:
“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.” Author unknown.
This very morning I bid a fond farewell, alongside many others, to a wonderful family of five who are trans-locating to Australia. They arrived in Dubai a little time after us and have contributed in every way to the community. They leave their mark on many of our lives and I know they will do the same down under. It’s highly likely that they’ll get Australian citizenship after four years and who knows if we’ll ever see each other face to face again.
I hope so…but only time will tell.
Until then, they move from my faith community to my Facebook community.
You know…that mighty fine, fabulously friendly and forever community.
The one I wrote about here.