View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Could You Pass the New Culture Test for UAE Residency Visa?

Residency Test for the Emirates
The Emirates News Agency WAM recently informed readers that “Expatriates applying for residency visa in future will be tested in their knowledge of local culture.”

The new test is motivated by the desire of the Federal National Council that immigrants might have a better understanding of UAE values, traditions and identity.

Test Before Residency
This is an interesting new step that makes one wonder which other countries adopt this same approach.

Does your country have a similar test for people applying for residence?

Citizenship Test
Many countries like Australia administer a test to applicants for citizenship but the application can only be made if people have been permanent residents in Oz for longer than five years. This gives them time to learn the culture (which reminds me of the saying that the difference between Australia and yoghurt is that yoghurt has some culture).

Easy Questions
Ahmed Shabeeb Al Dhahiri, First Deputy Speaker of the Federal National Council, said a committee will draw up a series of easy questions that will comprise a test that expatriates must pass in order to get their residency visa.

He said questions could include the following: ‘What is the country's official religion?’ and ‘What is the country's flag?’

Why should these questions be easy if the test is intended to achieve its stated point?

Questions in Oz
The test in Australia takes up to 45 minutes and is a closed book exam. Questions are slanted towards citizenship (not just residency) and they cover these areas: Responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship, Australian values, Australian history, Australian society and Governing Australia.

A book has been prepared for prospective Aussie citizens to study entitled Becoming an Australian Citizen (look at it in Arabic, English and some other languages).

Test Yourself
Perhaps the best book to read if you are applying to reside in the UAE and the Gulf is Jeremy Williams’ Don’t They Know It’s Friday?

Williams runs seminars for business people visiting the Gulf Countries called Handshaikh. As part of these learning experiences Williams offers the following test.

Test yourself to see if you are ready to visit the UAE (it is designed more broadly for the Gulf).

1. When is Ramadan this year?
2. Doesn't Ramadan mean 'fasting' in Arabic?
3. What does 1427AH mean?
4. Arabs are all the same, aren't they?
5. All Arabs are Muslims, surely?
6. We need to book an appointment in three days' time, don't we?
7. What is an Eid?
8. What should I wear?
9. They all speak such good English the proposal can be in English, can't it?
10. Excuse me Mr Abdullah, but what is your Christian name?
11. Iranians are Arabs, aren't they?
12. He seems to be very nice so shall we have him as our Agent/Sponsor?

Williams says if you ask these or similar questions, don’t go to the Gulf yet (especially the last three!).

Passing the Test
How did you go with these questions?

What questions do you think should be part of the new UAE residency test?

UAE Visa Seekers Will Have to Pass Cultural Test, Report, WAM, 7 July 2009.
Lesson #2 for UAE’s Culture Test Towards Residency Visa, ETE, 22 July 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

This article and its author have no relationship to the authorities who grant residency visas for the UAE.

The information and questions are not official and cannot be relied upon for residency application.