Emirates Leaks

UAE’s Bidoon, Systematic discrimination and constant suffering


The Emirates Center for Human Rights highlighted the reality of the systematic discrimination and constant suffering of stateless Bidoons in the Emirates behind an uncertain future.

The Center said in a newly published report that the Bidoons, who have no identity cards or passports, are stripped of all their internationally guaranteed rights. They are officially nonexistent, and worse, they live in a society that denies their existence and right to have equal rights.

The Bidoon is the term used in the UAE and the Gulf for stateless. Families that live in the area but are never included in the housing statistics for several reasons, including their tribal affiliation, literacy level, ethnic origins, or relations with state officials.

The Bidoon are distributed in most of the country’s emirates, with a relatively greater concentration in the northern emirates, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm al-Quwain, which are relatively poor compared to those of others to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Their origins are either due to the Bedouin tribes moving freely in the Gulf region or immigrants who entered the country for decades for work and earning a living and did not apply for citizenship. Although the UAE government did not issue data showing the Bidoon population’s numbers, unofficial estimates put their number at more than 100,000.

When the union of the seven emirates, The Nationality Law was issued in the Emirates, and their case emerged clearly on the surface. The law did not address the conditions of those who demanded citizenship after the date of the law’s issuance in 1972, which led to the aggravation of their problem in the following years.

At the beginning of the first three decades, the Emirati authorities dealt with this category as citizens because they needed their efforts to serve the country. They were allowed to employ them in various ministries, especially the Ministries of Defense and Interior. They constituted a good proportion of them.

But over time, the authorities denied their rights gradually. Today, the group became deprived of the most necessities of a decent life, without an identity proving their existence, and no right to education, treatment, property, or marriage other rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

All livelihoods are forbidden

The Bidoon category in the UAE is prohibited from registering real estate or cars, although this is allowed for foreigners without restrictions. The authorities also refuse to employ them or allow them to work in the government sector, and the Ministry of Health imposes on their payments for treatment.

The Bidoon children are not entitled to receive education in public schools, which prompted them to enrol their children in expensive private schools, which increased their suffering.

The Bidoon category also lives with another concern in documenting marriage and divorce contracts, and in death and birth certificates, due to the Ministry of Health’s refusal to include them in its statements, only to find themselves under a thorny issue whose chapters they live every day of deprivation, neglect and marginalization.

Endless suffering in all areas of life, amid neglect and neglect by the authorities of this category, which pay the price of this neglect unfairly and unjustly for more than four generations, in a country that boasts of openness and the reception of more than 200 nationalities on its land.

This is in clear violation of international conventions that guarantee the right to citizenship and nationality for every human being, including Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or the right to change his nationality.”