A child in limbo

My old employer The National reports that Leen Omar, three, is stuck in the United Arab Emirates following her parents’ divorce because she has no legal standing, despite having been born there. Her father insists that only Jordanian law applies.

Leen was born in Abu Dhabi in February 2007 but cannot travel outside the country, receive state services or even be registered for nursery school because her father’s presence is required for her to obtain a passport. OM [her father], a Jordanian-Palestinian, left the country after divorcing the child’s mother, a Syrian-Palestinian, in August 2006.

The mother cannot apply for a passport for her child because she does not have a Syrian passport, only immigration documents for Palestinian refugees issued by the Syrian government.

Citizenship is tightly regulated in the UAE. While the government can bestow it upon individuals for a variety of reasons, usually public service or contribution, birth entitles one to basically nothing. If I recall correctly, children can live in the country on the strength of their father’s visa, but require one of their own once they reach adulthood. If anybody knows any better, do let me know.

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