Airline bosses, tech entrepreneurs and a former Real Madrid footballer are among those to be issued UAE passports as part of the Gulf state's government new drive to attract and keep ultra-high net worth expats, according to the FT in a report on 5 May.

The first salvo to be awarded citizen passports included Tim Clark, the veteran president of Dubai's Emirates airline, and Tony Douglas, chief executive of Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, according to people briefed on the decision, the FT said.

Michel Salgado, the Spanish footballer who spent a decade at Real Madrid and currently runs a soccer club in Dubai, has also received a passport.

Others include the founders of two successful UAE start-ups: Careem, a ride-hailing app bought by Uber, and, an ecommerce group acquired by Amazon.

All declined to comment, the FT said. 

Mohammed Al Shorafa Al Hammadi, chair of the UAE capital's department of economic development was quoted by the FT as saying "We want people to call Abu Dhabi home," adding "The right perception is that you're not here for the short-term, you're here to grow and live . . . through retirement."